How Long Are Thanksgiving Leftovers Good For, Really?

Sure, Black Friday purchasing is one cause to rejoice November 26. But when we’re all being sincere, the push of consuming Thanksgiving leftovers transcends even the ultra-rare 70 % off sale. Nevertheless, earlier than you reheat the turkey and serve your self a bit of pumpkin pie—and proceed to take action for the week-plus that follows—it bears preserving a number of meals security guidelines in thoughts. So I requested to meals security consultants to reply the essential November 26 (…and 27, 28, 29, and thirtieth) query: How lengthy are Thanksgiving leftovers good for, actually?

Based on the U.S. Meals and Drug Administration, the easy reply to this query is that it’s best to attempt to gobble up the remnants of your Thanksgiving feast inside three to 4 days (if you happen to’re storing it within the fridge).

Nevertheless, like many issues in life, the expiration date of Thanksgiving leftovers is full of nuances which might be value taking note of in your well being and well-being, says microbiologist Lisa Yakas, a client security skilled on the Nationwide Sanitation Basis (NSF). “The Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention (CDC) report that almost all outbreaks of a micro organism that causes meals poisoning happen in November and December,” she says. “A lot of these outbreaks have been linked to widespread vacation meals corresponding to turkey, hen, and different poultry.” Meals poisoning may be significantly harmful to the aged, who usually tend to be hospitalized due to foodborne sicknesses.

So as to bypass the meals poisoning and head straight to the second once you’re having fun with your turkey-cranberry sandwich, we put collectively a useful turkey day information. Beneath, you may discover basic suggestions for storing and reheating leftovers, in addition to a breakdown of sort out every magnificent aspect (and, in fact, the turkey). Completely happy leftover-eating, everybody.

How lengthy are Thanksgiving leftovers good for? Meals security consultants weigh in

Earlier than we dive into the person expiration dates for every (mouthwatering) Thanksgiving dish, let’s run via some basic suggestions to remember at any time when you are having a “ought to I keep or ought to I’m going now” second with leftovers.

First, just remember to refrigerate the turkey and different perishable leftovers inside two hours of serving to cut back the prospect of micro organism progress. When you slip up and find yourself leaving the feast out longer than that, Tamika Sims, PhD, Senior Director of Meals Know-how Communications of the Worldwide Meals Info Council (IFIC), recommends tossing it to spare your self the prospect of foodborne sickness. (Womp, womp.)

Subsequent, be sure to’re utilizing your full secure of Tupperware containers to retailer these leftovers. “It’s essential to get the temperature of the leftovers down quickly to room temperature to discourage any sort of bacterial progress,” says Yakas. “To hurry the cooling course of, strive separating giant portions of leftovers into smaller containers. It’s okay to position sizzling leftovers immediately right into a correctly working fridge, offered giant portions have been divided into shallow containers for faster cooling.” Meat corresponding to ham and turkey must be sliced earlier than storing, so it cools extra evenly. Yakas additionally recommends leaving the lids off the storage container till the meals has cooled utterly, then go forward and canopy it. Storing meals in particular person parts like this may even make sure you’re not heating issues up and cooling them down once more—which may additionally result in micro organism progress. 

You may also repeat this identical course of within the freezer if you wish to take pleasure in it previous that three to four-day mark. (And don’t be concerned, there isn’t any proof to counsel that meals loses dietary worth within the freezer).

Phew, okay. Now, flash ahead to once you’re able to take pleasure in Turkey Day, half two. “When reheating leftovers, be certain that the temperature is 165 °F or above. If utilizing a microwave, stir the meals periodically to assist promote even reheating. Make certain there are not any chilly spots within the meals the place micro organism can survive. You may convey leftovers out of the fridge to room temperature earlier than warming up,” explains Yakas. Frozen leftovers may be thawed within the fridge or microwave utilizing the identical directions. Each Yakas and Dr. Sims are large followers of utilizing a meals thermometer once you’re coping with leftovers, significantly in the event that they comprise meat, to be sure to’re hitting that 165 °F mark each single time.

With all that mentioned, this is how lengthy your Thanksgiving faves final and a few finest practices for storing, reheating, and having fun with them.

How lengthy are Thanksgiving leftovers good for?

1. Turkey

Per the U.S. Division of Agriculture (USDA), refrigerated, sliced turkey may be eaten chilly or sizzling inside three to 4 days of storing the leftovers. Nevertheless, if you happen to retailer it within the freezer, you simply must eat inside two to 6 months. If you’re able to take pleasure in your turkey, thaw it (if frozen)and reheat within the oven at 325 °F within the oven. Or, if you happen to ‘re feeling impatient, cowl the meat and microwave it till your meals thermometer reads 165 °F.

2. Stuffing

Like turkey, stuffing lasts within the fridge for 3 to 4 days, or as much as six months within the freezer. Reheat it to 165 °F within the oven or microwave and also you’re able to eat.

3. Potatoes and different cooked veggies

Your entire veggies keep good for 3 to 4 days within the fridge or eight to 12 months within the freezer. Reheat your potatoes, inexperienced beans, or creamed spinach to 165 °F within the oven or microwave.

4. Rolls and biscuits

Whereas biscuits, rolls, and different Thanksgiving carbs do not should be reheated, there are a number of finest practices to comply with in terms of storing them so you do not wind up with… mould. Retailer-bought breads may be saved for 2 to 4 days at room temp, seven to 9 days within the fridge, or as much as three months within the freezer. Preservative-free breads and biscuits that you simply bake at house will go dangerous far more shortly, so be sure to retailer them within the fridge and eat them inside a number of days.

5. Pie

Everybody breathe a sigh of aid: You might have loads of time to eat leftover pie. The USDA says that cream-based pies like pecan and pumpkin must be saved within the fridge instantly as soon as they’ve had an opportunity to chill. Simply be certain that to shine the remaining slices inside three to 4 days. In the meantime, berry pies may be saved at room temp for one to 2 days, or as much as seven days within the fridge. There is a little bit of a debate in terms of how lengthy pies can final within the freezer, however the basic consensus appears to be about 4 to 6 months.

Simply be sure to comply with those self same reheating guidelines we talked about for the savory Thanksgiving dishes.

See how a dietitian fills her Thanksgiving plate:

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