People love buffets for its vast choices and numerous dishes. Be it a sit-at-home buffet or a buffet of any size for your loved ones, you need to plan numerous things well ahead of time to provide your guests with safe and tasty food.
If you plan to host a buffet inside your comfy little home, it is better to limit portion sizes as you cannot predict how quickly the food will be eaten. It is better to prepare numerous batches of dishes well ahead of time and keep replacing them with fresh ones through the buffet. Store cold back-up dishes in the refrigerator and hot dishes in the oven to enable your late-arriving guests to enjoy the same delicious foods as your earlier guests.
You need to maintain hot foods at 140 °F or warmer placing them inside a slow cooker, warming trays or chafing dishes. A food thermometer comes in handy to check the temperature of foods. Some warmers have a maximum capacity of holding food at 110 °F to 120 °F and you need to check the warmer to ensure that it has the capacity to hold foods at 140 °F to keep the bacteria at bay. Eggs and egg dishes can be stored inside the refrigerator for serving later but take care to reheat them to 165 °F before serving. Turkey and meat products too should be cooked to a certain internal temperature before serving to avoid food poisoning. Read more on the permissible temperature levels at www.firsteatright.com.
Cold foods should be refrigerated at a temperature below 40 °F or colder until serving time. If the ice cream or chilled drink is going to remain on the buffet spread for more than two hours, keep these foods on ice to retain the chillness.
Don’t keep adding new food to already filled serving trays. Take out the old tray and replace it with freshly filled ones. Bacteria from each person’s hand can contaminate the food and further, multiply at room temperature.
The Two-Hour Rule
Follow the 2-hour rule of disposing off any perishable that has been left out at room temperature for more than 2 hours unless it has been stored hot or cold. This time is further reduced to 1 hour in places where the temperature can rise above 90 °F. The same rule is applicable with leftovers too.
Cook Traditional Recipes
Some traditional recipes might require you to use raw or lightly-cooked eggs. Ice creams, custard, chocolate mousse, rice pudding and sauces are some foods that use raw eggs. Raw eggs can sometimes contain harmful bacteria which has a dangerous effect when consumed by pregnant women, young children, older adults and people with a weakened immune system. Cook eggs as below to stay safe:
- Beat the eggs with the liquid mentioned and heat the mixture until it reaches 160 °F on the food thermometer.
- You can also purchase these above-mentioned foods from outside as they are usually cooked and pasteurized.
- Purchase pasteurized eggs. You can pick such eggs from the supermarket as their label contains the word ‘pasteurized”.
Buffets bring people together and invoke their happiness. Leave the buffet room with a happy heart and a safe tummy avoiding any risk of food poisoning.