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from the pot to the fridge?


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My wife and I have a disagreement about soup storage. She insists that you must cool a soup to room temperature before placing it into the fridge or it will spoil. I, on the other side, see no reason not to move a newly prepared and still warm soup directly into cold storage in a container. Is there some validity to her claims? (I sure hope I am right!)

Thanks in advance.

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Allowing the soup to cool to room temperature is not going to significantly change the time frame in which the soup will spoil. Neither is placing it directly into the icebox.

I'm not going to ask what either of your lines of thinking are for which side of the argument you're on (for fear of channeling a Magliozzi brother), but I think you should give in if sticking to your guns will make you sleep on the couch. Otherwise, you're right.

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Random speculation:

It seems to me that there is less risk of spoiling the soup if it goes directly into the fridge. The soup is obviously going to cool down more quickly in the one-step direct-to-fridge process than the two-step counter-then-fridge process. I take it as an article of faith that nasty pathogens are more likely to be found on my counters than in my fridge, so not only is the one-step process faster, but it is taking place in a safer environment.

There is probably some risk that the residual heat in the soup will warm up the inside of your fridge, especially the nearby items, though. The materiality of that risk will depend upon several factors, including the amount and temp of the hot soup, the size and configuration of your fridge, and what else you have inside it, and where realtive to the soup.

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I can't see how it would make any difference as long as you don't leave the soup out for hours and hours. I let mine cool off just to keep the fridge from running a lot.

The nice thing about soup is that you reheat it to boil, so any little nasty that might be in there will get simmerred to death prior to ingesting the leftovers, most likely.

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Hate to burst your bubble but:

Foodborne illness (or food poisoning) may be caused by any one of the four organisms: bacteria, viruses, parasites and toxins. These organisms may already be present in the food or may be directly introduced by unsafe food handling practices.

Food must be cooled quickly (preferably in a ice bath....) before you place it in the cooler/fridge.

To prevent the multiplication of disease-causing organisms food must be kept out of the temperature "danger zone". The temperature "danger zone" is temperatures between 4°C - 60°C (39°F - 140°F). Organisms grow very quickly when they are within the temperature "danger zone" range.

However, once the food has been cooked and is ready to be cooled it must reach a cooling temperature of 4°C (39F) within a two to four hour timeframe.

Food can be cooled quickly and safely by:

* Dividing large portions into smaller pieces. This will increase the surface area that is being cooled and as a result decrease the amount of cooling time required.

* Cool foods using 4"-6" shallow containers, not large, deep pots. Using shallow containers enables the food to cool down to below 4°C much faster.

* Add ice cubes to the food, or cool by immersing the container into an ice bath.

* Never leave hazardous food at room temperature or in the temperature "danger zone".

Leaving a hot soup in the cooler allows it to stay in that dangerous zone for too long.

John

It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.

Hunter S. Thompson ---- R.I.P. 1939 - 2005

"Clothes make the man. Naked people have little or no influence on society."

--Mark Twain

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I had always been told that hot foods needed to cool down before going in the fridge. But then several years ago I read an article that said that the cool-down process provides a perfect breeding ground for bacteria (they apparently love and thrive in that warm stage). The article said that the rapid cool-down in the fridge discourages bacterial growth. Seems to make sense.

Whoops. See dodger's post above...

Edited by emmalish (log)

I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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I do the rapid cool down method. I have some of the very large cold packs, (Blue Ice) on which I place a piece of terry toweling to keep the pot from slipping and set the pot on the towel.

I have a stainless steel asparagus steamer, tall, skinny pot, which goes into my freezer full of water when the stock (or soup) goes on the stove so it is a solid block of ice when stock is done.

I happen to have a piece of metal wire covered with plastic, with a leash snap on each end, which snaps onto one handle of the stock pot, threads through the two handles of the asparagus pot and snaps onto the other handle of the stockpot, therefore holding upright and suspening the pot full of ice in the stock.

This is the most rapid method of cooling soup or stock or anything else in a large pot that I have used over the years. (And I have tried just about everything.)

When I still had my old "extra" freezer, that stored only ice, I used to set the pot in there till it was cool (with a timer near me so I would remember to take it out before it froze solid), but I no longer have that option.

I have considered puttin in a separate freezer drawer dedicated to stuff like this but so far have not gotten around to it.

I never, never, never put anything hot into the fridge. It can raise the temp in the fridge to levels that means anything else in there is compromised. I have a separate thermometer hanging on the center shelf inside the door (which is always the warmest point in a refrigerator) and I make sure that stays at 40 degrees or lower.

If you have a thermometer in any other part of the fridge, the door compartments will be considerably higher which is why some people complain of milk spoiling if it is in the door compartments. Not cold enough!

