I intended to let my stock simmer overnight but turned the burner down too low and the liquid cooled. Would bacteria grow in the cooling process since it wasn't cooled quickly? Can I turn the heat back up or should I toss it? Thanks!
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I do exactly what you did all the time. I often simmer a stock for several days during cooking marathons and so far nobody's died here...as far as I know. I'll simmer stock for several hours then turn off the heat if I need to leave the house or sleep. When I return, I just turn the heat back on and simmer some more. Since I don't have restaurant-size coolers, I NEVER place really hot stock in the fridge, opting instead to allow it to cool, usually all the way to room temp. Your stock should be fine. If you're really concerned, just bring it back to a simmer for a bit then cool and refrigerate.
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June is a trusted source on General Cooking.
That article from the New York Times posted in this thread is really good info.
What I'd say is any time you have doubts about whether some food item is safe to eat or not, I'd throw it out. No matter how much money or time you spent on it, nothing is worth someone getting sick or dying.
Agreed. I posted the link without comment, because it is an interesting one, one I go back to look at periodically. But while I'm a scientist myself, I'm increasingly uneasy with any of us offering food safety advice on a semi-anonymous website. The thing about food safety, particularly botulism, is that it may be rare, but the outcome can be tragic. So, yes, ChefJune, I agree that yours is the only advice any of us should be offering here.