November 30, 2021

Thanksgiving 2021: How long do leftovers last? Your guide to post-holiday food safety

LOS ANGELES — The joyful indulgence of a vacation meal does not essentially finish when everyone will get up from the desk; it is a time-honored custom to dig again into your leftovers within the days following a giant vacation and even to give them new life as sandwiches or casseroles.

Leftovers, although, do not final without end, and it is essential to observe good food safety habits to forestall the unfold of foodborne sicknesses. As a basic guideline, the U.S. Division of Well being & Human Providers recommends consuming or freezing turkey and different leftovers inside three to 4 days. For Thanksgiving, meaning it is best to eat or freeze by Monday.

For those who’re unsure what to do with leftover turkey, go to for a listing of straightforward leftover turkey recipes.

Storing leftovers

After your large vacation meal, refrigerate your leftovers inside two hours to forestall spoilage. Any perishable food left at room temperature for greater than two hours ought to be thought of unsafe and discarded.

Opposite to fashionable opinion, you should not let leftovers cool to room temperature earlier than refrigerating them, in accordance to DHHS: “Leftovers should be placed in the refrigerator or freezer as soon as possible, even if they still have steam or heat coming off of them.”

It is best to portion out leftovers into smaller servings and retailer them in shallow containers with a lid, DHHS recommends, so carve your turkey as a substitute of storing an entire chook.

Reheating leftovers

When it comes time to feast in your leftovers, just remember to reheat them totally.

“Always test reheated leftovers in several places with a meat thermometer to be sure they reach 165 degrees Fahrenheit throughout. When reheating foods in the microwave, cover and rotate or stir foods once or twice during cooking,” the USDA advises.

For those who’re reheating within the oven, the oven ought to be set to 325 levels or greater, the company added. Gradual cookers and chafing dishes shouldn’t be used to reheat beforehand cooked dishes as a result of they may maintain food at an unsafe temperature for too long, although they can be utilized to maintain already-reheated food heat throughout serving.

Freezing leftovers

Do you have to select to freeze leftovers, your mileage will fluctuate relying on the dish. The USDA’s FoodKeeper app broadly advises shoppers that leftover dishes containing meat, fish, poultry, or egg final two to three months within the freezer. Leftovers with out meat, although, solely final one to two months within the freezer.

This story was initially revealed in November 2018.