We would argue barbecue food is one of the best on earth, and let’s be real, it’s pretty amazing the next day too! To make sure it’s just as good the very next day, or a couple of days later, it’s important to ensure it’s packaged away and stored correctly. So how do we do that exactly?
Check your fridge:
First things first, when was the last time you looked at what temperature your fridge is running at? Food Safety Guidelines indicate an operating temperature of 50C or less is safe for food storage, which if you are able to, check with a thermometer to ensure your fridge is reading accurately.
It’s also important to remember when placing food in your fridge, keep raw and cooked food separate. If possible, keep cooked food stored above raw food to prevent the risk of any contamination of your cooked foods through raw meat juices dripping onto it.
Check your containers:
The next piece of the puzzle when storing food safely is to ensure your storage containers are in adequate condition. It’s best practice to have dedicated containers for food storage, always ensuring they’re clean before placing either raw or cooked food into them.
Then make sure you have lids which fit each container tightly with a good seal. Alternatively, using foil or plastic wrap can be perfectly safe if wrapped tightly to minimise contamination risks.
After you’ve enjoyed an incredibly tasty barbecued meal, it’s now time to store your leftovers to enjoy later. It’s important to note that food doesn’t become unsafe immediately. Generally, it will be ok for up to four hours when it’s in the temperature ‘danger zone’. This zone is when bacteria has the best chance of growing on your food; which is why it’s important to minimise the time the food is in this range. The danger zone when bacteria can grow easily is between 50C and 600C.
If your food is still fairly hot, place it in several smaller portions over several containers to help it cool at a faster rate. Otherwise, package it up, and place it straight in the fridge!
Note: Never put really hot food straight into your fridge. A good indicator is once the steam has stopped rising, the food is cool enough to then store in your fridge. Not allowing food to cool enough before storing it, risks damaging your fridge.
Always wash your hands before and after handling cooked food. Ensure you dry your hands thoroughly as well as bacteria can potentially get transferred in any moisture that remains on your hands.