A+J Unsolicited Advice: Is it ok to put hot food in the fridge?

How many times have you heard someone say “…don’t put that hot food in the fridge until it cools down” I have heard it for as long as I can remember but never really asked why. I just know that since I had been told not to do it I never have. But since it came to me the other day I thought, let me do some research. From what I found, back in the day people were told not to put hot food in the fridge because of the three things;

  1. The hot food could heat up the fridge, putting the internal temp over 40 degrees Fahrenheit and placing everything else in there at risk for bacterial growth;
  2. Potentially shatter a glass shelf if the temperature of the hot container is too hot;
  3. Make the food soggy if cooling uncovered before being refrigerated.

All of these things today however are not true. It is perfectly fine to put hot food in the fridge as has been noted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It is recommended however that large amounts of food be divided into smaller portions and put into shallow containers for quicker cooling in the refrigerator. Perishable items should be put in a fridge that is 40 degrees or below within 2 hours or preparation. If the food has been left out longer than 2 hours throw it away because bacteria can grow rapidly on food left at room temperature for more than 2 hours. On the other hand if food is left our in a room or outdoors that is 90 degrees or more than food should be refrigerated in and hour or thrown away. 

So the next time someone tells you “let the food cool before you put it in the fridge” you can reply in kind and tell them actually you can because times have changed and explain why!


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