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Old 09-19-2006, 06:32 PM   #1
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Cooling Foods to Refrigerate

With all the recent discussion of food poisoning and leaving foods out all night by mistake, I would like to see some discussion of how you deal with this problem.

I cook to generate leftovers. I like to serve food hot. Like tonight, I made Kadesma's tomato and cheese casserole. When dinner was over, the casserole dish was still quite warm. While I tidy up the kitchen after dinner, I will draw a few inches of cold water in the sink and set the casserole dish in it. After a few minutes, I will check the temperature of the water. If the water is warm to the touch, I will drain the water and draw fresh cold water for the casserole to set in. If the water is still cool, I do not bother to change the water. Once I leave the kitchen after supper, I generally do not return to the kitchen until the next morning, so it is imperative that I leave no tasks to complete in the kitchen, such as dealing with a cooling casserole dish, which can be forgotten . I make sure all leftovers are in the frig before I leave the kitchen every evening. Setting the casserole dish in cold water really cools the dish down enough that by the time I put the leftovers in the frig, the food is much cooler. Some casseroles lend themselves to stirring, some don't. If I am cooling down a soup, I will stir the soup to distribute/even out the temperature.

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Old 09-19-2006, 07:45 PM   #2
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I just cover the item and put it in the refrigerator while it's still pretty warm. If it's really hot, I allow it to cool somewhat first. My refrigerator is able to handle it and I've never had a problem with the heat affecting other foods, not even those in the freezer (which stays at or very close to zero).

Better safe than sorry.
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Old 09-19-2006, 07:45 PM   #3
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If I leave any food out overnight by accident, I throw it out (things that should be refrigerated I mean). As for leftovers, I usually let them cool down a bit and then store them in tupperware and then refrigerate or freeze.
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Old 09-19-2006, 08:15 PM   #4
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I let my foods cool down (I'm sure your cold water bath method is fine but don't know for sure). They still might be warm when I put them in the refrigerator so I cover with plastic wrap or aluminum foil and poke about 5 or so holes depending on how large a surface area there is. This allows the heat to escape and not stay trapped and cool too slowly (which is where nasty stuff grows). That's the way I've always done mine ever since my restaurant days.

If I put things in containers with lids I just set the lids on them slightly askew to let the heat escape then cover in the morning.
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Old 09-19-2006, 08:44 PM   #5
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I do the same as Kitchenelf does. If it is quite a lot to cool down like soups or other large quantities, I break whatever up into smaller batches and cool in ice water in the sink before putting into the fridge or freezer.
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Old 09-19-2006, 09:09 PM   #6
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Ideally for food safety, and what pros do is an ice water bath around smaller containers before refridgeration. I have done that for certain foods at home and it works very well. Assuming you have an icemaker, it is a simple operation.
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Old 09-19-2006, 09:12 PM   #7
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I think a good thing to remember is 2 hours from cooker to chiller. Once your food is cooked, and you have eaten what you want of it, cool leftovers quickly and refrigerate. Two hours is the maximum also, that food should be keep in a reheating situation such as bain maries, at the correct temperature.

If you have large pots of soup/casseroles try transferring to large ( and long) shallow dishs and trays. Stir often to dissipate the heat.
Stirring a pan of food over iced water is another good idea, but it doesn't mean leaving it there all night.

In my kitchen we have two large walkin chillers, so having food still slightly warm go in there is not going to drop the temp at all. The temperature in the chillers is always at 2 degrees, and it is wise to keep the household one at between 2 and 4 degrees.
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Old 09-19-2006, 09:39 PM   #8
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There are various methods of quick chilling. Whichever you choose, you still have only 2 hours to get the food at or below 40 degrees. Don't cover anything tightly as that only traps heat. You have to vent an edge or leave it uncovered. Poking holes is inadequate unless you poke lots of holes. Condensation will eventually close up the holes.

An instant read thermometer doesn't cost more than 10 or 12 dollars and is the wisest, safest investment, right up there with a home fire extinguisher.

Professionally, if something cannot be stirred with an ice paddle or set into an ice bath, we break it down to smaller containers or pans.
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Old 09-19-2006, 09:47 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FryBoy
I just cover the item and put it in the refrigerator while it's still pretty warm. If it's really hot, I allow it to cool somewhat first. My refrigerator is able to handle it and I've never had a problem with the heat affecting other foods, not even those in the freezer (which stays at or very close to zero).

Better safe than sorry.
You're better off putting it directly into the fridge...it's cooler in there than it is on the counter; and you are wasting precious time leaving something on the counter.
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Old 09-19-2006, 10:10 PM   #10
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I disagree, at least in some situations. I would not move a pot of hot soup or stew directly from boiling on the stove or in the oven to the refrigerator.
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