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Many recipes call for ingredients that are normally stored cold to be at room temperature at the time of use. One example is a cake recipe, which often calls for all ingredients (milk, eggs, etc) to be at room temperature.

What is the safe method of bringing these ingredients to room temperature? Do you just leave them out for a few hours?

Alternatively, what is a quick way to accomplish this? Heat them up? Place them in room temperature or warm water baths?

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3 Answers 3

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If it is something like the eggs for baking a cake then you take out the number of eggs you need for the recipe and let them sit on the counter for about an hour before you start putting your ingredients together. I've been baking for a great many years and even if the eggs are still a little chilly it won't do any harm to a cake or cookie recipe. It might make a difference for bread recipes but the warm water used to activate the yeast will usually bring up the temp of other ingredients to where you need it.

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Specifically in regards to leaving milk out, at one time I worked in an institutional kitchen. The milk we got had a table on it giving temperatures and the time it was safe to leave out in those temperatures. I don't remember the exact numbers, but the table went up to 90 degrees Fahrenheit. There should be no problem leaving milk, and most other ingredients, out for an hour or two at room temperature.

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I agree, but it's worth mentioning that most of the food safety timings are cumulative, so although it's fine to leave it to warm for an hour and use it, you want to measure out the amount to be using rather than letting a gallon of milk to warm up, use a cup, then try to chill it down, then repeat again the next day. Most large kitchens go through ingredients in such volume, they won't have this problem, but home cooks often do. –  Joe Apr 16 '11 at 16:56
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Eggs are actually pretty safe to leave at room temperature anyway; supermarkets don't bother refrigerating them, and you can be damn sure they're not going to risk losing any money through spoilage. I keep mine in a ceramic bowl on the counter top.

In general, simply take the required ingredient out of the fridge a couple of hours before use, keep it away from heat sources and out of direct sunlight.

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FYI, in the US eggs for the retail market are refrigerated throughout the supply chain (required by law). –  derobert Apr 20 '11 at 7:13
    
Thanks. I wonder how the rest of the world manages, what with our warm eggs! :) –  ElendilTheTall Apr 20 '11 at 8:36
    
I believe most countries don't wash their eggs. The protective coating keeps them from spoiling, and they have many days, if not a few weeks, worth of shelf life. American eggs are washed (to prevent Salmonella?), and without the coating are not shelf stable. At normal temps (65-75F), I would assume they would be ok for a couple of days if they are fresh. If you can get them unwashed from a farm (or from your own chickens), then you really don't have to refrigerate them at all. –  JSM Jun 4 at 17:28
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