In the spirit of food safety, today’s technique is all about how to cool, reheat, and thaw food safely. Most don’t realize that there is a proper way to do this so that you can cut down your chances of getting sick and that improper cooling, reheating, and thawing can raise the possibilities of food born illnesses!
Cooling food properly can be a huge help in keeping food free from bacteria that can cause you to become sick. Cooked food actually needs to be cooled down to at the very least 39F (4C) within four hours. At 39F (4C) chilled food is below the “danger zone,” which is where bacteria can grow quickly.
This can be achieved by refrigerating solid foods in a single layer in shallow containers. Larger meats should be cut into smaller portions and cooled to room temperature and then wrapped before refrigerating or freezing. Liquids should be placed in an ice bath to bring the temperature down quickly. The proper temperature for a freezer is 0F (-17.7C), so make sure food is already cooled before freezing, and don’t let food stand at room temp for longer than 30 minutes before you freeze it.
When it comes to defrosting or thawing foods, you must remember to never defrost meat, poultry, seafood, dairy, or eggs at room temp. Do it only in a refrigerator for 24- 48 hours. This may take longer than at room temp, but the time you spend waiting is much better than the time you’ll spend sick! A rule for time needed to allow food to thaw in a refrigerator is:
- 8 hours per pound of meat
- 4 hours per pound of poultry
- 6 hours per pound of fruit or veggies
If you need to thaw food quickly, do it in a watertight container in cold water, that should be changed every 30 minutes until completely thawed. Only foods that are low in water content (low in moisture) should be thawed at room temperature such as bread, cookies or cakes. Don’t thaw food using hot water since it can cause bacteria growth in the food.
When reheating food, the internal temperature needs to be at 165F (74C) and must get there within 2 hours. If this isn’t possible, reheat it in smaller batches. To reheat without thawing, bake it at 300 – 350F (150 – 175C) for close to twice as long as the usual cooking time. If reheating liquids, bring them to a boil to make sure bacteria is gone.
If you follow these steps when it comes to cooling, reheating, and thawing your foods, you can greatly reduce the risk of yourself and your family getting a food born illness!
Photo by stevendepolo.