Should I eat this chili with black beans?
July 11, 2017 12:37 PM   Subscribe

Should I eat this chili I made yesterday that sat in a dutch oven on the stovetop (covered with heavy lid) for approximately 6 hours after the heat was turned off before cooling in the fridge?

On Saturday, I bought 1 pound of beef stew-meat that was on sale because it was close to the expiration date. On Monday, half of the raw meat was still red, and half was a bit darker (brownish/deep-purple) so I decided to make chili in my dutch oven on the stovetop. Browned the meat in veggie oil, braised for a bit in a little water, then added a can of tomatoes, a can of black beans, can of jalapeƱos, some spices, and let it cook for a few hours. I intended to make this chili on Monday but eat it on Tuesday so around 6pm I turned off the heat but I left it covered with the heavy dutch oven lid on the stovetop while I made my actual Monday night dinner (fried rice!) At exactly 2am I woke up and remembered I never took the lid off the chili to let it cool, nor ever put it in the fridge. I got up and opened the lid, a few tablespoons of condensation dripped off the lid into the chili and I put the everything in the fridge and figured I'd deal with this in the morning. So, should I eat it? Or is the fact that the meat was almost (or probably was...) expired, or the fact that I had beans in it, or the fact that I kept it covered in the danger zone for hours... deal breakers?
posted by pwb503 to Food & Drink (33 answers total)
I'd eat it without a second thought. It was cooked for hours and never opened before being refrigerated.

(How else would you do it? You can't stick a heavy pot of hot chili in the fridge; it needs to cool until no longer hot and that takes a while.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 12:40 PM on July 11, 2017 [11 favorites]

posted by Melismata at 12:41 PM on July 11, 2017

Yes and I am very careful about avoiding foodborne illness.
posted by amro at 12:42 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

It's absolutely fine.
posted by LizardBreath at 12:43 PM on July 11, 2017

8 hours off the heat plus however long it took to get under 40? That's a push.
posted by ftm at 12:44 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

fingersandtoes: "How else would you do it? You can't stick a heavy pot of hot chili in the fridge; it needs to cool until no longer hot and that takes a while."

While I'd eat this the conventional way of cooling something like this to stay within food safe guideline would be to use an ice water bath. Half fill your sink with water; add ice cubes; set the pot in the sink; move to fridge when cooled preferably within a couple hours.
posted by Mitheral at 12:45 PM on July 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Most of us have eaten far worse and lived. I can't imagine you'd be at risk for anything but you can always overheat it in the microwave just to be safe.
posted by Jamesonian at 12:52 PM on July 11, 2017

Basically, you pasteurized your chili. Back when I was in biology, we would have considered a liquid that was boiled all day and then left on the bench in a sealed container for several hours before being put in the fridge to be perfectly sterile. This kind of cooking process will have destroyed pretty much anything living in the pot, and there's been no opportunity for it to get recolonized. You're safe.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 12:56 PM on July 11, 2017 [5 favorites]

I have eaten chili prepared and only chilled 8 to 12 hours later thusly quite a few times. I am not dead. You won't be either.
posted by madcaptenor at 12:56 PM on July 11, 2017

Typo in the question: "...sat... for approximately 8 hours after the heat was turned off.."
posted by pwb503 at 12:57 PM on July 11, 2017

This happens to every pot of chili or stew cooked in our house, somehow. I've lived.
posted by randomkeystrike at 12:58 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

What AOANLAT said. I do that all the time, on purpose, because my fridge is too small to put a pot in. I've never had any problem whatsoever.
posted by bricoleur at 1:05 PM on July 11, 2017

I'd eat it with no hesitation. Newton's Law of Cooling teaches us that it will cool more slowly at room temperature than in a fridge, but even in the fridge, a big Dutch oven full of chili is going to take more than 2 hours to cool, and unless you have a powerful fridge, you'd want to let it cool a while at room temperature before refrigerating so that the pot wouldn't warm the rest of the fridge's contents too much.
posted by brianogilvie at 1:06 PM on July 11, 2017

I've made stuff like that for lunch, left it on the stove and then ate some more for dinner.
posted by vacapinta at 1:13 PM on July 11, 2017

I'd eat it.
posted by rtha at 1:20 PM on July 11, 2017

Eat it but be prepared for gas. like ALL CAPS GAS.

Offset with ground fennel tea. or Beano.
posted by Dressed to Kill at 1:29 PM on July 11, 2017

I did this EXACT same thing and ate it. No problems whatsoever.
posted by showbiz_liz at 1:29 PM on July 11, 2017

8 hours

Without hesitation.
posted by humboldt32 at 1:30 PM on July 11, 2017

To start with, you have the time, 6 hours. Not great, but not terrible from a chili perspective-- I'd say edible.

