I made soup today and I want to freeze it. When do I transfer from hot pan to cool container to cold freezer? Let it come to room temp and then freeze? Freeze right away? This is a starve a cold/feed a fever thing for me. I can never remember which is right, and I can't bear to look it up in McGee. Thanks!

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anyone October 24, 2010
For a good look at what I was talking about in my last post on cooling soup.

anyone October 24, 2010
As long as were still talking about cooling soup-and there are a lot of great ideas here but one that I haven't seen anybody post yet is cool stix. Which are used commercially. Basically they are a bottle shaped in a long cylinder fashion that you fill with water and keep in the freezer and put directly into hot liquid while it is in an ice bath. This can help cool a 5gal batch pretty quickly. You can get them at some of the restuarant supply houses or you can use plastic water or soda bottles. Just sanitize, fill with water with water and cap it, wrap it with plastic (to keep sanitary) and pull it out when needed and unwrap put in soup to cool.
foodfighter October 24, 2010
If you are making soup, you can reserve some of the stock called for in the recipe. Then you can freeze the reserved stock in ice cube trays. When the soup is done you can put these ice cubes in the soup to help cool quicker. Also, if you put it in a container in an ice bath. Stirring the ice bath will cool it quicker, a la convection ice bath.
drbabs October 23, 2010
My (former) mother-in-law used to leave chicken soup on the stove for days. When I took microbiology, we used chicken broth to grow bacteria, so this made me crazy. According to the USDA, "Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 and 140 °F, some doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. Some types will produce toxins that are not destroyed by cooking. Hot food can be placed directly in the refrigerator or it can be rapidly chilled in an ice or cold water bath before refrigerating. A large pot of food like soup or stew should be divided into small portions and put in shallow containers before being refrigerated. "

PaviaNYC October 23, 2010
Thanks, everyone, for helpful answers that even the health department would approve.
anyone October 22, 2010
As I read some of these responses it just seems that the point really to be made here is food safety. You have a four hour window between the temps of 40F -140F known as the danger zone where bacteria can and will start to develop. We should be less focused on the food in the freezer and how quick the food freezes and worry more about the time the soup is in the danger zone right?
Mr_Vittles October 22, 2010
Before putting your soup in the freezer you want to get it as cold as possible, one so it freezing faster and two so it won't heat up other items in your freezer. If you want to super charge the soup's cool down time do this: fill your sink with half water and half ice, then dump in 1/4 cup salt and stir, this will lower the water temperature below freezing, then place your soup pot in the sink and stir it constantly for 10 to 15 minutes, if the water begins to warm up add more ice or run the cold tap. This is the best way to cool soups down for freezing.
anyone October 22, 2010
To me the main concern is getting the soup or food down to 40F with in 4 hrs and not trap heat in the container that your are freezing in. Once you put a lid on a container it becomes insulated. Also, when dividing soups, sauces, liquids and even house paint there is a method called "boxing" where you set your smaller containers nearby and give each an equel "scoop" or "poor" one at a time so that each container ends up with a consistant amount of stock and garnish making all consistant with the original batch. I'm sure you already know this but I just had to say it. You would be surprised how many times I would have to teach this to emloyees. Enjoy!
Kayb October 22, 2010
I let everything cool to room temp before refrigerating and/or freezing; otherwise, you get condensation inside your container, and that can play havoc with the contents.
gigiaxline October 22, 2010
...and don't forget to not fill it up way to the top - leave some head room since liquids will expand in the freezer.
pierino October 22, 2010
ChezSuzanne is correct (if you happen to be the county health inspector): hot foods need to be held at 140 or higher and cold foods at 40 or below. But don't tell that to your local Chinese restaurant where they constantly get dinged on this stuff.
TheWimpyVegetarian October 22, 2010
Nutcakes is right - cool it down first, and as quickly as possible in the interest of food safety. I put the soup in the container that will go into the freezer; fill a small sink (or large bowl) with ice cubes; sprinkle salt on the ice cubes; and add water to the ice. I stir the soup occasionally. This cools the soup pretty quickly. You want to limit the amount of time any food is in the temperature range of 40F and 140F as this is the temperature range where bacteria grows fastest.
nutcakes October 22, 2010
Always cool food down before putting in the fridge or freezer. You don't want the ht soup to warm up the contents of your freezer. Not safe. And for safety it is best too cool soup quickly, put it in multiple small containers, or put the pot in a sind of cold water.
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