[Sca-cooks] kitchen tips

Barbara Benson voxeight at gmail.com
Wed Aug 20 12:22:04 PDT 2008

> Can you really insure that meats or pasta held in this manner in a cooler
> will stay above 140 degrees for the number of hours you indicate?
> How can you monitor this to the satisfaction of the authorities?
> Has this method been approved by a public health department?

To my knowledge, in the area of the Country that I reside, the public
health department has no involvement in what we do in the SCA any more
than if we were having a family reunion - I realize that this does not
hold true for all areas of the Society - but for here it does. The
authorities only get involved if there is a crime committed on site.

I monitor the heat levels in the cooler the same way I do when the
meat is in the oven - with a meat thermometer. Never once has the
temperature fell below safe handling practices. I have held meat up to
2 hours, but try to keep it under an hour. Even at two hours the meat
removed from the cooler has been hot enough to cause severe discomfort
to seasoned carvers and burns on those who do not have "asbestos"
hands. My primary concern with keeping the meat in the cooler for too
long is the carryover cooking that occurs from holding the meat at a
relatively high temperature.

For noodles, I try to keep the holding time around a half hour, again
more for concerns of overcooking then food safety. And again every
time I have done it the noodles stay consistently well above the 140
degree mark.  I even had a situation where an assistant (in this case
my husband) did not heed my warning about the level of heat in the
cooler and he acquired a nasty scald/burn.

When using the cooler technique it is important for the volume of the
food you are keeping to almost completely fill the cooler - there
should not be excess space in the cooler because this will speed
cooling time. Just as it is possible to fill a cooler with ice and
keep foods at a safe temperature it is possible to fill a cooler with
something very hot and keep it at a safe temperature.

Glad Tidings,
Serena da Riva

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