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Proper Way To Cool Food Before Storing in The Fridge?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 

Hi,

What is the proper procedure when you have a pot of hot tomato sauce or soup, or anything else for that matter that is piping hot, and you want to refrigerate/freeze it for later use; do you take it from the stove or oven and go right into the cooler or do you let it cool a bit or all the way down to room temperature?

 

(I doubt you would let it cool to room temperature because then the 40-140 rule goes out the window.)

 

As you can tell, I have a clue but, I'm looking for a professional opinion so I can put it to rest with a few people I know who argue with me over these kinds of issues, both non-cooks and know-it-alls.

 

Red.

 

PS: Happy new year to everyone.

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post #2 of 19

I let it cool a bit and then ladle it into small containers and it cools pretty quickly.  If you want to cool it down even faster you fill your sink with ice and place the containers on the ice.  

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post #3 of 19

An ice bath is the best. Put the pot in the sink and then dump ice around the pot. Stir the sauce to move the cold part of the sauce to cool faster. Shallow pans will also cool faster at room temp so you can put them in the refer quicker. 

post #4 of 19

Ice bath, and if you're doing it at home throw in some ziploc bags with ice in them.

post #5 of 19

Ice Wands do a pretty good job, you can stir the pot with ice wand in a bath of ice water to chill the soup pretty quick.

 

post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 

Oh boy, how little I knew...

 

So, going right from the stove/oven to the fridge is a bad thing?

 

Red.

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post #7 of 19

It has the potential to raise the temp of the refrigerator (also depending upon the design of the unit, it can be hard on the cooling coils and fan) which is not good plus there is the danger of cross contamination due to convection currents. Bacteria likes warm moist environments. Hot items create warm moist air currents which can carry bacteria in a perfect environment for growing and multiplying. The warm moist air becomes water droplets in the form of condensation which can then drop into other foods creating cross contamination. This can be lessened if all items are covered however the hot item should not be covered so that it can cool as fast as possible and so it is still at risk of of being contaminated by the condensation droplets.

 

Safest and best bet is shallow pans and ice baths or wands to get the food out of the danger zone as quickly as possible before refrigerating

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post #8 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by redvan View Post
 

So, going right from the stove/oven to the fridge is a bad thing?

Yes, especially for a large batch of something: the food will take too long to go from hot to cold, which means it stays longer in the danger zone, which is when bacteria multiply at a fast rate. You want to go from hot to cold in the least amount of time possible. 

post #9 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by redvan View Post

Oh boy, how little I knew...

So, going right from the stove/oven to the fridge is a bad thing?

Red.

Not to mention that refrigerators nowadays have plastic shelving that will not tolerate hot pans on them. Plus, it puts other foods near it in peril.

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post #10 of 19

The great thing about winter is I have a walk in fridge called the outdoors.  Quick cooldown? Put your pot of stock on a snow bank

post #11 of 19

You can also get a 2" full size hotel pan.  Just dump your liquids in there for quick cooling.

post #12 of 19

The "ice wands" I use come in a variety of flavors. I think here we have cherry, blueberry and grape.

 

 

One drawback is that someday in the future the plastic might tear, and I'll be looking at a couple gallons of pina colada chicken stock.

 

mjb.

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post #13 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by teamfat View Post
 

The "ice wands" I use come in a variety of flavors. I think here we have cherry, blueberry and grape.

 

 

One drawback is that someday in the future the plastic might tear, and I'll be looking at a couple gallons of pina colada chicken stock.

 

mjb.

Nothing that cannot be salvaged by using in an Asian dish lol.

:level: :beer:.

 

mimi

post #14 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by redvan View Post
 

Oh boy, how little I knew...

 

So, going right from the stove/oven to the fridge is a bad thing?

 

Red.

 

 

 

 

 


Ah-yup, it is bad, very bad.  Your fridge is an airtight box with some decent seals around the door.  The fridge is designed to remove heat from foods at room temp to a storage temp of anywhere from +1-+6 cel., but it can't handle the temperatures of say, +70 or higher.  So where does that heat go if you put a pot of hot soup in the fridge?

 

Well, we know that hot air contains more humidity than cold air, we know that cold air is blown from the coil, and we know that when cold air meets hot air, precipitation happens.  Problem is, this precipitation tends to form around the coil (think a radiator that gets very cold) and forms ice on the fins.  Now the fan can't blow cold air through the coil, and your fridge starts to warm up.  So now, not only is your protein rich soup "camping out" in the temperature danger zone where bacteria multiply rapidly, but the rest of the stuff you have in your fridge is endangered as well.  Better/ modern fridges have defrost systems, but these usually kick in every 8 hrs.

 

In my professional career, I have seen everything from royal tongue lashings to physical violence and assault, to firings when some un-educated schmuck trucks in  a pot or hotel pan of hot liquids into the walk in.  Freezers too.

 

Ice wands work great, and most health dept.'s require them.  A decent substitute is a  1 gal. (4 liter) milk jug filled with water and frozen previously--toss this in your soup, and put the soup in a cold water bath, and you will get cold within 10 minutes. 

