Thread Number: 71241  /  Tag: Refrigerators
Letting items cool before putting in fridge
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Post# 942863   6/10/2017 at 12:37 by fan-of-fans (Florida)        

What do you do and what is the better way? My folks always had the practice of letting hot items cool down a bit before putting them into the fridge.

I can kind of see the reasoning as it takes a bit of strain off the fridge. I suppose it could save energy and stabilize the temperature.

On the other hand, I think putting them in the fridge immediately will lessen the time that they are in the danger zone range of 40-140 degrees F, as I would assume they will cool faster in the fridge than in room temperature air.

Putting lots of hot items in the fridge at once will obviously heat it up considerably, but one or two items I would think wouldn't do much.

Post# 942866 , Reply# 1   6/10/2017 at 13:16 by foraloysius (Groningen, the Netherlands)        

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Stir! You have to stir food now and then that is cooling. That's what my brother told me. He's working for the Dutch food authorities. It has become a running gag in the family. Stir! Then when it has cooled off to about room temperature, you can put it in the fridge.

Post# 942873 , Reply# 2   6/10/2017 at 13:47 by Travis ()        

It's not just the increased load on the refrigerator.  Sometimes you wouldn't want the condensation that would result.

Post# 942877 , Reply# 3   6/10/2017 at 13:57 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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Yes, both the condensation and increased load on fridge are good reasons to let foods cool before going in.

Stirring of foods isn't something one does or would do; I mean with casseroles, baked ziti, lasagna, etc... how could one?

Usually allow things to sit while meal is served and being eaten. When it comes time to do the washing up nearly everything has cooled enough to go into fridge.

Years ago before microwave ovens became common place often foods were left in oven at "keep warm" setting. That and or sterno and warming pans were used. Now we only do this for large gatherings such as Thanksgiving or such. Often now people who arrive "late" or whatever simply prepare their plate and into the microwave it goes for reheating.

Post# 942879 , Reply# 4   6/10/2017 at 14:41 by ea56 (Sonoma Co.,CA)        

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I always cool hot items a bit before putting then in the fridge, until they are just warm or very warm, but not hot. If I have a large pot of soup, spaghetti sauce, beans or the like I cool the pot in cold water first. I fill the kitchen sink with coldest water available and place the vessel in the water and let it cool until the bottom of the pan is just warm to the touch. Then remove the pot from the water, dry off the pan and place in the fridge. This way the food stays safe and there isn't too much stress put on the fridge and the fridge doesn't get too warm trying to cool off a very hot pan. Alternatively, I put the hot food into a more shallow pan so it will cool off more quickly before refrigeration.

Post# 942885 , Reply# 5   6/10/2017 at 15:11 by easy (Boston, Mass)        
Cooling off items before putting them in the fridge

I think that this practice probably dates to when kitchens had an ice box. Putting a hot item in the ice box would have resulted in a rapid loss of ice.

Most homes probably had regularly scheduled ice deliveries so one had to be sure the ice lasted until the next delivery.


Post# 942888 , Reply# 6   6/10/2017 at 15:42 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        

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I`d never put hot or warm food in the fridge. I think doing so is a waste of energy and even might put other more sensitive food at risk.
I`ve heard about the "danger zone" but unless we`re talking undercooked food like a medium rare steak and as long as good kitchen hygiene is practiced there should be very few germs to begin with.
I just let it cool to room temperature before it goes into the fridge and when it`s reheated it will be heated to a safe temperature again.

Putting a pot in cold water in the kitchen sink is an excellent idea though, will keep that in mind.

This post was last edited 06/10/2017 at 15:59
Post# 942890 , Reply# 7   6/10/2017 at 16:01 by norgeway (mocksville n c )        
Another reason

To let food cool, at least to below the steaming point, if you cover steaming hot food and put it in the fridge, it will sweat like crazy, whenyou remove it later it will be covered with water...not good!

Post# 942892 , Reply# 8   6/10/2017 at 16:04 by panthera (Rocky Mountains)        
Eddie has the right idea,

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If it has to cool down fast. When I cook foods which are temperamental in hot, muggy weather, I make sure they're either above the danger zone or way below it right quick. All two weeks of 70+ 25º+humidity. When we have it.

Post# 943043 , Reply# 9   6/11/2017 at 16:26 by Combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Put the food in the refrigerator as soon as possible.

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But use commonsense don't put it in if it still boiling or if you're putting 2 gallons of hot liquid in the refrigerator.

But when I prepare food I always serve up the food and put the leftovers away immediately, not only does the food keep better but you also don't have to worry about forgetting about it and someone getting sick, the small amount of energy used and the humidity that comes out of it is insignificant in a modern frost free refrigerator.

Post# 943049 , Reply# 10   6/11/2017 at 16:59 by perc-o-prince (Southboro, Mass)        

As Stefan eluded to- sometimes the risk isn't the food you're adding but the food already there. Wouldn't want something temp-sensitive to have a pot of sauce that's just warm enough next to it to take it into the danger zone for a bit!

I think a lot of this boils down to common sense (which means the cupcake generation will be totally lost on this!).


Post# 943095 , Reply# 11   6/11/2017 at 21:22 by Michaelman2 (Atlanta, GA)        

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Eddie, you are right, the food needs to be placed in an ice bath to rapidly cool it so it does not stay in the danger zone 40 degrees F - `140 degreesF) for to long.   Bacteria grow very quickly in the danger zone and then the refrigeration will not cool it quickly enough to be safe.   If the item is heated to 165 degrees F for five minutes, the bacteria will be killed.


If there were spores or other toxins produced in the refrigerated item, cooking will not suffice and can be very dangerous.   Rice is a great example of something that can produce a spore that even when cooked can become toxic if left at the food danger temp listed above for a period of time.


One bout of food poisoning will make anyone skiddish about  food safety and food handling.   

Post# 943111 , Reply# 12   6/11/2017 at 22:10 by warmsecondrinse (Fort Lee, NJ)        

The chef/food prep classes I've interpreted were all quite emphatic about the need to cool food quickly. Apparently many health codes have rules about how long a time a food is allowed to take to cool from serving to storage temp.

I've even seen large cooling paddles that were filled with a non-toxic gel that froze well below 32F/0C. They're placed into pots of soup/sauce to speed the cooling process.


Post# 943119 , Reply# 13   6/11/2017 at 22:53 by earthling177 (Boston, MA)        


Precisely. The problem seems to be that when you are at home, you are more likely to be using smaller quantities than restaurants/commercial kitchens.

Very large containers with pasta, for example, can still be warm inside when it's completely cooled outside. Home quantities cool much faster and more completely.

Post# 943130 , Reply# 14   6/11/2017 at 23:12 by LordKenmore (The Laundry Room)        

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the small amount of energy used and the humidity that comes out of it is insignificant in a modern frost free refrigerator.


Of course, a number of people here don't have modern refrigerators...

Post# 943144 , Reply# 15   6/12/2017 at 02:19 by Launderess (Quiet Please, There´s a Lady on Stage)        

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"also don't have to worry about forgetting about it and someone getting sick,"

Well can only obviously speak for oneself, but can honestly say have never been such a slovenly housekeeper to have left foods out long enough for them to potentially spoil and or cause illness. Nor am anywhere near off my game to have "forgotten" there was washing up to do in the kitchen including putting away food.

Just what are some of you sitting down to that meals go on for so long that intervals between preparation and clean up are so long anyway? Eighteen course gourmet meals?

Post# 943155 , Reply# 16   6/12/2017 at 08:06 by mayken4now (Panama City, Florida)        

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Cool it fast with ice, then away it goes

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