The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


June 27, 2012

Cheryle Finley: Food temperatures important during summer

JOPLIN, Mo. — Keep hot food hot and cold food cold. That’s the best advice for the upcoming Fourth of July celebrations, or for just everyday get-togethers.

Not only does the correct temperature help the taste of the food, it ensures that you, your family and guests are safe. Food served at the wrong temperature can put a damper on a celebration faster than anything.

Don’t leave perishable food, such as potato salad, out longer than one hour if the temperature is hotter than 90 degrees. Two hours would be OK if it’s cooler, but chances are it will be even hotter than 90 degrees in the upcoming weeks.

If you’re traveling with cold food, or if you just don’t have enough room in the fridge, place it in a plastic container or plastic bag and seal it tightly. Wrap the food in foil, put it in a cooler, then top with ice. This will keep food cooler than placing it on top of the ice.

When served, the cold food should be kept at a maximum of 40 degrees. Ice surrounding a small bowl inside a larger bowl will make sure your potato salad stays cool.

Hot food should be kept at 140 degrees or hotter. If it’s ready before you are, wrap it in foil and a dish towel for insulation before placing it in a cooler Ñ no, not the cooler with the cold food, but it can be the same kind because they are made for either extreme.

Your slow cooker will keep those baked beans hot and ready. I also use mine to warm hamburger and hot dog buns by sealing the bread in foil and heating on low. It’s also good for keeping burgers and dogs warm.

Check out your local grocery store for hot or cool packs that can be heated in the microwave or frozen in the freezer. These are great for keeping your food at the right temperature. No matter what you serve, be food safe this summer.

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