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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A refrigerator is a poor vehicle for cooling things down, so you are much better off cooling your soup before putting it in the fridge. Refrigerators are made to hold a constant cold temperature and the compressors do a poor job of bringing the overall temperature down fast enough if it is offset by a very hot item in your fridge (and it will help wear out your compressor faster). That is why a lot of restaurants employ a blast chiller. Putting hot items in the fridge was a major no-no in my Serv-Safe program

I have found the soup cools a lot faster if you use the following method at home. This method will cool the soup much faster than the refrigerator and won't affect other items.

Put your soup vessel into an empty sink and fill the sink up with cold water to 2/3 of the way up your soup vessel (or as high as possible if you can't get it that high. Start stirring the soup constantly with a wooden spoon (not so hard that you splash water into your soup -- a metal spoon is ok, but will get hotter faster). If the water in the sink starts to get warm, empty it and re-fill the sink to the same level (do as often as necessary). Cool the soup to room temperature, then get it into the refrigerator asap. By this method, I am able to cool a 12-quart container of soup to room temperature within about 5-10 minutes. If you want it to go even faster, buy an ice paddle. It is a large icepack shaped like the end of an oar and if you freeze it, you can use it to stir the soup and you get cooling from the outside and inside as well.

I have found this method to work consistently.

Edited by mikeycook (log)

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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I thank you all for the insight. I will pre-cool my soups before putting in the fridge now. I'm gonna look for one of those frozen paddles too. The cooling process you described reminds me of cooling down the wort (while making beer) to 100F to pitch the yeast.

Also, nice tribute Dodger!

"It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.

Hunter S. Thompson ---- R.I.P. 1939 - 2005"

Woody creek will never be the same...

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I'm not a pro, but to cool down stocks (not only to put in the fridge, but also to aid in fat skimming) I put ice or ice packs in plastic baggies which I then put in the container holding the strained stock. I then put this in a sink filled with cold water. Works pretty quickly.

Bill Russell

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This was also addressed briefly in this thread. Maybe it helps to make the distinction between cooling to room temp and cooling at room temp. I think the most important point here is that a large volume of hot soup will likely cool too slowly either on the counter OR in the refrigerator, making it vulnerable to bacterial growth until it is thoroughly chilled. The high heat capacity of soup (which is to say, water, essentially the same for all moist foods) also means that it will give up a great deal of heat to the refrigerator and its other contents before it comes down to temp, which may endanger the items around it, as well. Soup is typically an excellent culture medium and should be chilled more quickly. I usually do this by setting the pot in a small sink and filling up with ice water around it. The thread linked above describes putting ice in zip bags right into the soup, as well.

This is something to think about whenever you have a substantial mass of hot food that needs to be refrigerated. The total heat content of your food depends on the quantity (mass, not volume) and the temp. The larger those numbers, the more heat has to be dissipated to get down to storage temp. This has implications for how long it will take to achieve a safe temp as well as for the risk of warming other contents of of your refrigerator.

Fern

P.S. I see that others have made similar points while I have been on the telephone. :wink:

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I thank you all for the insight. I will pre-cool my soups before putting in the fridge now. I'm gonna look for one of those frozen paddles too. The cooling process you described reminds me of cooling down the wort (while making beer) to 100F to pitch the yeast.

Also, nice tribute Dodger!

"It was the Law of the Sea, they said. Civilization ends at the waterline. Beyond that, we all enter the food chain, and not always right at the top.

Hunter S. Thompson ---- R.I.P. 1939 - 2005"

Woody creek will never be the same...

The paddle is also called a "cooling wand." Here is an example called "Rapi-Kool". This site has 64oz and 128oz versions.

http://www.superprod.com/webapp/wcs/stores...egory_rn=112983

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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Those of you reccomending ice-baths and blast chillers need to take a BIG step back and look at the big picture. Every day, billions of people across the world at home are leaving soups, stews and every other cooked item to cool on the counter and then transferring to the fridge, sometimes as much as 48 hours yet Restaurants are still the major vector of food poisoning.

Applying restaurant standard food handling to home situations just isn't worth the effort. Personally, my strategy has always been to use a pot with a tight fitting, holeless lid. Bring the soup to a boil with the lid on and then turn off the flame and leave it. As the soup cools down, the internal pressure drops and creates a slight vacuum seal around the lid. As everything inside the pot has been steaming for the last 30 minutes, the insides of the pot are effectively a sterile area and it's perfectly safe to leave the pot overnight. The key is to resist the urge to crack open the lid to look inside. Once it's cool, it can then be portioned into containers and stuck in the fridge.

PS: I am a guy.

