Find your diamond
Find your jewelry
shape
carat
color
clarity

Can hot food be stored in fridge?

Peepa

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Feb 21, 2007
Messages
352
I hear people say to wait till the food has "cooled" down to put in fridge.
But why?
Anyone know of a great, reputable cooking site that has information on food storage, handling, etc?
 

movie zombie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 20, 2005
Messages
11,879
putting hot food into a refrigerator lowers the temperature within the refrigerator and increases the risk of other food not being as cold as necessary for its preservation. probably also increases your cooling costs as your refrigerator tries to get back down to the proper temperature setting. is there a reason you want to put hot food into the refrigerator? warm is one thing, hot is another.
 

TristanC

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 6, 2011
Messages
995
Movie zombie covered it pretty well. I assume you are wanting to put hot foods immediately into the fridge to prevent staling or bacterial growth?

If you want you can transfer your hot foods directly into a airtight container and leave it on the counter to cool to room temperature before you place it into the fridge. The airtight seal will prevent contamination while cooling the food will prevent all the things movie talked about. And it isn't recommended to place hot foods into the fridge at all.
 

Aoife

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
1,779
TristanC|1311091609|2972271 said:
Movie zombie covered it pretty well. I assume you are wanting to put hot foods immediately into the fridge to prevent staling or bacterial growth?

If you want you can transfer your hot foods directly into a airtight container and leave it on the counter to cool to room temperature before you place it into the fridge. The airtight seal will prevent contamination while cooling the food will prevent all the things movie talked about. And it isn't recommended to place hot foods into the fridge at all.
Well, yes and no.

A large amount of dense hot food--say a pot of stew, or a large casserole--can take a very long time to come to room temperature, much longer than is safe, because the outside of the container cools faster than the food in the interior. The warmer food in the middle is a breeding ground for bacteria. The trick is to transfer whatever you want to store into smaller containers, cool them quickly to room temperature , and then transfer them to the coldest part of the refrigerator. Before you use that food again, reheat it thoroughly. My husband brought home stories from his microbiology classes in graduate school that have made me hyper-conscious of food safety. There is such a thing as too much information, believe me.
 

Miss Sparkly

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jan 2, 2010
Messages
1,664
Aoife|1311098026|2972352 said:
TristanC|1311091609|2972271 said:
Movie zombie covered it pretty well. I assume you are wanting to put hot foods immediately into the fridge to prevent staling or bacterial growth?

If you want you can transfer your hot foods directly into a airtight container and leave it on the counter to cool to room temperature before you place it into the fridge. The airtight seal will prevent contamination while cooling the food will prevent all the things movie talked about. And it isn't recommended to place hot foods into the fridge at all.
Well, yes and no.

A large amount of dense hot food--say a pot of stew, or a large casserole--can take a very long time to come to room temperature, much longer than is safe, because the outside of the container cools faster than the food in the interior. The warmer food in the middle is a breeding ground for bacteria. The trick is to transfer whatever you want to store into smaller containers, cool them quickly to room temperature , and then transfer them to the coldest part of the refrigerator. Before you use that food again, reheat it thoroughly. My husband brought home stories from his microbiology classes in graduate school that have made me hyper-conscious of food safety. There is such a thing as too much information, believe me.
Exactly. It has everything to do with bacteria growth.
 

kenny

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Apr 30, 2005
Messages
28,963
One other consideration is cracking the glass shelves if you were to put an extremely hot pot on the glass.

I'm not positive that tempered glass can quickly go from 40 degrees to 200 degrees safely.
 

TristanC

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 6, 2011
Messages
995
Aoife|1311098026|2972352 said:
TristanC|1311091609|2972271 said:
Movie zombie covered it pretty well. I assume you are wanting to put hot foods immediately into the fridge to prevent staling or bacterial growth?

If you want you can transfer your hot foods directly into a airtight container and leave it on the counter to cool to room temperature before you place it into the fridge. The airtight seal will prevent contamination while cooling the food will prevent all the things movie talked about. And it isn't recommended to place hot foods into the fridge at all.
Well, yes and no.

