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Storing Leftovers: The Two Hour Rule and More

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Brian
11.28.14

Turkey sandwiches, pumpkin pie and bacteria. What do they have in common? If you don’t store your delicious Thanksgiving leftovers properly, they may all be inside your fridge on Friday morning!

Leftovers are the gift that keeps giving, but they need to be taken care of if they’re going to last. Follow these tips to keep your leftovers safe and maximize their longevity.

Abide by the Two-Hour Rule

Bacteria can start growing on your food just two hours after your meal leaves the oven. If you’ve slipped into a food coma, grab an espresso and pack those leftovers away as soon as possible.   

Use Small Containers

Hot food that’s kept in a large container takes a long time to cool off. That warm spot in the center can grow bacteria, even if it’s in the fridge. To combat this problem, store your leftovers in dishes no deeper than two inches.

Reheat with Extreme Prejudice

Even though your food has been cooked, it’s best to reheat leftovers to at least 165 degrees because that will kill any germs that may have set up shop while it was in the fridge. Just make sure you wait for your food to cool down before digging in!

Start the Four-Day Countdown

Sad to say, but your leftovers will only last four days in the fridge. Any longer than this, and you’ll run a much higher risk of food poisoning. Plus it won’t taste very good anymore. Come Monday evening, any remaining leftovers should be tossed or frozen. 

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