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Is it OK to Put Hot Food Directly Into the Fridge?

Question: Can I put hot food in the refrigerator?

Answer: It’s fine to place hot food directly in the refrigerator.

Don’t worry about overheating the fridge — as the U.S. Department of Agriculture points out, the refrigerator’s thermostat will keep it running to maintain a safe temperature of 40° F or below.

What you do need to worry about is whether the hot food will cool off quickly enough to reach a safe temperature once it’s in the refrigerator. So never put deep containers of hot food in the refrigerator instead, place the hot food in shallow containers so it will chill quickly.

A large pot of soup or stew, for instance, should be divided into smaller portions and placed in smaller containers before being refrigerated. A large cut of meat or whole poultry should be divided into smaller pieces and wrapped separately or placed in shallow containers before refrigerating.

If you prefer, you can also quick-chill the food in an ice water bath before refrigerating it.

Either way, be sure you refrigerate the food within 2 hours of cooking it.


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