After Thanksgiving you should only get sick of eating leftovers, not sick from eating leftovers. The USDA offers tips on how to properly store your Thanksgiving leftovers so you can remain with your family and not in the emergency room this holiday season.
The USDA recommends putting away leftovers within two hours of cooking. You should use smaller containers to portion out the food so it can cool quickly in the refrigerator. Food safety experts warn putting too much food into one large container allows bacteria to multiply before the food cools down to a safe temperature.
How long can your leftovers last? While that may depend on your appetite, you should keep in mind that if everything you put in the refrigerator on Thursday is not gone by Monday you should throw it out. The USDA recommends keeping leftovers for three to four days. If you store the food in the freezer, you will be able to keep them longer. However, the experts recommend eating frozen leftovers within six months for the best quality.
How should you reheat the leftovers? That largely depends on your personal taste. However, the experts warn all food needs to reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees in order to eliminate bacteria.
Here are some reheating tips from the USDA:
- Reheat sauces, soups and gravies by bringing them to a rolling boil.
- When reheating in the microwave, cover and rotate the food for even heating. Arrange food items evenly in a covered microwave-safe glass or ceramic dish and add some liquid if needed. Be sure the covering is microwave safe and vent the lid or wrap to let the steam escape. The moist heat that is created will help destroy harmful bacteria and will ensure uniform cooking.
- Also, because microwaves have cold spots, check the temperature of the food in several places with a food thermometer and allow a resting time before checking the internal temperature of the food with a food thermometer.
Finally, if you are having a late start to Thanksgiving and have not started cooking. Check out these tips from some of EPIC Charter School’s youngest chefs. Though, you may not want to follow all their advice.