Can I Put Hot Food Directly into the Refrigerator or Freezer

You should not put hot food directly into the refrigerator or freezer. Still, some references can make you believe that you can put hot food into the fridge or freezer. When it comes to food, you should not take any risks.

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Foods can easily get contaminated with bacteria if left outside for too long. This might be one of the reasons for putting your hot food into the refrigerator, but don’t get carried away. Another reason could be to store the leftover food inside the fridge, which you might forget to store after some time.

There are many reasons which you need to consider before storing hot food inside a refrigerator. In this article, I will discuss this topic further, and hopefully, that answers all of your questions. 

Can I Put Hot Food Directly into the Freezer?

No, you cannot put hot food directly into the freezer. Either you are among those who pack their leftovers after the meal and keep them in the freezer or let the leftovers rest until they are cooled down perfectly.

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You might be wondering if it is safe to store food inside the freezer since a freezer has a very low temperature, and heat will not cause an issue. But placing hot food can put unnecessary pressure on your freezer.

Don’t get me wrong since there is nothing wrong with storing hot food but the damage that you are doing to your freezer. Putting your food inside the freezer might make sense since letting it sit outside at room temperature will allow the bacteria to take over your food.

A freezer has a relatively low temperature possible among the cooling appliances. The freezer has a better way of keeping the air inside the freezer. A refrigerator or fridge cannot hold the temperature for much longer because the device is opened and closed multiple times a day.

This allows the air to escape and takes time for the air to build up inside the refrigerator. Although the difference is slight when storing hot food, both the fridge and freezer can take significant damage.

Refrigerating hot food will increase the temperature inside the refrigerator, increasing the load on the fridge or freezer. The compressor needs to work faster and will consume more energy. Don’t be surprised if you find your refrigerator or freezer shutting down frequently.

What Happens If you Put Warm Food in the Refrigerator?

If you like to store hot food inside the refrigerator, you might not want to do that next time. Food and liquids should not be stored hot. Foods are refrigerated to keep them fresh, healthy, nutritional, and away from bacteria.

When food is stored hot, it may lose its nutrition and will force your refrigerator to work harder. But it is okay to store mild-warm food as they are close to room temperature and will not heat your refrigerator. It is even better to let the food cool down to room temperature before storing it inside the refrigerator.

A recent study discovered that food that has been stored hot has higher chances of growing a certain type of bacteria called Salmonella bacteria. Since foods are stored in the refrigerator, they are the same as any bacteria. Still, Salmonella bacteria can make your food bad, even in a refrigerator.

By putting hot food inside the refrigerator, you also impact other foods inside the refrigerator, like eggs and vegetables. How foods should not be kept outside the refrigerator for more than 2 hours as it increases the spread of bacteria inside your food. 

How Soon Can you Freeze Food After Cooking?

You can stash food in your refrigerator when it reaches room temperature. Ideally, it is best to store foods within 2 hours inside the freezer since this is the amount of time your food can stay fresh without any bacteria contamination.

Generally, food and liquids don’t need 2 hours to cool down if you follow some basic steps. To be safe, it is best to refrigerate food before 2 hours of the food being prepared because after 2 hours mark; food should not be considered edible. Food temperature between 40 and 135 degrees F has the highest possible rate of being infected with bacteria. 

Stashing hot food inside your freezer will raise your freezer’s temperature, which is dangerous for your freezer. But that doesn’t mean you cannot store hot foods inside the freezer. You might consider storing foods inside your freezer if you like me, who hates going to the market 3-4 times a week.

You can always put semi-warm foods inside the freezer as it poses no threat to your freezer. Your freezer can bear a small amount of heat, and the food will cool down quickly. And it is always easier to let the food sit outside to cool down properly. To do so, below are some great ways to help you cool down your food faster.

Dividing your food

The best way to cool down large batches of hot food is by dividing them. Since the food is hardly packed together, it can let off the heat faster. Use containers to divide your food and let it rest at room temperature.

Use small and shallow containers as they are more suitable for this task. It will help you store hot foods inside the freezer as the containers will cool down easily. 

Do not put hot foods into a plastic bag. Hot foods can melt off the plastic bags and this can be a big problem for you. Instead, if you want to store foods in plastic bags, do that once the food has been cooled down. 

An ice bath

The fastest way to cool down your food is by giving it an ice bath. Use a large container that is bigger than the size of your containers.

Fill in some tap water or cold water and let your food container rest in that water for a few minutes. The tap water will warm up, and you might need to replace the water a few times. To use this technique to its fullest, you can use cold water and put ice cubes in the water.

Within a few minutes, you will notice your food has cooled off quite a lot. The method will also work on liquid foods. So give it a try for yourself. 

Using a cooler

I would not recommend this personally because you will need to have a cooler at your house in this step. Place your food inside a cooler packed with ice, and the temperature will fall drastically. 

FAQs: Related Asked Question

Q. Can I leave hot soup out overnight to cool?

Unfortunately, you cannot leave your hot soup out overnight to cool down. Bacteria have taken over food that has been out for more than 2 hours. Freezing bacteria-contaminated food will not save it from bacteria, and eating that food will eventually make you sick. If you have already left your hot soup out to cool down, your only option is to throw it away. 

Q. Can I put a warm chicken in the fridge?

You can put a warm chicken in the fridge, but consider how warm you are talking about. Hot food can cause severe damage to your fridge. Ensure the chicken is not too warm, or let it rest at room temperature for a few minutes to cool down before putting it in the fridge. 

Conclusion

Food can be stored hot as long as it is not piping hot. The more hot your food is, the more pressure it will create for your refrigerator. Foods that are close to room temperature can be stored without any problem. But don’t leave your food out in the open for too long since, after the 2 hours mark, the bacteria will take your food over. Store food as soon as it cools down. It will ensure that both you and your food are safe.