Cooling and Drying
For Foods Cooked Hot, and Served Cold
Foods that are cooked hot but served cold should be cooled and dried completely before they are added to a recipe. This is most common in foods for salads like potatoes, pastas, and grains. It is also commonly used in preparing potatoes and other veg for mashing and pureeing. It can, though, be done with any food, including cooked vegetables, nuts, fruits, and even meats.
This process is important for several reasons:
- The heat from cooked foods could melt, or similarly change the texture of, the other ingredients.
- The increased temperature could bring the other ingredients into the danger zone. In this temperature range (between 41-140˚F) bacteria thrive and grow. When the environment contains moist protein, like meat or eggs, there is a serious danger of food bourn illness.
- Cooling and drying make the ingredients easier to work with and better to eat. Less moisture makes grains and potatoes loose and fluffy, not gummy and sticky.
Cooling and drying must be done on a large surface. If the food is piled up on itself, the steam cannot escape. Thin layers spread onto a baking sheet is the best method. Rushing this process in the fridge is not recommended. The fridge is moist inside, and so the product will not dry sufficiently. Also, the warmth of the food on the pan can increase the temperature of the fridge, adversely affecting the food stored within, and raising the temperature to a dangerous level.