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Keeping Food Cold On a Buffet
Safe Temperatures for Food
Keeping food cold on a buffet is not that hard -- it just takes some ingenuity, creativity and tips from professionals. Keeping hot foods hot and cold foods cold will ensure your guests safety and your peace of mind.
I was in the industry for a lot of years and still love to put together buffets for events and occasions. I was certified and re-certified over the years about food safety and sanitation. I thought it might be helpful to have a list of tips and suggestions you can use at home and for parties you host -- wherever they are!
Do you know the holding safe temperatures for foods? Do you know the danger zone temperatures?
Let's look at some ways to hold your cold foods at proper temperature on a buffet and still keep it very stylish. Yes, it can be done!
Image Credit - Mandee Sears/DecoratingforEvents
Check to make sure your catering dishes
are doing their job.
Benefits of this thermometer include:
- Pocket-sized quick-read thermometer that's great for measuring temp in thin cuts of meat, fish or poultry
- 5-inch stainless steel stem can get a reading in 6-8 seconds; stainless steel housing surrounding the digital readout
- Large-digit readout, data-hold capabilities, 10-minute auto-off, plastic sheath with pen clip
- Temperature range of -40 to 450 degrees F (-40 to 230 degrees C)
- Powered by LR44 button battery (included); backed by 5-year limited warranty
Cold Party Food
When holding cold foods on a buffet, they have to be
kept at 40Â° F (4Â° C) or lower in temperature to keep bacteria from growing.
Image Credit - DecoratingforEvents - MandeeWhen offering sandwich spreads (chicken, ham, tuna,egg salads, etc...) or dips, condiments, dressings, potato and macaroni salads (especially mayonnaise based) you should start with cold ingredients. This makes it easier to get the temperature at 40° F or lower for holding on your buffet.
These types of food should never be left at room temperature, even for a short time. Bacteria will begin to grow very quickly. Starting with already cold ingredients will deter the bacteria from growing.
When making a display for cold foods, using ice is the best option to keep proper temperatures. Make sure the ice is level with the top of the serving dish for best results. Then, check food temps with a thermometer occasionally and replace melted ice when needed.
Dip on Ice - Keeping Food Cold on a Buffet - Perfect for Keeping Dip, Condiments and Sauces Cold
Best way to make sure a dip with dairy or mayo stays at a safe serving temperature throughout your party is to serve it on ice. This 2 piece set is perfect and affordable. Get two or three so you can have peace of mind!
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has a wonderful article with tips for setting up buffet food as well.
Visit it here.
Image - DecoratingforEvents - MandeeThis is a close-up of the palm tree buffet photo above. It is set up on a sealed mirror. Ice is placed on the mirror and then the fruit and cheese directly on top of the ice. Leaf lettuce and kale can be used around the edges where the ice and mirror come together. Simple touch but finishes the look.
Image - DecoratingforEvents - MandeeThe photo on the right is of a large fruit display but can be parred down for any size event. Again, the mirror is used, ice on the mirror, leaf lettuce around the edges and the fruit assortment directly on top of the ice. You can also bury small bowls of dips in the ice in strategic locations.
Ice Bar for your Buffet
Keeping Cold Food Cold on a Buffet is Easy!
One way to keep foods cold indoors or outdoors is with a portable, inflatable ice bar. Fill with ice and place your food directly on top of the ice for veggies and fruit or inside containers placed in the ice for salads, dips, dressings, condiments, etc...
The picture to the right is very simple, but you can jazz it up by covering the ice with silk greenery garland or bushes, flowers or other water safe décor.
The products below accomplish the same purpose. The first has a tropical floral pattern and the second is another white option. Any of these three will help keep your guests safe from food borne illness.
Inflatable Tropical Buffet Cooler Party SuppliesBuy Now
Inflatable Portable Buffet and Salad BarBuy Now
Safari Themed (Animal Print) Inflatable BuffetBuy Now
And, check out this one for a Halloween Party Buffet!
Keep It Cold Condiment Serving Station - Especially Mayonnaise
Cold condiments are hard to come by at a party, picnic or pot luck. Keep them fresh and crisp with this condiment holder on ice.
3 Pc. Cold Food Server - Fruits, Veggies or Appetizers
Bottom ice compartment, food compartment and a domed lid make this set perfect for keeping food cold on your buffet table. Overall dimensions are 13½" x 9½" x 3" deep.
Prodyne's Buffet on Ice Serving Dish - 4 Compartment Dish on Ice
The food tray (upper) is a 4 compartment dish so you have the choice to serve all one item or up to 4 different items in the same ice cold dish. The lower compartment houses the ice. Very large serving dish at 19¾ x 11¾" x 5" deep overall.
You can use bus tubs or large storage containers too. Make sure they are not cracked. Lay a linen table cloth in the container, fill with ice and fill with your foods or food containers. Position the table cloth around the container to hide it. Add flowers or greenery to jazz it up.
Fruit Basket on Ice - from The Stylish Buffet Table
Image used with Permission: The Stylish Buffet Table
Image Credit - DecoratingforEvents - MandeeInstead of the tired old vegetable tray -- make a veggie basket. These are step by step directions and in no time you will have a unique vegetable display your friends will envy.
Choose a basket from your own collection or buy one to go along with your theme or color scheme of your party.
Image Credit - DecoratingforEvents - MandeeHaving shrimp? Build a shrimp waterfall. Again, step by step directions to building your own waterfall of shrimp to dazzle your guests.
Fruit trees are also fun. Use green and red grapes (safe at room temperature) and stick them to a foam cone, topiary or any other shape you desire. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination.
It is just as important to make sure your hot foods are held at a food safe temperature. Using a catering dish and catering how to will equip you with the necessary info to have a safe but gorgeous buffet!
This is a and would make a stylish addition to any buffet. It costs the same as most Crockpots - Slow Cookers but makes a statement on a buffet table. Winware 4 Quart Round Stainless Steel Gold Accented Chafer
More Self Catering Resources - Buffets & Dessert Tables
- Self Catering Tips and Tricks
People are always asking me how to keep hot food hot and cold food cold, but stylishly. They don't want to line up a bunch of roasters or those ugly DIY aluminum chafers from party stores.
- Decorating Buffets - Buffetscapes
Yes, your buffets are part of your décor! They can add to or take away from the ambience of your event. There are many ways to make your buffet interesting, visually. Think about catered events you have attended. Chefs, caterers and event hosts are .
- How to Make a Veggie Basket
Step-by-step how to make a veggie basket that will keep your veggies and dips cold and crisp throughout the party.
Keep Hot Foods Hot by Crock-Pot
It's Hot Baby!
It is just as important to keep your hot foods hot on a buffet. Check out this review article of products made by Crock-Pot -- the original slow cooker.
Cook and serve all in the same place. Less mess leaves time for more mingling. Nothin' better!
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Keeping Food Cold on Buffets
These tips and tricks come straight from someone that has catered for years. Now you know how the professionals are keeping food cold on a buffet.