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Cool down period for Chili....


Jan Primus
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Jan - you want to get your chili through the "danger zone" - under 140 degrees and above 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) as quickly as possible. However, it does not make sense to put a steaming hot pot of chili into a home fridge, because the fridge can't chill it down fast enough.

There are several ways to proceed. I use my infared thermometer to check periodically, and wait until a pot of a viscous product like chili is down to 140* before putting it into the fridge. I also use an ice paddle (from the restaurant supply store) to speed the chilling process from the inside of the pot.

If you don't have either of these toys, you can ladle the chili out into smaller containers, and let it cool on the counter for a while, then refrigerate, stirring periodically. Even better would be a brief trip to the freezer, to be followed by a move to the fridge once it seems cold.

There is another technique you can use if you have a lot of ice - put the hot pot in your sink and load the sink up with ice, and keep stirring the chili until it cools, then separate into smaller pans and refrigerate.

Mind you, if this is just for you - a lot of people will say the heck with all the safety rules; let it cool on the counter then refrigerate. All I know is that when I took my food safety course, the instructor told us how they played with a big (industrial size) pot of chili for fun, resting it on the counter, then in a regular fridge in its pot, and measuring the temperature. It took 3 days to get below 40*.

Edited by NancyH (log)

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I typically take it off the heat and let it sit for a while, then I portion it out into smaller containers, letting it sit out again before I stick lids on those and put some in the freezer and some in the fridge. I've never had any issues doing it that way. I do that for soups, stews, whatever you can think of.

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I have a little "cool down" chair out on the deck just outside the kitchen that I use a lot in cold weather for the purpose. I like to use the climate to whatever advantage I can. Once it's as cold as the fridge, in it goes. In the summer I use some cold well water as a "chiller".

HC

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The primary reason not to put a giant vat of steaming-hot stuff in the fridge is because it will seriously affect the temperature in the fridge. It will warm stuff you don't want warmed and it may throw off the thermostat, no?

I have never had any problems with chile or anything else if I decant into storage containers and cool on the counter, tops off, til the food is merely warm, or close to room temp. The ice-bath technique is great if you are in a hurry. A snowbank works too, unless there are bears or monkeys about. Or put the pot out on the deck of your highrise if you should be so lucky as to have one. Keep the cover on though if you have Redtails nesting on the ledge above.

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Jan - you want to get your chili through the "danger zone" - under 140 degrees and above 40 degrees (Fahrenheit) as quickly as possible.  However, it does not make sense to put a steaming hot pot of chili into a home fridge, because the fridge can't chill it down fast enough.

...

Mind you, if this is just for you - a lot of people will say the heck with all the safety rules; let it cool on the counter then refrigerate.  All I know is that when I took my food safety course, the instructor told us how they played with a big (industrial size) pot of chili for fun, resting it on the counter, then in a regular fridge in its pot, and measuring the temperature.  It took 3 days to get below 40*.

To add on to NancyH's sage advice, if you are concerned about food safety (for others), remember that the chili can only be between 40 and 140 deg F for a TOTAL of four hours. This includes reheating time as well.

Personally, I like the idea of portioning into smaller containers or placing the pot into a sink full of ice and periodically stirring.

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I have a two-liter bottle that used to contain soda or something. I fill it 2/3 full with water and store it in my freezer all the time. (I washed the outside really well first.) Then when I need chili or soup/ stock cooled, I put the soda bottle into the soup. I usually transfer the soup to a different pan first, because a lot of the heat comes off when you put it in a cool pan.

This is probably a similar method to Nancy's ice paddle.

Ellen

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I have used large freezer zip lock bags for things like soup and chili. I fill them from the pot hot and toss them in a sink full of the ice from the freezer. Gives me the opportunity to clean the ice bin too. I generally just leave the items in the zip locks and put them in the fridge unless I am going to freeze, in which case I'll portion and vacuum seal.

I have been wanting a commercial ice paddle, but seem to get by without. Freezing water bottles seems to work well if you have room in the pot for them and feel ok with putting PET bottles in your hot food.

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Freezing water bottles seems to work well if you have room in the pot for them and feel ok with putting PET bottles in your hot food.

I wonder if heavy glass bottles could be substituted for the plastic ones.

In cold weather, I stick the (covered) pot on the porch for a fast chill. Putting the pot in a sinkful of cold/ice water is effective, too--just change the water as it warms up. And, as noted above, smaller amounts will chill more rapidly.

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Another quick chill method involves a roasting pan full of ice/water, and a smaller (9x13?) pan into which you pour the hot food. Or, a bowl, in a bowl of ice & water. I use those re-freezable picnic packs to chill the waterbath whenever I can.

Karen Dar Woon

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