Why can’t you put warm food in the fridge?

In this brief guide, we will answer the question “Why can’t you put warm food in the fridge?”, and tell you how to quickly cool down food. We will also list down foods that do not need refrigeration so that you can save space in your fridge.

Why can’t you put warm food in the fridge?

You can not put warm food in the fridge due to the following reasons.

  • Food will take much longer to cool down when placed warm inside the refrigerator. This time period will allow bacteria to grow on it.
  • Warm food will cause temperature fluctuations in the fridge. The fridge will have to work a lot harder to maintain one temperature. Temperature fluctuations will also lead to spoilage of other food products in the fridge.
  • The steam coming off of warm food will lead to condensation. These liquid droplets can form ice on the walls of the fridge and freeze any food that comes in contact with it.
  • Excess moisture from condensation can also lead to spoilage of food items present in the fridge.

How long should food be left out before putting it in the fridge?

Cooked food should be left out for no more than 2 hours to allow it to come back to room temperature. If left out for more than 2 hours, bacteria will start to grow on it. This bacteria can lead to food poisoning. 

So it is important to ensure that food is cooled down within 2 hours.

How to quickly cool down food?

Well, you could leave the food out on the counter top in a sanitized place for it to cool down. However, if you have cooked large portions of food and think that it will take longer than two hours to cool, then try one of the following methods.

  • Divide the food in multiple shallow bowls or containers. This way the food will cool faster.
  • Place the food inside stainless steel containers instead of plastic containers. Stainless steel is a better conductor of heat as compared to plastic.
  • Place the food in a container and place that container in an ice bath. This way an ice bath will help the food in cooling down.

Find out what happens if you eat spoiled food here.

What food can be left out at room temperature?

Since overcrowding can lead to temperature fluctuations in the fridge, we will list down some foods that do not have to be refrigerated. In this way, you can save space in your fridge and avoid food spoilage.

  • Tomatoes: Tomatoes retain their moisture when kept outside the fridge in a cool, dry place.
  • Bananas: Bananas should be kept out so that they stay fresh with plastic wrap wrapped on their stems.
  • Citrus fruits: Oranges, lemons and all citrus fruits will stay fresh when kept out of the fridge in a cool, dry place.
  • Hot sauce: Hot sauce can be kept in the pantry when unopened. It can also be kept in a cool, dry place once opened. However, check the label to see if it can be kept unrefrigerated as every brand differs.
  • Butter: Dairy products are perishable which is why it comes as a surprise when we find out that butter can be kept on the countertop. However it should be placed in an airtight container.
  • Cake: Cake sponge can also be kept out at room temperature for at least three days. It should not have any frosting on it though.
  • Bread: A lot of people tend to refrigerate their bread which is okay but sometimes the texture may become off. Bread can be stored in a cool, dry place when you will be consuming it in a few days.
  • Fresh basil: Fresh basil should be kept in a jar filled with water so that it stays fresh for long.
  • Coffee: Coffee should be stored at room temperature for best taste.
  • Soy sauce: Soy sauce can also be kept at room temperature with no risk of spoilage.
  • Pickles: Pickles can be kept outside the fridge. They are already kept in salt water which prevents them from getting spoiled.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “Why can’t you put warm food in the fridge?”, and told you how to quickly cool down food. We also listed down foods that do not need refrigeration so that you can save space in your fridge.

Citations

https://www.bosch-home.co.uk/stories/tips-and-tricks/can-you-put-hot-food-in-the-fridge
https://www.eatthis.com/non-fridge-foods/

Hi, I am Charlotte, I love cooking and in my previous life, I was a chef. I bring some of my experience to the recipes on this hub and answer your food questions.