With the hectic lifestyles we lead, it’s always handy to stock food in the refrigerator that you can reheat and serve quickly.
A big batch of chicken can save you a lot of hassle if you cook and refrigerate it.
But can you put warm chicken in the fridge?
- Warm Chicken Holds up Well in The Fridge
- 7 Benefits of Putting Warm Chicken in The Fridge
- 1. Refrigerating Warm Chicken Increases Its Shelf-Life
- 2. Storing Warm Chicken Helps It Chill Faster
- 3. Refrigerating Warm Chicken Makes It Safer for Later Consumption
- 4. Refrigerating Warm Chicken Helps It Retain the Texture
- 5. Refrigeration Preserves the Flavors of Chicken
- 6. Refrigerating Warm Chicken Prepares It Better for Freezing
- 7. Refrigerating Warm Chicken Reduces the Chances of Contamination of Other Refrigerator Contents
Warm Chicken Holds up Well in The Fridge
Putting piping hot foods in the fridge is a strict no for two reasons.
Firstly, it forces your refrigerator to work extra hard to cool the dish.
Secondly, the food will lose some of its nutritional benefits.
The risk of spoilage increases when you transfer it directly from the stovetop to the fridge.
Other perishable foods in the fridge may also be affected by the heat from the dish you place beside them.
However, it’s safe to refrigerate freshly cooked food after it cools down a little but is still warm.
You will have to wait until your freshly cooked chicken is slightly warm and just above or at room temperature before placing it in the fridge. There are several benefits to refrigerating chicken while it’s still warm but not too hot.
Let’s find out what they are.
7 Benefits of Putting Warm Chicken in The Fridge
Chicken that has cooled down to temperatures below 35°F is warm.
Anything above this temperature is still too warm to refrigerate.
Wait until the chicken is not too hot but comfortable to handle before placing it in the fridge.
Putting warm chicken in the fridge is better than waiting till it completely cools for the following reasons.
1. Refrigerating Warm Chicken Increases Its Shelf-Life
Food experts don’t recommend consuming meat that has been left outside for too long.
Like all meat products, chicken deteriorates rapidly when left outside.
Any form of cooked meat is a breeding ground for germs like salmonella and E. coli.
These germs proliferate faster when you leave the food outside and exposed for too long.
Hence, it’s always suggested to place such foods in the refrigerator to reduce the risk of food spoilage.
You should always transfer the cooked chicken to the fridge within three hours of preparation to prevent it from becoming a breeding ground for germs.
It’s a good idea to separate the portion to be refrigerated and place it in the fridge when it’s still warm while leaving the portion to be served aside.
2. Storing Warm Chicken Helps It Chill Faster
There is a fine line between chicken that is hot and warm.
Hot chicken will make you pull your hand away when you accidentally touch it.
Meanwhile, warm chicken is easier to handle.
Warm chicken cools quickly in the fridge.
It further helps if you divide the chicken into smaller portions before refrigerating it.
If you look at the operation of a refrigerator, it’s like an air pump that sucks the heat out of the food and expels it outside.
So it has to work extra hard to reduce the temperature of food that is too hot.
Placing warm food in the fridge ensures that it cools down quickly without raising your electricity bill.
3. Refrigerating Warm Chicken Makes It Safer for Later Consumption
If it’s likely that you will have leftovers, it’s always recommended to refrigerate chicken while it’s still warm.
This will minimize the time your chicken spends in the “danger zone,” which is when it’s warm and getting cold.
Leaving it at room temperature for long compromises food safety.
It becomes a breeding ground for germs.
If you are too late to refrigerate it, the rate at which the food deteriorates increases manifold.
Hence, it will not hold up as well as if you had refrigerated it earlier.
4. Refrigerating Warm Chicken Helps It Retain the Texture
Not only does refrigeration increase the shelf-life of warm chicken, but it also helps it retain its original texture.
Leaving chicken outside for too long changes the texture of the food.
Refrigeration preserves the texture of most types of dishes, provided you choose the right type of container for storage.
By placing the chicken in an airtight container and putting it in the fridge, it doesn’t lose moisture even as it cools.
Hence, the chicken will be juicy and moist when you take it out of storage and reheat it for consumption.
5. Refrigeration Preserves the Flavors of Chicken
Apart from the safety aspect, refrigeration also helps to preserve the flavors of the dish.
The longer you leave warm chicken outside, the more it deteriorates.
The effect is more pronounced in summer and when the kitchen is too hot.
Refrigeration is the easiest way to lock the flavors in and keep the chicken tasting great.
Refrigerating warm chicken in an airtight container or Ziploc bag will lock the flavors in the dish and prevent it from losing its original taste.
Sealing it in an airtight container or bag will also prevent strong odors of spices and flavoring agents from affecting the other ingredients and dishes in the fridge.
6. Refrigerating Warm Chicken Prepares It Better for Freezing
Freezing a large batch of chicken is an excellent way to stock up on food for later use.
It makes weekday dinners a lot easier and can also come to your rescue when you are pressed for time.
You must use up chicken stored in the refrigerator within a week.
However, it can hold up for several weeks if you store it in the freezer in the recommended manner.
However, it’s not a good idea to directly put the hot or warm chicken in the freezer because it will affect the texture and flavor of the food.
Freezers drastically reduce the temperature of the food. So the chicken can end up becoming dry.
You can avoid this problem by cooling the chicken in the fridge before placing it in the freezer.
This will help the meat cool down evenly without losing any moisture.
Once it’s cool, you can transfer the container or bag to the freezer, where it will hold up for several weeks.
Always store the chicken in an airtight container or bag to seal the moisture and prevent contamination.
7. Refrigerating Warm Chicken Reduces the Chances of Contamination of Other Refrigerator Contents
Apart from cooked foods like chicken and other types of meat, you may also have various other things in your refrigerator.
There is always a risk of cross-contamination from uncooked to cooked foods that are stored together in a refrigerator.
The risk is greater when you store hot food because the fridge has to work extra hard to remove heat from the dish.
This causes condensation inside the compartment, and moisture can promote the growth of germs.
The longer food stays warm in the fridge, the more the chances of other foods in the compartment heating up to the danger zone above 40°F.
It can also cause frost build-up and affect the operation of the fridge.
Waiting till the chicken is warm and cooling it in smaller containers reduces this risk.
When the chicken cools quickly, you don’t have to worry about cross-contamination or other perishables being affected by condensation inside the fridge compartment.