Party planning requires more than lists - it's all about keeping food and guests safe
Parties are fun at any time of year, but hosting carries the added burden of keeping guests well through above-the-norm kitchen and food safety issues. Sure, when you're cooking on your own, the dog or cat may roam through the kitchen. Not a good idea when preparing food for other people. There are a few other beyond-the-basics that should be kept in mind.
Our number one rule is: Reserve and Replace.
That means if food has been out for two hours (or less), refrigerate and replace with fresh foods. Prepare plenty of backups and keep them refrigerated. For instance, set out smaller trays and swap them out in one-hour increments. The buffet table will look full and food won't begin to go limp.
To do this successfully, you'll need plenty of fridge space. If you know the neighbors (and have invited them to the party, of course), ask to keep foods in their refrigerator. Some foods can be set in ice chests - covered or bagged - for short periods.
A few foods can stand up to the test of time. These include tomatoes and cucumbers. Grilled vegetables can remain in a warming tray without losing their appeal.
Is it safe to prepare foods ahead of time?
Yes and no, depending on space and the type of foods.
Number one - space.
Never thaw any party food at room temperature. The time it takes for counter thawing combined with how long it will be sitting on a buffet table are a deadly combination. If you don't have fridge space for thawing and keeping a day or so before the party, there's really no point.
When using ice chests, keep a reliable refrigerator thermometer in each unit.
During hot weather when parties are outdoors:
The standard two-hour rule does not apply when eating outdoors. When outdoor temperatures rise above 85-90 degrees, do not leave food out for longer than one hour.
-Keep ice chests
in the house or in a cool, shaded area of the back yard.
2005-2006 C.K. Kennedy
Pittsburg, TX 75686
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