A large amount of dense hot food--say a pot of stew, or a large casserole--can take a very long time to come to room temperature, much longer than is safe, because the outside of the container cools faster than the food in the interior. The warmer food in the middle is a breeding ground for bacteria. The trick is to transfer whatever you want to store into smaller containers, cool them quickly to room temperature , and then transfer them to the coldest part of the refrigerator. Before you use that food again, reheat it thoroughly. My husband brought home stories from his microbiology classes in graduate school that have made me hyper-conscious of food safety. There is such a thing as too much information, believe me.
This is correct from a theoretical point of view, but in practice so long as the food that you handled and cooked has been brought past the temperature point required to rid it of the most dangerous pathogens, subsequent cooling in the open should result in zero issues.

Assuming your house isn't a breeding ground for bacteria of course (a clean kitchen should be fine). Post storage, anything with a large liquid volume like a stew or soup, which is what I believe you are referring to will need to be brought up to the right temperature again.

If any food poisoning occurs, it would be overwhelmingly likely to be due to poor handling/preparation and cleaning of the food items prior to cooking, or not cooking an item thoroughly enough (low heat foods or no cook foods like sashimi or seared foods - you need to source your ingredients correctly to begin with) rather than having it occur due to time spent cooling if it was problem free when you started the countertop cooling process. Yes, badly handled food which is at risk will become more risky if given a prolonged resting period.
 

Aoife

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
1,779
TristanC|1311128868|2972666 said:
This is correct from a theoretical point of view, but in practice so long as the food that you handled and cooked has been brought past the temperature point required to rid it of the most dangerous pathogens, subsequent cooling in the open should result in zero issues.

Assuming your house isn't a breeding ground for bacteria of course (a clean kitchen should be fine). Post storage, anything with a large liquid volume like a stew or soup, which is what I believe you are referring to will need to be brought up to the right temperature again.

If any food poisoning occurs, it would be overwhelmingly likely to be due to poor handling/preparation and cleaning of the food items prior to cooking, or not cooking an item thoroughly enough (low heat foods or no cook foods like sashimi or seared foods - you need to source your ingredients correctly to begin with) rather than having it occur due to time spent cooling if it was problem free when you started the countertop cooling process. Yes, badly handled food which is at risk will become more risky if given a prolonged resting period.
Unfortunately, this is just not true. While cross contamination from prep areas, sneezing, pet hair, etc., can certainly occur, you are just incorrect in saying that cooling a large volume of food at room temperature and then heating it up later will take care of any potential problems. Quick cooling and then refrigeration is key to preventing later food-bourne illness, and reheating will not kill off toxins that some bacteria produce. You're giving potentially dangerous advice, TristanC.

ETA:
Here's a link with good basic food safety information:
http://www.foodsafety.gov
 

monarch64

Super_Ideal_Rock
Premium
Joined
Aug 12, 2005
Messages
17,916
We're vegetarians, so let's say I make a ratatouille (eggplant, zucchini, peppers)--I don't worry about sticking it in the fridge shortly after serving. A veggie lasagna with ricotta cheese and mozzarella--yup, goes in the fridge, sealed, right after cooling and serving. It depends on what the heck you're heating and cooling, really. Now, my mother never left an egg out that she wasn't using immediately. She said that's why none of us ever got sick. She also never let us lick the spoon from cake or brownie batter. She also is a bleach whore...you could eat off any surface in her kitchen and not get sick! (Well, unless you licked the countertops right after she bleached them.) :bigsmile: I am a bit more laid back than my mom, since I don't cook with eggs or meat very often. But I still follow the refrigeration rules and I clean as I cook, period. It's just sanitary, to me.
 

centralsquare

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 18, 2009
Messages
2,201
I never really gave this topic much thought before, but all the back and forth (and food safety website) is surely eye opening!
 

TristanC

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 6, 2011
Messages
995
Aoife|1311132087|2972694 said:
Unfortunately, this is just not true. While cross contamination from prep areas, sneezing, pet hair, etc., can certainly occur, you are just incorrect in saying that cooling a large volume of food at room temperature and then heating it up later will take care of any potential problems. Quick cooling and then refrigeration is key to preventing later food-bourne illness, and reheating will not kill off toxins that some bacteria produce. You're giving potentially dangerous advice, TristanC.

ETA:
Here's a link with good basic food safety information:
http://www.foodsafety.gov
Alrightly straight to the point then.

You are saying that if I take cooked food that is not tainted when it is done cooking. Which I am eating and is fine. That leaving that same food on the counter in a closed container to cool for (insert random length of time - say 2-3 hours) will cause bacterial contamination and render the food unsafe for future consumption? I mean the fridge part happens after this.

Especially if the future food is reheated properly prior to serving? I say not.

