Thanksgiving: Tips for Leftovers

by Grace Obuobisa

It’s Thanksgiving and you’ve got a lot of food leftover in your fridge. Here are some quick tips on how to prolong your delicious Thanksgiving treats.

Handling food safely 

Your leftovers should be stored within two hours of cooking, even if they’re still warm. 76% of respondents in a recent USDA study said they would refrigerate leftovers after letting them cool to room temperature first. This could make your food unsafe! Divide them into smaller portions and refrigerate or freeze them in covered shallow containers so they cool quickly. Smaller containers reduce the chance of bacteria. Make sure your turkey is cut up and portioned to ensure quick cooling in the refrigerator. 

Turkey should be safe in the refrigerator for three to four days. If you keep them in the freezer, they will stay fresh within 2-6 months. 

Now, on to the dishes – reheat leftovers safely.

For those in a hurry, no need to fear. It’s safe to reheat frozen leftovers without thawing, either in a saucepan, microwave, or oven.  However reheating will take much longer, so take that with a grain of salt. When reheating leftovers,  cover them and make sure that they reach 165°F. 

Reheating tips:

Reheat sauces, soups and gravies by bringing them to a rolling boil.

When reheating in the microwave, cover and rotate food for even heating. Arrange food items evenly in a covered microwave-safe dish and add some liquid if needed. Be sure to vent the lid to let the steam escape. The heat will help destroy harmful bacteria and ensure uniform cooking. 

Once done, check the temperature of the food in several places with a food thermometer-This is because microwaves have cold spots!-and let it cool before checking the internal temperature with a food thermometer.

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