There is nothing quite like the comfort of enjoying a big plate of Thanksgiving Day leftovers. In fact, many people look forward not only to Thanksgiving Day, but also the day after, simply for the pleasures of leftover turkey, stuffing, cranberry sauce, and of course, pie! So even though Thanksgiving is over, the holiday will keep on giving, so long as you store all your leftovers properly that is. Improper storage practices can reduce the quality of food, as well as pose several health risks since contamination can happen quite quickly.
In order to get the most of your holiday leftovers, and to protect your loved ones, be sure, you know how to store food the right way. You can give your fridge a quick check right now to see if your storage practices are keeping your foods tasty and fresh.
Continue reading to learn all the tips you need to know for storing Thanksgiving leftovers, safely.
Cooling and Packing
Leftover foods should be stored in a separate container than the one they were served in. So, if you simply put your sweet potato casserole dish in the fridge and covered it with some plastic wrap, it is not the best practice for maintaining quality and freshness. Instead, pack all leftover foods separately in shallow containers with airtight lids, or plastic storage bags. Use the smallest container possible for each type of food you are storing to reduce oxygen exposure.
Length of Time
in order to maintain top quality and freshness, it is best to consume your Thanksgiving leftovers within 5 to 7 days. It is recommended to simply reheat the portion of food that you want to eat rather than heating up the entire container. Although it is safety reheat the entire container, and then store it again, reheating one portion at a time as needed will keep the food fresher for longer. If you wish to freeze your leftovers, be sure to use freezer-safe containers or plastic bags. In the freezer, leftovers should remain good for 2 to 6 months.
Defrosting Frozen Foods
There are three primary ways to thaw out leftover frozen foods. The best way to defrost frozen foods is to simply place them in the refrigerator and let them thaw out overnight. Just be sure to transfer them to a plate and keep them in the container. You can also choose to use cold running water to defrost frozen foods. To do this, run lukewarm water at your kitchen faucet directly on top of the frozen container. Depending on the mass and volume of the item, this can take anywhere from an hour to several hours. If you don’t waste water, you can fill a large bowl with lukewarm water, and place the frozen item inside. This can also take a few hours; however, you will feel like you’re wasting water or money. The least recommended way to de-thaw frozen foods is to use the microwave. If you choose to use this method, just be sure to follow your manufacturer’s instructions for your particular make and model microwave.
As mentioned, leftover foods can remain in the refrigerator safely for up to seven days. In order to reheat them safely, be sure the internal temperatures reach 165° Fahrenheit. If you are reheating sauces, be sure to bring them to a full boil before consuming to ensure any bacterial growth has been killed. When reheating foods in the microwave, use microwave-safe plate or containers, and rotate them during the heating process to ensure even cooking.
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