There’s advice and then there’s advice for real life (we can’t ALL be Martha).
Recently, the team at Canadian Beef set about providing advice for real life. The task: how to pack hot lunches safely. As a result, we conducted an in-house test of a vacuum insulated Thermos Food Jar to find out whether it would do the trick.
We wanted to make sure this product can keep beef chili at a safe temperature of 60⁰C or higher until lunch time – that is for at least four hours. By the way, 60⁰C is the minimum temperature public health inspectors look for in foods held hot in restaurants. Our testing showed a Food Jar placed in an insulated lunch bag will do exactly that.
We tested three heating and packing methods measuring the temperature with an accurate and sensitive thermocouple thermometer.
The results: only one heating and packing method passed the test:
- Fill the Food Jar with boiling water, close the lid tightly and let it stand for 5 minutes
- Meanwhile heat chili/soup/stew by letting it simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally
- Empty out the water from the Food Jar and fill with chili/soup/stew
- Close the lid tightly and place the Food Jar in an insulated lunch box
Our results showed the key for maintaining a safe temperature was in placing the Food Jar in an insulated lunch box. Needless to say, cold or frozen food items shouldn’t be packed in the same lunch box.
Another great tip: stick the Food Jar in a (clean!) thermal ski sock (maybe one missing its mate) for some extra heat maintenance.
From our test kitchen, to our food safety department, it’s tests like these that allow us to make evidence-based safe recommendations for real life we need to know…like how to pack a lunch.
What other tips would like to know? We’re here to help, so ask away!
All Family Big Batch Beef ChiliAdapted from a recipe by Chef Jean-Francois Fortin of the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise, this chili makes a big pot – perfect for when you have the gang over or want to stock your freezer with speedy weeknight dinners. The seasoning is quite mild so if you want to spice it up, serve with some hot sauce or add ½ tsp chili pepper flakes while sautéing the seasonings.
Beef Steak Pho (Noodle Soup)Make with thinly sliced prime rib or strip loin steaks. You can make your own pho flavoured beef broth (see Tip below) or buy ready-made. Serve the soup with hot sauce and soy sauce.
Slow and Easy Beef StewWhat could be more delicious than a good basic beef stew. When you make it in the slow cooker - dinner is ready when you are. Stews always taste better the next day, so any leftovers will make a perfect lunch.