Not because of the time it spent outdoors. Unless we are talking about very very sensitive foods, some of which i mentioned earlier. Especially foods that are raw or not cooked through.
 

movie zombie

Super_Ideal_Rock
Joined
Jan 20, 2005
Messages
11,879
re eggs: when i was in trindad some years ago....which is a hot humid place....i had the best egg nog in the world made with....gasp....eggs that not only were left on the counter for hours but also already out of the shell. i experienced no problems drinking this beverage made many hours later. however, i will also say this: they were fresh eggs. they were not eggs from an industrial ag system that had already been warehoused for a month before being sold.

many cooks and recipes insist on eggs being at room temperature prior to cooking.

eggs are natures best packaged retail product as was explained to me by several different small run egg producing ranchers.

and i've known people to keep them unrefrigerated for weeks while traveling through states during hot weather and having no problems.

however, i acknowledge that it only takes one time..........

additionally, people lived and cooked for centuries w/o refrigeration. i personally believe we've become too hung up on all this. my theory is that unless we challenge the gut periodically and it does what its suppossed to do, it will lose its ability to do so when there really is something to worry about.

read everything you can. make your own decisions. i never put hot food in the refrigerator. its usually cooled down to anywhere to barely warm to room temperature. and i always take my eggs out to come to room temperature before using them although i don't crack them until i'm ready to do so. yes, there are nasty things that can happen to food but basic cleanliness and some common sense go a long ways. also, buying very fresh and local produced meat, veggies, eggs, etc. really makes a difference.
 

VapidLapid

Ideal_Rock
Joined
Feb 18, 2010
Messages
4,267
use a cold water or ice bath to lower the temperature quickly. The hot/cold exchange will go faster in a metal container, so if you cooked in a metal pot you should cool by putting the metal pot into a larger vessel or container (or even just the sink) surrounded by cold water and/or ice. Then transfer to your plastic storage container. Why would you want to put all that heat in the refrigerator with your other foods?
 

Peepa

Shiny_Rock
Joined
Feb 21, 2007
Messages
352
Hmm, so I didn't mean piping hot, but warm. The subject line should have been "can warm food be stored in fridge?"
So can I or no?
Will this harm the food itself or anything else near it?

Since my baby was born, I've become a thousand times more conscious about food safety.
Maybe we should have an all things food safety and handling thread?

So this is a bit off topic, but bananas, how the heck do I stop them from becoming brown in the 20 minutes I've chopped them up, placed in container and drove to daycare?
 

Aoife

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
1,779
TristanC|1311172493|2972928 said:
Aoife|1311132087|2972694 said:
Unfortunately, this is just not true. While cross contamination from prep areas, sneezing, pet hair, etc., can certainly occur, you are just incorrect in saying that cooling a large volume of food at room temperature and then heating it up later will take care of any potential problems. Quick cooling and then refrigeration is key to preventing later food-bourne illness, and reheating will not kill off toxins that some bacteria produce. You're giving potentially dangerous advice, TristanC.

ETA:
Here's a link with good basic food safety information:
http://www.foodsafety.gov
Alrightly straight to the point then.

You are saying that if I take cooked food that is not tainted when it is done cooking. Which I am eating and is fine. That leaving that same food on the counter in a closed container to cool for (insert random length of time - say 2-3 hours) will cause bacterial contamination and render the food unsafe for future consumption? I mean the fridge part happens after this.

Especially if the future food is reheated properly prior to serving? I say not.

Not because of the time it spent outdoors. Unless we are talking about very very sensitive foods, some of which i mentioned earlier. Especially foods that are raw or not cooked through.
I will be equally direct:

There are a lot of things on Pricescope that are matters of opinion: the quality of a colored gemstone, the beauty of a setting, the value of precision over native cut. Food safety is not a matter of opinion. The recommendations I and some others on this thread have made are backed by years of research and common scientific knowledge about how bacteria, viruses and other microbes actually behave. Any kitchen, whether commercial or consumer, that does not follow those handling procedures runs a risk for food bourne illness. That's a fact.

To use your example, the fact is that bacteria exist in the air and on all surfaces. You cannot eradicate them, and there is absolutely no need to do so. The "clean" container you put on your kitchen counter to hold the food was contaminated the minute you unloaded it from the dishwasher, when your hand came in contact with it. It's further contaminated by you standing over it as you transfer the food from the pot to the container, by you breathing on it. If you practice safe food handling procedures, this isn't a problem. But putting hot food in that container, and leaving it out on the counter for 2-3 hours so far exceeds any documented and mandated safe handling practice that if you routinely do this, it is only a matter of time before somebody is going to get sick. That is also a fact.