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Those of you reccomending ice-baths and blast chillers need to take a BIG step back and look at the big picture. Every day, billions of people across the world at home are leaving soups, stews and every other cooked item to cool on the counter and then transferring to the fridge, sometimes as much as 48 hours yet Restaurants are still the major vector of food poisoning.

My mom is the queen of poor food handling practices like this. Christmas turkey was regularly left out all day for snacking. Soups and stews that we had for lunch were left on the counter all day if we were going to have them again for dinner.

I got sick all the time when I was a kid. I thought I was just really susceptible to the flu until I got out on my own and found out how food should be handled. Suddenly it all made sense. :wacko:

That said, I let foods cool down a bit, but not fully, before I put them in the fridge. So they're not so hot that they're affecting foods around them, but they also haven't been sitting out for hours. I've never given myself food poisoning yet (knock wood).

Edited by emmalish (log)

I'm gonna go bake something…

wanna come with?

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Those of you reccomending ice-baths and blast chillers need to take a BIG step back and look at the big picture. Every day, billions of people across the world at home are leaving soups, stews and every other cooked item to cool on the counter and then transferring to the fridge, sometimes as much as 48 hours yet Restaurants are still the major vector of food poisoning.

Applying restaurant standard food handling to home situations just isn't worth the effort. Personally, my strategy has always been to use a pot with a tight fitting, holeless lid. Bring the soup to a boil with the lid on and then turn off the flame and leave it. As the soup cools down, the internal pressure drops and creates a slight vacuum seal around the lid. As everything inside the pot has been steaming for the last 30 minutes, the insides of the pot are effectively a sterile area and it's perfectly safe to leave the pot overnight. The key is to resist the urge to crack open the lid to look inside. Once it's cool, it can then be portioned into containers and stuck in the fridge.

I don't doubt your statement that restaurants are a bigger cause of food poisoning than homes, but a big reason for this is that restaurants generally have inferior refrigeration (i.e. large open refrigerators that are opened WAY too frequently and, thus, don't stay below 40 deg.) This is the same situation you can create by putting large tubs of hot soup into a refrigerator.

I can't speak for your specific method (although I would be interested in knowing how it is judged "perfectly safe"), but I have never found cooling soup before putting it in the fridge to be that big an effort. 5 minutes of stirring with a wooden spoon (I don't use the paddle) in a bath of cold water has never been a real problem. And I am certainly not following restaurant-safe procedures. Personally I find it easier to cool the soup in about 5 minutes and get it in the fridge than have to deal with it the next day.

Regarding your method, do you do this for all types of soup (i.e. cream soups, soups containing seafood, etc.?)

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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Those of you reccomending ice-baths and blast chillers need to take a BIG step back and look at the big picture. Every day, billions of people across the world at home are leaving soups, stews and every other cooked item to cool on the counter and then transferring to the fridge, sometimes as much as 48 hours yet Restaurants are still the major vector of food poisoning.

My mom is the queen of poor food handling practices like this. Christmas turkey was regularly left out all day for snacking. Soups and stews that we had for lunch were left on the counter all day if we were going to have them again for dinner.

I got sick all the time when I was a kid. I thought I was just really susceptible to the flu until I got out on my own and found out how food should be handled. Suddenly it all made sense. :wacko:

That said, I let foods cool down a bit, but not fully, before I put them in the fridge. So they're not so hot that they're affecting foods around them, but they also haven't been sitting out for hours. I've never given myself food poisoning yet (knock wood).

I disagree that this is a poor food handling practice. Broadly speaking yes, within certain cultural contexts, no. In a Korean home kitchen Shalmanese's method is the one that's been used god knows how long. When I was little girl in Korea we didn't have a refrigerator. My husband who grew up in the French country spent his entire childhood without one as well, his mom bought one about 10 years ago. His mom also made a lot of "tajines" that sometimes sat on the stove all day, served for lunch and dinner.

Neither one us has ever gotten sick from eating a tajine or a Korean stew.

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I would rather be safe than sorry.

I was one of a number of people who had food poisoning from a stew that was served at a church benefit. It was cooked, left at room temperature for a bit more than three hours, then heated and served.

I was hospitalized for 36 hours and it was not fun. Several people in the group were in the hospital longer than me, with more severe symptoms.

I never want to be the cause of someone going through what I went through.

"There are, it has been said, two types of people in the world. There are those who say: this glass is half full. And then there are those who say: this glass is half empty. The world belongs, however, to those who can look at the glass and say: What's up with this glass? Excuse me? Excuse me? This is my glass? I don't think so. My glass was full! And it was a bigger glass!" Terry Pratchett

 

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Dude, if you truly live in the northern AZ mountains where it's dry and all of that, unless you make your soup in a kitchen that runs 12+hours a day every day and is constantly hot + steamy, you're not going to have the conditions to have enough vegetative bacteria floating around to inoculate your soup with enough of a culture to have a meaningful population in the time your soup will cool in your refrigerator.

