Here is another topic that should interest most of us since we all use a refrigerator. There are many rules and recommendations for a good usage of your fridge including the best way to organize it and the products you should and shouldn’t use to clean it. I am sure we would all benefit from reviewing (or viewing) them, but today I wanted to address one specific subject: should you put a hot dish right away in your fridge or wait for it to cool down first?
You would think it is an easy one and that the answer should be straight forward, right? It is very interesting to see how many different opinions and guidelines you can get, even on such a trivial and secondary topic. So after reconciling what I was taught since childhood and that has worked for me so far, and other more up-to-date observations, here are my recommendations:
-Do not put a very hot dish in the refrigerator because it will increase the inside temperature and put all the other foods at risk. In addition to this, the machine will have to overwork to bring the temperature down. Remember, the optimal temperature to best limit the development of microorganisms is between 37 and 41 °F (the vegetable compartment is slightly warmer). It is also the best temperature to preserve the nutritional qualities of foods.
-The rule of the two hours seems to be agreed upon by most people: you should not leave cooked food at room temperature for more than two hours before putting it in the fridge. Think of a nice family dinner that can last for an hour and a half, and by the time you are done with the cleaning, and you put those leftovers in the refrigerator, that is approximately two hours. That is okay. Now, if you do not clean up right away (that is bad, you should be ashamed of yourself) and leave that lasagna out the whole night, you should toss it away the next day. The same rule applies to a dish you are taking out of the refrigerator to eat it: not more than two hours before consumption (this seems too long to me: I am applying the 30-minute rule myself).
-So to go back to our hot dish and what you should do with it beside eating it: unless it is the gratin that you are supposed to bring to the next day potluck, divide it in smaller portions so it can cool down quicker. Use small and shallow containers, let them cool down for approximately 30 minutes, and then cover and put the containers in the refrigerator. The goal is to put the food in the refrigerator as soon as possible (always quicker than 2 hours) without warming up the inside of the refrigerator. So if it is cooler outside, you can put your dish on your patio or balcony (just do not drop it, please) and reduce the time.
-TRY to remember when you put the food in the fridge as it is not always obvious that something has gone bad: relying on the smell or appearance is unfortunately not enough because many times, bacteria do not cause any visible changes.
-Also, to better maintain the right temperature inside the refrigerator, do not overload it, and make sure there is space between the different containers for air to circulate. Get rid of extra packaging such as those around packs of yogurt and so on. This has two advantages: it favors the air circulation and good refrigeration of the yogurt (for example) and minimizes the risk of contamination due to potentially dirty packaging. Do not let the door open longer than necessary and make sure it closes properly.
-Lastly, if unfortunately you do get food poisoning, remember to use the homeopathic medicine Arsenicum album 9C, 5 pellets sublingually as often as needed!