Using a calibrated thermometer, take random temperatures of food stored in the refrigerator and freezer. A hanging thermometer should be placed in the back of the refrigerator and freezer and be easily checked.
The temperature of the freezer should be 0 degrees. Frozen storage temperature should keep frozen foods frozen.. Discard product if the expiration or use by date has passed and don’t forget “FIFO” first in first out. Use a black magic marker and mark all refrigerated and frozen food packages with the purchase date.
To reduce the risk of cross-contamination never store cooked or ready to eat food below raw food. Use a red magic marker to write the expiration date.
Shelve new supplies based on the use by or expiration date. Use the oldest items first. Discard food that has passed the expiration date. Do not try to cool off hot foods in your refrigerator or freezer. It will lower the temperature of your refrigerator and increase the risk of contamination.
Always thaw frozen items in the refrigerator. Never thaw frozen items out on the counter at room temperature to thaw. It allows bacteria to grow. If in an emergency you need to thaw frozen items quickly place in a clean sink. Run a constant cold water stream over the item to be thawed. Do not allow the item to be immersed in water. If you use a microwave to thaw frozen items you need to thaw it and then cook it right away.
Next month we will discuss properly cooling and storing of left-overs.
– Chef Bill