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For the last few years I’ve made my tomato sauces in a slow cooker (‘crock pot’), or actually, in a machine that is sold as a ‘plate warmer’ but works great for low temperature cooking. I pre-heat the ingredients on my stove, then transfer it to the slow cooker for 10 or 14 hours to let all the flavors blend, then I puree and can the result. When I first learned this technique, I was told not to stir the sauce, because the long cooking time makes the sugars at the top caramelize and that would bring out a great sweet flavor. Indeed the top, after being in the cooker for that long, browns a bit, and the flavor is great.

However, recently I was learning a bit more about caramelization to understand my baking better, and it turns out that there are no sugars that caramelize at temperatures < 110 (C). So now I’m wondering – is this caramelization of my tomato sauce just a myth? The machine only goes up to 90 degrees. I’ve checked the temperature at various depths in my sauce with an infrared thermometer, and indeed the temperature is nowhere higher than that. Anyone have more than anecdotal information on the chemistry of making tomato sauce?

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There are many questions on here about how long you can store cooked food, and I have been using StillTasty for more specific answers following some of the comments.

However I notice that StillTasty has information listed for many foods for “Fresh, Cooked”, “Fresh, Raw” and “Commercially Frozen”. Is there a difference in storage of “Fresh, Cooked” food and food that was frozen and thawed before cooking? Or is this just an oddity of their descriptions?

Edit: Assuming the thawing and cooking has been done thoroughly to “safe temperatures”.

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Many people have strong opinions on when to apply a rub — some say to allow at least a few hours and preferably overnight. Others literally apply it as they are putting them in the smoker/oven. Since people do it both ways and both claim to end up with terrific, moist ribs, whatever effect this might have is probably small.

It may change aspects of the “glazing” effect that a rub might give, depending on what is in the rub. A rub left on for a longer period will become more mushy and more like a paste or a glaze/sauce, while a rub put on fresh before cooking won’t have time to become as moist. You will get slightly more flavor penetration with a longer rest, but there are diminishing returns there too after the first hour or two.

I don’t have experimental evidence to back this up, but I think the “early rub will dry things out” argument is pretty flimsy from a food science perspective. It is true that rubs which contain significant amounts of salt, sugar, or other hydrophilic substances will cause some moisture to come out of the meat. On the other hand, most people tend to cook ribs for quite a few hours anyway (and some smoke them for many hours), so the rub will have plenty of time to draw out that moisture regardless of whether you put it on ahead or time or right before cooking.

It’s not like you’re salt-curing the meat and leaving the salt on it for months. Once the salt (and/or sugar) draws out the moisture from the outermost thin layer of meat, it generally takes much longer for moisture to migrate from inner parts of the meat. That surface layer of meat will release most of its moisture within an hour or so after you put salt or sugar or whatever on. So, even if you put your rub on immediately before putting it in the smoker, that moisture will tend to be drawn out in the first part of the cooking time. Adding a few more hours or even overnight to the rub shouldn’t result in significantly more moisture loss from the meat’s interior — and the exterior will always dry out a bit as it cooks anyway.

Moreover, you aren’t generally draining away moisture from the surface. With ribs, you often have them wrapped up to rest, which means the meat sits in that moisture. And guess what? About 10-15 minutes in, the brine produced by the moisture combined with the salt in the rub will begin to break down the outer muscle structure of the meat and cause it to absorb more moisture than usual, so much of that liquid lost will be reabsorbed back into the meat within an hour or so. (Note that the salt and water are carried back into the meat with some of the other spice compounds which are in the rub, so there is perhaps some flavor advantage to applying the rub at least a little in advance. On the other hand, again this mostly affects only the outermost layer of meat, so more than an hour or two probably won’t make more significant changes in the flavor.)

If you’re talking about searing a steak, when you salt it might have some impact, since you generally don’t want to time your sear at the point at which moisture is being released at the maximum rate. But for ribs or anything with a long slow cooking time? It’s really not a big issue.

As mentioned above, the larger effect will generally be what happens to the rub as it sits on the meat for many hours. You may find that the change in texture there may change the final appearance or texture of the outer surface. But the idea that the interior will dry out significantly? It doesn’t seem likely.

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If you are going to have them for lunch tomorrow, usually putting the dish in the fridge overnight. Depending on the dish, cover with cling film/tin foil or place in a sealed container (e.g. Tupperware).

Reheating depends on the dish whether you microwave, oven or stove top your meal all you have to do is make sure the whole lot is piping hot.

If you are having leftovers later in the week, freeze them immediately. Be careful in cases where you are taking something from the freezer to put in a preheated oven – not for the food’s sake but for the container. A pyrex (glass) casserole dish can be frozen and oven baked but it is not advised that you bake immediately from the freezer, allow the container to warm up to room temperature first.

Edit: In light of new information (to me at least) this answer has been updated, thank you Jefromi.

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I am a great fan of hot sauces. Usually, they advertise what pepper they are using.

I cannot find that type of information on the Sriracha bottle I have at home. The only information I have is “chili”.

What is the pepper use in that recipe?

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So, a friend of mine told me they frequently add raw chicken to their (already cooked) leftovers when reheating (in a pan) to top them up. Though they stress that the chicken is completely cooked by the end of the reheating.

I feel like this is extremely unsafe in terms of food hygiene and food contamination, but apparently my friend and most of their family members have done this quite frequently without issue.

Other than the reheated food being overcooked and degraded in quality, I am not sure how I could explain that this isn’t a safe practice. Or am I completely wrong in this matter?

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Vinegar freezes at about -2C, so it will have a minimal effect on the freezing of ice cream; certainly not the major effect of alcohol.

If you want to make a sorbet smoother without adding too much extra sugar, replace some of the sugar with dextrose–it suppresses freezing a little better than sugar, and is less sweet. You might also try stabilizers like locust bean gum or guar gum.

You might also consider skipping the syrup and just dissolve the sugar directly into the juice without the extra water (although this will affect the flavor–some fruits benefit from being diluted a bit).

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No, refrigeration will not damage your inner pot. Some materials (such as ceramic) can be damaged by rapid temperature changes but the one you picture appears to be stainless steel or similar alloy and will handle temperature changes very well. Note: refrigeration is not bad for ceramic but rather going from one extreme to the other.

Please Don’t leave it to sit on your counter to cool. You need to bring the temperature down for safe storage. See this answer on more about safe cooling and storage practices.

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