eli5 why do we have to cool food before putting it in the refrigerator?

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eli5 why do we have to cool food before putting it in the refrigerator?

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This is (sort of) a myth in the sense it has to be done to safely store food. Personally, I believe it stems from the food industry. Nothing should be in a cooler without a lid, and it is unsafe to put a lid on hot food before it cools as it will keep the item in the temperature “danger zone” (the temperature range most suitable for bacterial growth) longer.

Edit: IF you’re cooking a large portion of really high temp food it can temporarily raise the temperature of your refrigerator. In this case I’d leave it out to cool to room temp first.

Because, if the temp is too high and stays too high for too long it is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria. Refrigerators tend to stay at a constant state of degrees of temperature, somewhere between 35ish-45ish degrees Fahrenheit, give or take a few degrees on either end. This means if food that is around 80-140 degrees Fahrenheit goes in the fridge and stays there for longer than 3/5 hours, at that same temp-i.e., it stays and does not cool down it may grow bacterium levels that could be highly problematic and potentially dangerous for human consumption.

In older refrigerators it would cause a lot of ice build up due to the steam of hot food hitting the cold walls of the refrigerators.

In modern ones depending on the cooling technology used it’ll cause them to temporarily raise the temperature and consume more power or even affect other products in the fridge which in turn will go bad, think of fresh salad or fruits for example.

You don’t.

You’re supposed to put the food in as small containers as possible and then put them in the fridge. The smaller containers will help with heat loss and thus will cool quicker.

If you leave food out to cool first then you’re risking food poisoning. Food should be cooled as fast as possible and that’s going to be in the fridge.

It takes energy for the fridge to reduce the temperature of an item. If you let an item cool down to room temperature before putting it in the fridge, then the fridge doesn’t have to use as much electricity. That being said, you don’t *have* to let it cool down first, but it will reduce your electricity bill if you do.