And you have mitigating factors:

1: the item was covered sometime when it was well into the high temperature bacteria-dies-without-mercy, and not uncovered until it was time to chill. Bacteria can indeed get under the lid of a dutch oven, eventually. 6 hours, though? It'd be tough.

2: dutch ovens store heat like a battery, so cooling was slower than other kinds of vessels, so the time it was sitting in the danger zone was a much smaller portion of that 6 hours than if you had the chili in tupperware or a steel bowl.

If you won't eat it, freeze it and send it my way.
posted by Sunburnt at 1:38 PM on July 11, 2017

I can understand the theoretical benefit of ice water cooling but in reality I'd much rather take my chances on a cool-still-covered-at-room-temperature method than on sticking a hot pot into ice water, which I imagine would crack it as likely as not. Anyway OP I'm glad nobody here disagrees, your chili sounds safe and delicious. (Had you not simmered/boiled it for a long time, or if you had opened it after boiling, my answer would have been different.)
posted by fingersandtoes at 1:39 PM on July 11, 2017

I made chili in my dutch oven on Saturday, and froze it for later. But it was sitting on the countertop from approximately 6 pm to 11 pm that night because the stoneware was far too hot to put into the fridge. It's fine, you should be fine, and I do that all the time, sometimes even with ground beef that's near it's sell-by date. Acid is inhospitable to bacteria, and chili usually has slightly acidic things in it, so that's good, too.

In short, I just did it, the chili was tasty, and you should be fine. Freeze what you haven't eaten to help it last longer if you're extra-concerned.
posted by PearlRose at 1:42 PM on July 11, 2017

I'd eat it without a second thought.

True, you don't want to just shove the entire hot Dutch oven into the fridge, so the way I usually cool these things is to pack it into single or double serving-size tubs and chill or freeze those.
posted by easily confused at 2:23 PM on July 11, 2017 [3 favorites]

That's perfect chili. Eat it!
posted by DarlingBri at 2:39 PM on July 11, 2017

I would consider that chili to be essentially canned. I mean, obviously you can't store it on a shelf, but it contains a lot of acid, was heated to canning temps, and protected from bacteria since then. Not that different from being actually canned. I would eat it.
posted by HotToddy at 3:28 PM on July 11, 2017

Assuming a normal, healthy immune system, I'd eat it. Pretty unlikely for anything to get at it in a significant way, but I wouldn't risk it for someone with a compromised immune system.
posted by Aleyn at 3:31 PM on July 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Another "Yes" vote here. Pop a probiotic pill if you still carry a hint of worry. Maybe I am gross, but I have left chili covered on the stovetop overnight (because I forgot to move it to the fridge) - in addition to a few other cooked foods, throughout time - and taken a few bites of it the next morning and have never gotten even remotely sick. If your gut tells you no, don't do it, because food poisoning is never ever EVER worth it. But if it was me? I would eat the chili.
posted by nightrecordings at 4:41 PM on July 11, 2017

This is an odd question. Everybody lets the boiling hot pot with a gallon of food in it cool down before putting it in the fridge.
posted by shoesietart at 6:45 PM on July 11, 2017


What time can I pick it up?
posted by obiwanwasabi at 7:34 PM on July 11, 2017 [2 favorites]

Food safety isn't about individual outcomes. Even when exceeding most given guidelines, many outcomes will be perfectly fine.

But here I think the biggest risk was using the meat in the first place. The slow cooling - in the large pot on stove-top and then in the refrigerator - wasn't ideal, but the food was unlikely to have have been exposed to anything (if you had taken off the lid it would have been much worse even though the food would have cooled more quickly).

But if the meat was off in the first place - and smell isn't a good assessment - then no amount of boiling, hot peppers, acid, or microwaving when reheating will make it better. Boiling will kill bacteria and other organisms but it won't clean up after them.

You will probably be fine if you eat it. But there is a risk involved.
posted by mountmccabe at 9:00 PM on July 11, 2017 [1 favorite]

I do this all the time in a sub-tropical humid climate:

8 pm slow cooker on.
4 am slow cooker switches to "keep warm" mode.
6 am slow cooker switches off.
7 am I get up and forget about putting contents of slow cooker in the fridge or portion for freezing.
6 pm I get home from work and see contents of slow cooker, swear a bit, refridgerate, or portion and freeze.

Never had an issue, although I always have the lid on and ensure I re-heat portions thoroughly .

So yes.
posted by UnoDosTresEsto at 1:18 AM on July 12, 2017

My only question would be are you having it with rice, croutons, pasta, or bread?
posted by bile and syntax at 5:16 AM on July 12, 2017

UPDATE: I ate it after bringing it up to a nice hot temperature and keeping it there for a bit. It was great and there were no ill consequences. Thank you for talking me out of throwing it away.
posted by pwb503 at 12:03 PM on July 13, 2017

Eat it tomorrow too. Methane is your friend.
posted by RolandOfEld at 9:45 PM on July 13, 2017

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