Many times in our industry, food is cooked ahead of time, hours before it is ready to be served. To ensure food safety is adhered to, it is imperative that this hot, freshly-cooked food is cooled in a timely manner. As some of you may (or may not) know, taking cooked food to a safe temperature is a 2-step cooling process:
- The first step requires you to take food from 135°F to 70°F within 2 hours. If this doesn't happen food must be thrown away as it has already been exposed to "The Danger Zone" for a harmful period of time.
- The second step is to take the food from 70°F to 41°F or lower in the next 4 hours.
This 2-step process is an important one to adhere to in order to keep bacteria from growing and foodborne illnesses from outbreaking.
DID YOU KNOW: Microorganisms grow wildly when food is left in between the "danger zone" temperatures of 41°F and 135°F? That is why it is so important to ensure food cools down in 2 hours during the 1st step of the cooling process. If for some reason food doesn't reach the 70° mark in 2 hours, be sure to throw it out and start fresh. Remember the consequence of a foodborne illness is far worse and more damaging to your reputation. Don't risk it.
What Factors Affect Cooling Food?
The storage container: To achieve quicker cooling, try storing food in small, shallow pans 2'' -2/5'' deep, which allow the heat to disperse more quickly. Dividing up large containers of food will ensure that every square inch of your food product is achieving a quick cool down.
- Food density/thickness: Keep in mind that the more dense and thick a food may be will affect how quickly it cools; the more dense the food, the longer it takes to cool, the less dense (think broth) the less time is needed.
Which Cooling Methods Are Safe?
- Stirring food with a Cooling Paddle is an efficient way to quickly bring down temperatures of chillis, soups, stocks and more. Simply fill the paddle with ice or water and freeze it. Once frozen, submerse the paddle and stir for a quick, even cool down. We have a 64 oz and a 128 oz Ice Paddle by San Jamar available online!
- For large banquets, hospitality, healthcare and other high volume settings, a Blast Chiller is a great investment. Blast chillers do just what they say they'll do: blast cold air over food at high speeds to remove heat and bring down temperature.
- One of the easiest and most widely used tactics for cooling food is to place it in an Ice-Water Bath. Once food is divided into small containers, place it in a sink (or pot) filled with ice and water and allow it to cool down; stir as necessary.
For more food safety tips, make sure to check back for more blogs and articles, and as always, feel free to call our staff at 800-319-0690 for more information!