Many large dinners, brunch gatherings and parties wrap up with substantial amounts of leftovers for you to enjoy later. Saving uneaten food from meals keeps money in your wallet and reduces food waste, but you should first make sure the food is handled and cooked well, then stored properly. Otherwise, leftovers can become unsafe to eat. Some people don’t like the taste of leftover food, while others say many foods taste better the second or third day.
If you are new to following the food-saving model, you might be wondering how to save leftovers without putting your health at risk. Here are some rules to ensure proper handling of leftover foods:
- Chill leftovers in a timely manner: Refrigerating leftovers in Walla Walla County, WA within two hours of preparation, or within one hour on hot days, is advised. Prompt cold storage reduces the chance of bacteria growth in perishable leftover foods. Spoiled food can make you ill and can even put the health of young children and the elderly at risk. That said, any perishable foods left sitting out at room temperature longer than two hours should be thrown away.
- Freeze foods for later: If you decide to freeze leftovers, make sure to place foods in airtight, freezer-safe containers. Freezing is good at stopping the growth of bacteria and germs, but storing food for too long in the freezer can affect its quality. Freezer burn is another concern. Label leftovers in the freezer with the day’s date and plan to reheat and eat sometime within the next few weeks. How long food will last in the freezer depends on the type of food.
- Cool down hot foods quickly: Before refrigerating or freezing leftovers, be sure they are sufficiently cool and no longer hot to the touch. Like chilling foods promptly, cooling down hot foods quickly discourages bacteria growth. One way to do this is by separating large quantities of hot leftovers into smaller, shallower storage containers. Let foods cool down some before clicking lids shut and putting them in the refrigerator.
- Reheat leftovers before eating: It’s not unusual to prefer eating cold leftovers. However, to ensure health and safety when eating leftovers, reheating is a must. Reheat leftovers in a dish until the internal temperature of the food is at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit. Stir the food periodically to encourage even reheating.
- Toss abandoned leftovers: Leftovers that are properly handled and stored can usually be kept in the refrigerator three to four days on average. Any uneaten leftovers still in the fridge after four days should be thrown away.
- Protect pets: Some human foods are not safe for pet consumption, even cold-stored food items. Refrain from feeding pets table scraps, and especially avoid giving them spoiled leftovers. Dogs and cats are just as susceptible to foodborne illnesses as people are.
When it comes to refrigerating leftovers, do it properly or not at all. As for cleaning your refrigerator inside and out from time to time, leave the hard work to the team at Supreme Cleaning Services in Walla Walla County, WA. Call us today to schedule a service appointment!
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