 

Putting stuff outside works great too, especially nestled in bed of snow,  but you have to remember that once the food gets cool enough not to burn the paws, snout, or beaks (d.a.m.h.I.k.t.) of any wandering critters, it's time to bring it back in.

...."This whole reality thing is really not what I expected it would be"......
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post #15 of 19

I have a live and learn example for you.  Years ago I got the bright idea of ordering 200 lbs. of goat.  Yep, goat.  Good stuff.  I stored the boxes in the freezer.

I for some reason decided that those boxes would be a good place to sit pans of food to cool for a little while...getting a head start.

I would sit the hot pans on the boxes for thirty minutes or so, then take them out of the freezer.

It was a couple of months before I got around to cooking my goat.

My goat was nasty...the meat was ruined due to repeated semi-thawing and refreezing from the pans.

 

Not a good idea, and I never did order any more goat.  I guess you could say it got my goat.  Still eat bbq goat, but get it locally.

post #16 of 19

To cool properly you need to pass through the "danger zone" within approximately 20 minutes. The D Zone is the range between 140 and 40 degrees F. This is what the various state dept's recommend and require for professional food service. 

 

The way you do it is to transfer your hot items to another clean pot. Submerge that pot in an ice bath, and stir with an ice stick. You'll find you can go from boiling to about 40 degrees F in about 10 to 15 minutes. 

 

You must keep an eye on the ice bath and replenish the ice as needed. You may also need more than one ice stick. It depends a great deal on the respective volumes. For example, 2 quarts of custard in a 5 gallon ice bath and it will come down in a few minutes using a wooden spoon. On the other hand, 12 quarts of stock in a 2 gallon ice bath and your ice bath will come up to in minutes, opposite of what you want.

 

Those are the official rules, well guidelines. However if your talking about 1 to 2  quarts of liquid, ie, soup or stock, you can transfer it to a shallow pan and cool it in the fridge without a problem, unofficially.  

post #17 of 19
Quote:
In my professional career, I have seen everything from royal tongue lashings to physical violence and assault, to firings when some un-educated schmuck trucks in  a pot or hotel pan of hot liquids into the walk in.  Freezers too.

I think that was warranted not because one pot or pan was in danger of raising the temperature of a walk-in but rather there was the danger of the container not being properly cooled at it's core in the time allotted. 

 

Quote:
 

To cool properly you need to pass through the "danger zone" within approximately 20 minutes. The D Zone is the range between 140 and 40 degrees F. This is what the various state dept's recommend and require for professional food service. 

 

The way you do it is to transfer your hot items to another clean pot. Submerge that pot in an ice bath, and stir with an ice stick. You'll find you can go from boiling to about 40 degrees F in about 10 to 15 minutes. 

 

You health dept may be different but it's a little less restrictive than that here in NY. The danger zone is the same but you are allowed to go from serving temp down to 70 deg f within no more than two hours and then to 45 deg f within four additional hours. So six hours total to go from serving temp down to cooler temp (34 deg) is what I shoot for. Then into the freezer if it's going to be frozen.

post #18 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by HalB View Post
 

I think that was warranted not because one pot or pan was in danger of raising the temperature of a walk-in but rather there was the danger of the container not being properly cooled at it's core in the time allotted. 

 

 

Oh, there is danger that the item was not being cooled properly within the time frame.  Danger too, of any item next to (or underneath or on top) of the hot pot/item warming up as well.  

 

However, if you took time to read my whole post, you'll understand what  steam/and/ or water vapour does to the coil.  If you're savvy, you'll also know that the de-frost cycle kicks in every 8 hrs for a period of 20 mins., so if the coil gets plugged with ice right after the defrost cycle, you'll never get back up to operating temp until you manually defrost the coil.  The defrost cycle is there to deal with regular room temp air and humidity entering the walk in every time you open the door.  (which is why strip curtains are a good idea) Steam is a big killer.  Not many people are knowledgeable about this, and unless you keep a manual log of walk in temps (which is required by many health dep'ts but usually ignored)  no one really pays much attention to the walk-in, how it works,or what temp it should operate at. 

 

Mold also has a habit of forming on walk-in walls and ceilings where ever a high protein item's steam (water vapour) was allowed to collect. 

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post #19 of 19
Quote:
Originally Posted by HalB View Post
 

I think that was warranted not because one pot or pan was in danger of raising the temperature of a walk-in but rather there was the danger of the container not being properly cooled at it's core in the time allotted. 

 

 

You health dept may be different but it's a little less restrictive than that here in NY. The danger zone is the same but you are allowed to go from serving temp down to 70 deg f within no more than two hours and then to 45 deg f within four additional hours. So six hours total to go from serving temp down to cooler temp (34 deg) is what I shoot for. Then into the freezer if it's going to be frozen.


You are absolutely right. I worked in NYC. It's been awhile and I completely forget about the two tier step down. My Bad!

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