Hot foods that have been handled in a sanitary manner and that are served at or above a temperature that kills microorganisms can usually be considered safe and sanitary to eat. Cold foods, on the other hand, present special problems because they have been stored and handled after cooking. During this time, they may be exposed to disease-causing organisms. Because these foods are not subjected to further cooking, the organisms will not be destroyed.
For this reason, it is particularly important to follow all the rules of safe food handling. Make sure tools, containers, and work surfaces are clean and sanitary. Keep ingredients refrigerated when they are not being worked on, and keep the finished product refrigerated until service time. Always observe the four-hour rule, as explained on page 26.
The length of time terrines and other cold foods can be stored in the refrigerator depends on the ingredients, the type of item, and the method of preparation. Uncut meat terrines sealed with a layer of fat (see p. 860) may keep as long as several weeks (although the quality may start to decline after a week or so), while seafood and vegetable terrines may keep no more than two or three days, or even less. Pâtés en croûte (see p. 857) do not keep as well as terrines because the pastry loses its freshness. Aspics should be kept covered or wrapped to prevent them from drying out.
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