Do I have to rapidly chill meat before placing in the fridge?

Asked by John on Saturday, January 08
I cooked a 4lb sirloin roast for 20 hours and have some leftovers. Can I place them directly in the refrigerator for eating later, or must I rapidly chill in an ice bath before refrigerating? Thanks

8 Answers to This Question

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The answer to the question depends on if the food is still in the bag or not. If the food is being kept under vacuum in the bag then it needs to be chilled in an ice bath to prevent anaerobic bacteria from multiplying to dangerous levels. If the food is out of the bag then it is normal leftovers and can be treated as such.
Answered by Other Jason on Saturday, January 15
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I think if they are just leftovers then placing them directly into the fridge would be fine. If you were planning on using the whole roast later after cooking it sous vide you would want to chill it in the ice bath first but for leftovers I'd assume it's fine just like it is if you cooked it any other method. <br /> <br />That's at least what I always do with my sous vide leftovers but someone more up on the actual bacterial specifics might know differently.
Answered by Jason Logsdon on Saturday, January 08
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Then why don't I have to rapidly chill the leftover steak I cooked for 15 minutes on the grill to medium rare before putting in the fridge? <br /> <br />I know Baldwin says to rapidly chill, but why? Both my sous vide steak and grilled steak are cooked to the same internal temp.
Answered by John on Saturday, January 15
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I did some more research on sous vide leftovers and the main consideration is whether or not it's still in the bag. The danger with sous vide food being held in the danger zone is that the bag creates and anaerobic environment where the bacteria can thrive. <br /> <br />Once you take the food out of the bag it removes this environment and any sous vide specific safety concerns. You then just have to worry about normal food safety with leftovers. <br /> <br />I hope this helps with the question about sous vide leftovers.
Answered by Jason Logsdon on Tuesday, January 18
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Not only must you place it in an ice bath, you must do so very shortly after you complete the cooking process. While I am certainly no pathogen expert, I have to lean on the most regarded expert on this topic. In the sous vide saftey works of Douglas Baldwin, he makes the distinction that while Sous Vide cooking often pasteurizes food, it generally does not sterilize it. As such, the active bacteria has been safely killed for near immediate consumption, though there might be some spores that are able to grow if not immediately chilled. Specifically, even after pasteurization, spores of Clostridium botulinum, C. perfringens and B. cereus can all survive such a mild heat treatment. If not swiftly chilled, those spores are able to grow - even in the near absence of oxygen.
Answered by Nick on Wednesday, January 12
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John, that's my feeling as well. If you're specifically cooking it to eat later (and you plan to sear it later as opposed to now) then you will want to quick chill it in an ice-bath. But if you've already seared it etc, I don't think they are any different from normal leftovers. I could be wrong but I've been fine treating them that way for several years now. I guess for true safety safe we should probably quick-chill all leftovers, no matter how they are cooked. :-)
Answered by Jason Logsdon on Saturday, January 15
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I see several factors involved in the decision as to whether to ice down food from a water bath going into a refrigerator. Be aware that sous vide food is a food preservation method as well as a cooking/tenderization method. Food cannot be left at room temperature in the sealed bags, but food keeps fresh longer in the refrigerator meaning the flavors of sous vide cooked meats tomorrow are better if the contents are very low in bacteria today. <br /> <br />First, if preparing ahead for refrigerator storage, don't attempt this with seafood/fish. Seafood must be as fresh as possible, and no pasteurization can take place without overcooking seafood. This method is most effective when every attempt is made to prevent bacterial growth. For best storage properties, do pre-sear. For food to be consumed today, this is less important. This aids in the pasteurization. Also, higher temperatures and longer cooking times are aids to pasteurization. This means fillet mignon cooked for two hours at 131 F is not as good a candidate for refrigerator storage as round steak cooked for 24 hours at the same temperature or white meat chicken cooked at 140 F or dark meat chicken cooked at 156 F for the same time. <br /> <br />Whenever the factors are not perfect for pasteurization, additional techniques for keeping bacterial counts down become important. Chilling in an ice bath is just one useful tool; salt and spices are also useful. Also, if the meat has been unsealed, consider re-sealing it and putting it back in the water bath for additional pasteurization. Remember, then, that transitional temperatures promote bacterial growth, so don't cook for only one hour--heat it longer.
Answered by Leigh Jones on Monday, June 17
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Mystery solved. Thanks for all the help!
Answered by John on Tuesday, January 18
You can also find a lot of sous vide information, as well as over 100 recipes, in our book Beginning Sous Vide which you can get at or as a pdf download.

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