There’s a lot of noise about premium ingredients, but premium temperatures matter just as much. Here are five common occasions when the wrong temperature can ruin a dish.

1. Don’t cook straight from the fridge.

Don’t pull meat straight from the refrigerator or freezer and start to cook it. If you do, the edges will cook through and be done long before the center is. Let meat sit on the counter for ten or fifteen minutes first and thaw frozen foods in the fridge first.

2. Keep food above or under the danger range.

When meat is between 40- and 140-degrees Fahrenheit, microbes can start to grow in the food. Parasites, bacteria, and even germs flourish in this temperature range, so minimize its exposure as much as possible, especially if the container is open.

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3. Don’t let eggs continue to cook.

Eggs are a fragile protein, and just seconds of extra heat can change the final product. Runny yolks can harden if the heat source isn’t removed. Even hard-boiled eggs need to be placed in cold water to halt the cooking process or else the yolks will have a grayish tint.

4. Heat everything before the meat gets to it.

If you add meat to an oily pan or surface before everything is up to temperature, then the meat just absorbs the oil and becomes mushy. Make sure the oil and the surface are heated before you add the meat so you can get a crisp sear. By the same token, make sure the pan or surface is heated before you add the oil.

5. Follow the guides for specific types of protein.

Every protein is different, and you don’t want your cooks to be working from memory. Post frequent reminders of minimum internal temperatures for different types of meat and even different cuts of meat. Those signs can stop people from guessing in the heat of the moment.

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