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How do you cool down stews?

I usually make a large pot of stew so that it lasts a few days. Before putting the finished stew into the fridge, however, I usually wait a few hours for it to cool down to a temperature that is low enough that it won't wreck havoc with the fridge (I'm more concerned about the other items in the fridge than overworking the compressor). Given the problems with leaving food at room temp, what are some ways to speed up the cooling down period?

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  1. The only thing that comes to mind is dividing it up into smaller containers which will cool to room temp more quickly than one humongous pot.

    1. You can fill the sink with ice water and set the pot in it, being careful to keep the water level below the lid. Stir occasionally. Soon the stew and the pot will be cool enough to put into the refrigerator.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Joebob

        That's what I do and what I was going to suggest..I use if for de-greasing, as well. An engineer friend has improved on it but making a copper pipe jacket for his stew pot and he runs water through it--stir the ingredients regularly using wither methid otherwise the outer edge will be cooled but ti will take years before the heat transfers from the center.

        1. re: Joebob

          Should you worry about thermal shock in either ceramic or cast iron pots?

          1. re: Joebob

            I set my pot of stew into the sink with ice water today and it worked great. Thanks for the tip!

            1. re: Joebob

              This is one of the few things that I use my second smaller bowl for in my double bowl sink

            2. I have this nice wide pasta bowl, and that's exactly what I do. Cool water with ice.

              1. If the stew is at the boiling point and covered so that the entire interior of the covered pot is that hot, it will be sterile, and cooling at room temperature for a few hours will be quite safe. Dividing into smaller containers to cool it faster is also good. Leaving it out overnight is not good.

                1 Reply
                1. re: therealdoctorlew

                  I always leave it to cool for a few hours just on the stove with the heat off. Haven't been poisoned yet!

                2. The two rules I learned long ago in culinary school were to

                  break the mass (divide into smaller containers), and

                  use an ice bath.