Food Science, Tips

Cooking Tips: The Art of Cooling Food Right

Lemon Muffins left to cool on cake rack

Here are some handy tips on cooling food:

Always cool hot food as quickly as possible before storing in the refrigerator or freezer. This prevents the growth of harmful organisms in your food, God forbid. Cooling hot items off the right way also protects the quality and texture of the items you cook and bake.

In for a long stint of cooking? Line counters with cake racks for cooling pots and pans fresh out of the oven. These racks allow air to circulate to cool items from both above and below, speeding cooling time, hence ensuring the integrity of your food.

If you are cooking a large batch of stew or soup, cooling requires pouring the contents of your pot into a large, shallow basin, which is sitting on a cake rack on your counter. By placing hot liquid in a wide basin, you increase air surface, and this serves to speed cooling time.

Note what a really bad practice it is to leave a tall, hot stock pot full of soup out on the counter until you deem it cool enough to stick in your fridge. Not just bad, but dangerous.

If you cool a thick stew or tall pot of stock the wrong way, do not be surprised to see that the soup or stew has “turned” or “gone bad.” It may taste sour, or have white bubbles on top. It may have a smell. Or it may not show any signs that it is no longer safe, so after a sniff and a look, you decide to chance it (another bad idea).

Always cool baked goods on racks. Do not wrap and freeze baked goods until they are cool from underneath. Place your hand under the cake pan or loaf of bread that seems to be cool on top. Is the underside still slightly warm? Wait a bit, then try again.

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