Cooking at home requires a basic understanding of food safety. Ensuring food is safe and fresh can protect you from illness or contamination. Here’s what you can do to make your food safe.
At the core of all food safety is the idea of “the danger zone”. This temperature range is where microbes like to grow, especially on food. These microbes such as molds and bacterias will make you sick if ingested. This range is between 40°F and 140°F. Placing food in environments where they are either colder than 40°F or hotter than 140°F is ideal. Always keep your fridge colder than 40°F or cook your meats at least 140°F. If you are unable to keep your food in this range for more than two hours, it’s advised to toss it out.
One easy way to ensure food is safely thawed is by moving it from the freezer to the fridge. However, this takes a while and if you’re short on time there are other methods to thaw food quickly. Put your food in a bowl of cold water. As long as it’s in a leak-proof container, this method will generally thaw meat in about 30 minutes to an hour. Just be sure to swap out the water every half hour. The larger the foods the longer it will take to thaw this way. You can also cook some meat directly from frozen. Chicken breast and frozen fish filets will only need a longer cook time. It’s important to note only some meats work with this method so it’s best to do some research beforehand.
As previously mentioned, when cooking you’ll want to surpass the danger zone of meat to ensure bacteria is safely destroyed. While this list doesn’t encompass every type of meat, here are some general guidelines. These are all internal temperatures, so it’s a good idea to invest in an instant-read thermometer.
- 145°F for fish and whole cuts of beef, pork, veal or lamb.
- 160°F for ground meat including beef, lamb and park
- 165°F for any kind of poultry including chicken, turkey and duck
- 165°F is also the temperature any leftovers should be heated to
If you need to cool down hot food quickly, a cold-water bath is your friend. Place your food in sealed, airtight containers and place in cold or ice water. This should cool it in a few minutes. You should never place hot food directly into your fridge as this may warm up everything else around it, thus spoiling other foods.
Source: The Kitchn