After a busy holiday meal, you’re probably anxious to get everything cleaned up and put away as quickly as possible. But when it comes to cooling and storing cooked foods, it’s important to do so in a way that will keep food safe to eat.

It’s never a good idea to put hot food directly into your refrigerator because it will warm up all the other food that’s in there – and that can jeopardize the safety of all the food in your fridge.

Store Leftovers Safely & Easily

To safely cool hot foods before storing in the fridge, follow these tips:

  • Place container on a cooling rack on your kitchen counter and remove the lid.
  • Allow food to sit at room temperature for about 15 – 20 minutes to get some of the heat out.
  • Once container feels cool to the touch, wrap it with plastic wrap and use a small knife to poke a few holes in the plastic wrap to allow remaining heat to escape.
  • If you have pots of hot liquid, such as soup, place the pot into an ice bath and stir the contents for about 5 minutes to cool down.
  • One way to cool foods faster is to remove the food from the large container it was cooked or heated in and place contents into smaller containers.
  • When food is cool to the touch, put in the refrigerator so it can continue to cool down.

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Date Last Reviewed: September 21, 2017

Editorial Review: Andrea Cohen, Editorial Director, Baldwin Publishing, Inc. Contact Editor

Medical Review: Mike McCombe; Chef, Certified Food Safety Educator

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