On a public forum like this, I personally feel that opinions are all fine and well. I've got a lot of them myself. But making a recommendation and vigorously defending it when it could negatively impact someone's health and well-being strikes me as irresponsible. Just to make clear where I am coming from, my husband has a PhD in Food Science. He has worked for 35 years in the areas of food science, health and nutrition, and disease prevention.
 

Aoife

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 23, 2010
Messages
1,779
Peepa|1311176875|2973010 said:
Hmm, so I didn't mean piping hot, but warm. The subject line should have been "can warm food be stored in fridge?"
So can I or no?
Will this harm the food itself or anything else near it?

Since my baby was born, I've become a thousand times more conscious about food safety.
Maybe we should have an all things food safety and handling thread?

So this is a bit off topic, but bananas, how the heck do I stop them from becoming brown in the 20 minutes I've chopped them up, placed in container and drove to daycare?
Peepa, this depends on how warm "warm" is. ;-) If you're in doubt, the quick cool method VL suggested is a really good one.
 

TristanC

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 6, 2011
Messages
995
Don't put warm food in the fridge if you can help it. Room temp, or body temp is fine. Harms things near it yes, because the temp of the food changes in response to your item. It will harm your electric bill by making the compressor work harder and could potentially harm sensitive items like seafood, milk, cheese, eggs etc. Foods that harbour bacteria and are raw or very barely processed. But that's just the theory. If you were to put your fresh milk on the inside of the door which is swung open and held open 8-12 times a day, that could potentially do more harm than plonking warm items into the fridge. So... as stated, make a sensible call and don't fret too much.

With the bananas, it is almost impossible without altering the taste somewhat. Dressing with a bit of citric acid in juice would stop or slow the browning very considerably. It would also introduce nice vitamin C boosts to the diet. Unfortunately it would alter the taste significantly.

Sugar can do the same in solution or caramel, but again, I don't think that is what you are after.

The best solution would be to have one of those 'slap chop' things. Seriously, I'm a sharp knife freak, and I never use these things... but I can imagine for a child this would solve your problem. That and I don't think the daycare will allow you to bring a 11" Japanese forged chef's knife to a center filled with kids.

Shove a banana into your bag (it can come straight from the fridge or at room temp - being in the fridge doesn't hurt the banana, it WILL turn the skin a uniform unpleasant dark brown, but the insides are fine) and use the portable slap chop thingie at the daycare to prep the banana. Takes only a few seconds. But you'll have to wash up separately.

A slap chop is... this thingie: https://www.slapchop.com/
 

TristanC

Brilliant_Rock
Joined
Jun 6, 2011
Messages
995
Aoife|1311132087|2972694 said:
Unfortunately, this is just not true. While cross contamination from prep areas, sneezing, pet hair, etc., can certainly occur, you are just incorrect in saying that cooling a large volume of food at room temperature and then heating it up later will take care of any potential problems. Quick cooling and then refrigeration is key to preventing later food-bourne illness, and reheating will not kill off toxins that some bacteria produce. You're giving potentially dangerous advice, TristanC.

ETA:
Here's a link with good basic food safety information:
http://www.foodsafety.gov
Oh and for the record, I agree with Aoife without reservation if I were a food professional, or working in a restaurant. Simply too many ways for food to get contaminated, and the environment itself is more likely to cause problems due to the working temperature and the number of people etc. Too many variables so it is definitely in everyone's interest to err on the side of caution.

A good kitchen would have equipment that would allow a controlled ice bath or a blast freezer too to respond to the situations were I need to cool a thing down fast.

At home, i just wouldn't sweat it. But yeah, with stews I tend only to have to fridge smaller portions (not the whole pot), and with soups/stocks I would portion into individual bags for freezing once cooled.
 
Be a part of the community It's free, join today!
    Good Customer Service Goes a Long Way
    Good Customer Service Goes a Long Way
    5.5 Carat Diamond Upgrade
    5.5 Carat Diamond Upgrade
    Style File: Julia Roberts
    Style File: Julia Roberts

Need Something Special?

Get a quote from multiple trusted and vetted jewelers.

Holloway Cut Advisor



Diamond Eye Candy

Click to view full-size image.
Top