Thanksgiving meals often result in an abundance of leftovers. Properly storing these leftovers is crucial to ensure they remain safe and delicious.
Here are expert guidelines for handling Thanksgiving leftovers.
Leftovers should be refrigerated promptly, ideally within two hours after cooking. According to Jesus Garcia of the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service, cooked food can be safely stored in a fridge at 40°F for up to four days. After this period, it’s advisable to consume, freeze, or discard the food.
Safe Storage Duration
It’s recommended to break down large items like turkey into smaller portions for storage in shallow containers.
This method allows quicker cooling, reducing the risk of bacterial growth. Leftovers should be covered or wrapped in airtight packaging to prevent contamination and moisture loss.
Vanessa Imus, a registered dietitian, cautions against solely relying on smell or sight to determine the safety of leftovers. Adhering to the four-day rule is a safer approach. If the preparation date is uncertain, it’s better to discard the leftovers.
When reheating, ensure leftovers reach an internal temperature of 165°F. This requires using a food thermometer, as microwaves may heat food unevenly. Stirring and turning the food during reheating helps achieve uniform temperature.
Remember to wash hands thoroughly before, during, and after handling food to avoid foodborne illnesses. Setting a timer to remind hosts to refrigerate food promptly can prevent potential food safety risks.
With information from: