how long to cool down before refrigerating?
I always wonder what others do??
In this particular instance - as my eyes are closing --- I have a 8-10 Qt pot on the stove filled with stuffed cabbage simmering away. How long, once it is finished cooking, do I need to wait before putting it in the refrigerator? On the second hand..... Considering it is 11:30pm - and I think it will be finished at around 12 - 12:30 - can it sit out till around 5 am - when DH gets up for work and he can deal with putting it in the fridge then?
It would probably be ok for that long, however the food would be in the danger zone of 40° to 140° for quite a long time. Here is what I would do, after the cooking is finished I would put the dish on a rack with a fan blowing across it. I have found the heat dissapates faster using a fan to cool a kettle of soup rather than the kettle sitting in a sink of ice water. If you have another container you can transfer the food to, I would put it in the refrigerator. Then I'd go to bed for 2 hours, get up and put the food into the now cold container and put it in the refrigerator. Or, if the original kettle is cool enough, just put it in the refrgerator.
I agree with John. If you want to speed up the cooling, you can actively cooling the pot by placing it in cool water or by fan blowing it. In addition, as long as the container is not really hot, you can probably put it in the refrigerator.
Also to assist in cooling you can put everything in a more shallow pan with more surface area.
I think you have something like 2 hours to get your food from 140 to 80 degrees, and then another 4 hours from 80 to below 40. It's been years since I took a sanitation class though, so DON'T QUOTE ME IF YOU DIE!
That being said, you could probably leave it out. It's just cabbage, right?
FINAL ANSWER: Leave it out, let yer husband put it away,