Dear Home Ec 101,
While my parents were visiting over the Christmas holiday, I made a pot roast for us all to share. We had lots of leftovers and my mother emptied them from the hot crock pot into a tupperware container and left it sitting on the kitchen counter. I saw it sitting there, popped the lid on and put it in the fridge and my mother freaked. She said you can’t put hot foods in a cold refrigerator. Is that true?
The truth of the matter is that hot foods should be refrigerated as soon as possible. If there is a large quantity then it needs to be divided into two , preferably shallow containers. For example, my favorite way to freeze soups is to pour them into gallon freezer bags, press out the air, and close tightly. I then lie them flat to freeze. This method ensures as much surface area is exposed to the cold as possible, allowing rapid cooling.
Foods that cool too slowly will spend a long time in the “danger zone” for bacterial growth.
Remember to not have your fridge so crammed that air cannot circulate. Air must be able to move freely to be sure all parts of the refrigerator are properly cooled.
Try not to do the “I was right” happy dance in front of your mother. She may consider it rude.
There are plenty of commenters countering this advice.
I am passing along information drilled into my head from countless health inspectors learned over ten years in the restaurant industry. Hot food should be refrigerated promptly.
From the USDA
Finally here’s good ole Heloise
As noted the food should be placed in shallow containers to increase the surface area.
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