If you have cooked pasta recently and you want to put a portion in the fridge, you might be wondering whether it’s okay to put it in while it’s still hot, or if you need to find a way to cool the pasta down before you put it in the fridge. Sometimes, waiting for food to chill is frustratingly slow.
Can you put warm pasta in the fridge? Yes, you can put warm pasta in the fridge without much concern. In general, it’s best to cool food before you put it in the fridge, but you don’t have to do this with your pasta if you are only putting a small quantity of lukewarm pasta in the fridge, as the heat is unlikely to make much difference to the overall temperature in there.
Why is it Okay to Occasionally Put Warm Pasta in the Fridge?
It shouldn’t really be a problem to add a small quantity of warm pasta to the fridge occasionally. It is very unlikely to significantly raise the temperature of the food in the fridge, and that means there’s no real issue with doing it.
A small bowl of slightly warm pasta will not make much difference to the temperature in your fridge, so you don’t really need to worry about adding it. If you add a large quantity of hot pasta, however, this could cause problems.
Where the line needs to be drawn depends a lot on what you already have in the fridge and how quickly you intend to use it up, but if you want to maximize the shelf life of your fridge items, you don’t want to add hot pasta.
If you have meat in the fridge, try not to put warm pasta in there as well, as this could compromise the meat’s freshness and make it unfit for consumption.
Bear in mind that there is no way to tell if meat has been exposed to salmonella, etc., so if you can’t depend on food safety guidelines, you don’t know if the food is safe to eat or not.
How Much Warm Pasta Can You Put in the Fridge?
This depends on how large your fridge is and how hot the pasta is. In general, a small bowlful of pasta that is a little hotter than room temperature shouldn’t be problematic. However, if you have a large pan full of pasta or several bowls, it would be best to let the pasta cool to room temperature before you put it in the fridge.
If your fridge is very old or already has issues with holding its temperature reliably, don’t put any hot food in it. Cool your food first.
How Quickly Should You Eat Leftover Pasta?
Leftover pasta shouldn’t be kept in the fridge for longer than three to five days. This goes for store-bought dried pasta that you have cooked and refrigerated as soon as it has turned cold.
If you are dealing with cooked fresh pasta, you should only store it for about three days in the fridge before discarding it. Most other pastas, such as gluten free options or tortellini, should last up to five days in the fridge.
How Can You Cool Pasta Down?
If you want to cool your pasta down quickly so that you can get it into the fridge, make sure you tip it into a cold container and rinse it with some cool water. This should take most of the heat out of it. Drain it so it doesn’t turn soggy, and then set it aside to finish cooling.
If you don’t want to rinse the pasta because it is already a bit soft or it has a sauce of some kind on it, simply tip it into a wide, shallow bowl, and spread it out as much as possible. This allows the heat to disperse effectively and should help it to cool down fast.
You could even chill the dish in the fridge before adding the pasta to it, as this will also help to pull heat away from the pasta and reduce its temperature quickly.
An alternative option is to put your pasta in a watertight container and place it in cold water for a while. This should again help to pull the heat out and disperse it.
Why Shouldn’t You Put Hot Food in the Fridge?
The main reason for not putting hot food in the fridge is that this raises the overall temperature of the fridge and the food in it. It makes your fridge work harder, and could potentially expose you to a salmonella risk.
The point of refrigerating food is to reduce the risk of bacteria getting into the food and making you sick. When you refrigerate meat and other foods, you are lowering the temperature of the food to keep it safe from bacteria for longer. If you don’t do this, you are at risk of food poisoning.
However, if you put hot food in the fridge, you raise the temperature. This is particularly noticeable close to that food, but it will affect the whole fridge overall. With this increase in temperature, your food will be more welcoming to food borne bacteria, and more likely to make you sick.
Putting hot food in the fridge makes the other food less likely to last well. It also reduces your confidence in the integrity of your food.
Food safety guidelines and information on how long you can keep certain foods for are based on your fridge being cold enough, and that means if you put a lot of hot food in the fridge, these guidelines are no longer applicable.
You can put a small bowl of warm or lukewarm pasta in the fridge without needing to worry about it, but it’s important not to put very hot pasta or very large quantities of warm pasta in the fridge without cooling it first.
This will raise the overall temperature of the fridge and could make other foods unsafe for consumption. Instead, leave your pasta on the counter until it is room temperature or close to room temperature, and then place it in a container in the fridge.