The difference between a personal kitchen that is used at 3 distinct times a day and then sits and a commercial kitchen is that the personal kitchen spends much more time dry, so there aren't the cultures present that are readily available to cause illness. That's why I'm advocating you doing what makes your wife happy (or you, if it's not a huge argument).

Just a few days ago I posted something along this line in another food safety topic. Bully for you for being proactive, but you'll go further by cleaning your kitchen regularly and not letting biomass build up or water stand around. Being someone who does environmental quality control for parenteral drug manufacturing, this is something that I do have to keep an eye on, and has given me a new appreciation for the differences between Les Halles's kitchen, and mine.

So, my advice to you, again, is "Relax. Don't worry. Have a homebrew." Our ancestors certainly lived through worse food conditions, so I'm certain you will too. It's not worth being hypertensive about if you're healthy and robust--ditto for your wife and other housemates.

Edit to soothe my internal grammar police.

Edited by jsolomon (log)

I always attempt to have the ratio of my intelligence to weight ratio be greater than one. But, I am from the midwest. I am sure you can now understand my life's conundrum.

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Common sense, which is not so common and is certainly culturally influenced, can be of use here. Soups with meat, poultry, seafood, tofu etc will spoil faster than vegetable soups, unless they have potatoes. Cream or milk also spoil more quickly. African, Middle Eastern and Asian cuisines tend to use spices, herbs and fermented ingredients more than say "Western" cookery. Before refrigeration was more widely available alot of stuff was just left out in these countries. I think that herbs, spices and fermented ingredients can deter spoilage (well the fermented stuff is basically "controlled" spoilage).

A basic Korean dwenjang chigae will not go bad in three hours. Ain't gonna happen. Ya think that the a country French person traditionally refrigerated Coq au Vin even for eating the next day? Non.

Of course I advocate playing it safe. We all have different comfort zones when it comes to food safety and some of us have stronger stomachs. I won't be running for the ice for every kind of soup I make at home though. My husband won't be either.

Hubby is also an industry professional. In a commercial kitchen ALWAYS cool with ice.

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I don't doubt your statement that restaurants are a bigger cause of food poisoning than homes, but a big reason for this is that restaurants generally have inferior refrigeration (i.e. large open refrigerators that are opened WAY too frequently and, thus, don't stay below 40 deg.)  This is the same situation you can create by putting large tubs of hot soup into a refrigerator.

I can't speak for your specific method (although I would be interested in knowing how it is judged "perfectly safe"), but I have never found cooling soup before putting it in the fridge to be that big an effort.  5 minutes of stirring with a wooden spoon (I don't use the paddle) in a bath of cold water has never been a real problem.  And I am certainly not following restaurant-safe procedures.  Personally I find it easier to cool the soup in about 5 minutes and get it in the fridge than have to deal with it the next day.

Regarding your method, do you do this for all types of soup (i.e. cream soups, soups containing seafood, etc.?)

If you think about it, your effectively rudimentrally canning the food. The procedure is pretty similar. If a procedure can keep food sterile for 6+ months, I'm pretty confident it can do it overnight.

PS: I am a guy.

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  • 3 weeks later...

I don't doubt your statement that restaurants are a bigger cause of food poisoning than homes, but a big reason for this is that restaurants generally have inferior refrigeration (i.e. large open refrigerators that are opened WAY too frequently and, thus, don't stay below 40 deg.)  This is the same situation you can create by putting large tubs of hot soup into a refrigerator.

I can't speak for your specific method (although I would be interested in knowing how it is judged "perfectly safe"), but I have never found cooling soup before putting it in the fridge to be that big an effort.  5 minutes of stirring with a wooden spoon (I don't use the paddle) in a bath of cold water has never been a real problem.  And I am certainly not following restaurant-safe procedures.  Personally I find it easier to cool the soup in about 5 minutes and get it in the fridge than have to deal with it the next day.

Regarding your method, do you do this for all types of soup (i.e. cream soups, soups containing seafood, etc.?)

If you think about it, your effectively rudimentrally canning the food. The procedure is pretty similar. If a procedure can keep food sterile for 6+ months, I'm pretty confident it can do it overnight.

Just to be clear, I am not advocating everyone buy a blast chiller or follow restaurant procedures or even that they dismiss your approach, only that peole not put gallons of hot liquid into their refrigerator, which will potentially make other foods unsafe (milk, etc.) and wear out your refrigerator more quickly (because it will work harder and longer to get back to temperature).

The only issue I would personally have with your process is being able to keep other people from lifting the lid on your pot to see what's inside and ruining your seal (people are nosy in my house).

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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