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!Abuelita! Asi no se guarda, no! - How to cherish your grandmother’s cooking by keeping it safe from foodborne illness

Hispanic family gathered in the kitchen.Hispanic Heritage month marks an excellent time to share stories of tradition and perseverance with family. While you’re at it, it may also be a good time to put to rest habits that put your family at risk of foodborne illness.

One of the ‘traditions’ that Latinos can break is keeping food out on the stove, or in a switched-off oven. Often times, well-meaning abuelitas want to keep the food available for late arriving guests. Now, we all have that primo (cousin) or cuñado (brother-in –law) who arrives late and hungry. Little do they know that their delicious pozole can result in bad gastrointestinal consequences for them.

You see, by the time the guests arrive, the food has spent too much time in the danger zone, a range of temperature between 40 ˚F and 140 ˚F, where bacteria multiply rapidly. If food hangs out too long, two hours or more, anyone who eats that dish is in danger of getting sick.

Guardando el Pozole or Saving the Pozole

Dishes like abuelita’s pozole, which are often cooked in massive stock pots, should be cooled in the following way:

  • Divide large amounts of food into shallow containers.
  • Place the items in the refrigerator or freezer.
  • Items in the refrigerator will stay safe for 3-4 days
  • Items in the freezer can stay safe forever, but for best quality, they should be eaten within three or four months.

Salvando a los Parientes or Looking Out for Your Loved Ones

If any guests are expected to arrive late to a party and you want to hold food for them you should set aside a portion. You can either keep the dish hot in a smaller sauce pan, at a temperature above 140 ˚F or you can set aside a portion in a food safe plastic container. If you package it, the food container should be placed in the refrigerator.  

No one wants to blame grandma for foodborne illness, but when soup isn’t cooled down quickly it can turn your parranda into a hot mess.

If you have questions about storage times of food or beverages, download USDA’s new FoodKeeper application for Android and iOS devices.


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Posted in: Food Safety | Kitchen Safety | SeasonalTagged: Food Safety | Food Prep | Kitchen