Holiday entertaining can be stressful because there is so much to think about – how many guests will there be? What should you serve? Does anyone have allergies? But while you’re cooking up a variety of delicious options, a very important detail might slip your mind: do you have enough space in your fridge to store everything? If you haven’t had any food quality training, you might think you can get away with storing food outside, or in a colder area of your house – however if you’re not religiously monitoring the temperature of those items, they could get contaminated! Continue reading to find out more about how you should and should not be storing food items.
The Grey Area of Outdoor Refrigeration
If you live in an area that boasts a colder climate (like Canada) you might be tempted to store some of your festive treats outdoors when you run out of fridge space – and when you consider just how cold it is outside during the winter months, this seems like a logical plan. However, someone with HACCP certification might disagree with your reasoning. Storing food outdoors is risky business and if you intend to do so, you’ll need to be extremely cautious.
The last thing anyone wants – especially during the holidays – is to get stuck treating a food-borne illness caused by carelessly stored items. If you’ve had food safety training, you know that perishable food items must be stored at a temperature of 40 degrees F or below – anything higher and you’re entering risky territory for bacteria growth. So yes, if you can ensure that the food you keep outside won’t rise above 40 degrees F, then it’ll be fine for consumption. One thing you should keep in mind is that unlike refrigerators, outdoor temperatures tend to rise and fall, so if you’re not out there with your thermometer overnight, you can never be certain that your food’s temperature hasn’t changed.
Keep Food Away From the Garage
Storing perishable food items in a garage really does have “bad idea” written all over it. This is an area where you’re keeping your cars, power tools, lawn mowers, snow blowers, and much more (unsanitary) outdoor equipment. So, if munching on snacks that have been contaminated by a mystery fume cocktail doesn’t really appeal to you, it’s best to steer clear of garage refrigeration – your stomach and your holiday guests will thank you!
A Few Simple Solutions
Your guests will likely bring beverages and prepared food items to your holiday party – and if you’ve already used up all your fridge space to store everything that you’ve made, you’ll likely be looking for other “cold” places to keep that food until it’s time to be served. Instead of turning to the mysterious outdoors or your fume-ridden garage, try these simple solutions:
- Use storage containers so you can easily stack items in your fridge and create more space
- Only store food outdoors if it is in a large cooler filled with ice, and is being monitored regularly for temperature changes
- Ask your guests to let you know if they’ll be brining anything so that you can plan accordingly
- Make more room for perishables in your fridge by chilling beverages outdoors – juice bottles and cans tend to take up a lot of fridge space
Have a safe and happy holiday season!
Where do you normally store extra food items when you’re left with no fridge space?