Bacteria Growth: Hot foods left out can become breeding grounds for bacteria as they pass through the temperature danger zone.
Temperature Danger Zone: As per the USDA, this is between 40°F and 140°F (4°C and 60°C), where bacteria can double in number in as little as 20 minutes.
Remember the 2-Hour Rule:
Timely Refrigeration: Hot leftovers shouldn’t sit out for more than two hours to prevent bacterial growth.
Cooling Techniques Matter:
Shallow Containers: Use them for quick cooling.
Refrigerator Space: Don’t crowd the fridge; allow for air circulation to cool evenly and efficiently.
When it’s time for round two, reheat your food to an internal temperature of 165°F (74°C) to eliminate any bacteria that may have shown up to the party.
Keep These Tips in Hand:
Hand Hygiene: Wash those hands before and after handling food.
Clean Kitchen: Keep your surfaces and utensils clean to avoid cross-contamination.
Cross-Contamination: Be vigilant about keeping raw and cooked foods—and their juices—separate.
So, next time you’re staring down a pot of just-cooked stew, remember that a little patience in cooling it down can ensure your leftovers remain a delicious and safe treat for the days to follow. Use that 2-hour window as your guide, and you’ll be all set to enjoy your culinary creations with peace of mind. Happy (and safe) eating!
Credit: Home Remedies Easy