July 25, 2024

Thanksgiving Leftovers Must Be Discarded or Frozen Today

It’s now four days after Thanksgiving, and that means that all leftovers from that holiday dinner must be discarded or frozen today, according to the USDA. Of course, this is assuming that you refrigerated that food promptly – within two hours of it coming out of the fridge or oven.

Thanksgiving Leftovers Must Be Discarded or Frozen Today

Between the temperature range of 40°F to 140°F, bacteria numbers can double in foods every 20 minutes. And those pathogens can make toxins that aren’t destroyed by heat. So even if you thoroughly reheat leftovers to 165°F, as you should every time, you may still get sick. That’s why we stress prompt refrigeration of perishable foods, including meats, egg dishes, seafood, poultry, casseroles, and cooked vegetables.

To freeze foods, store them in freezer bags or other containers in relatively small quantities so they are easier to defrost. Cut big pieces of meat into smaller pieces. Store soups and sauces in 1-cup amounts or less. And always label the foods you are freezing so you know what you have, and be sure to include the date they were frozen.

Most frozen foods will keep well in the freezer for about a year. The quality may decline, but they will still be safe to eat indefinitely as long as they are safely defrosted.

To defrost leftovers, never let them thaw at room temperature. You should let them thaw in the fridge. Overnight should be enough. You can also thaw them in the microwave, but be sure to stir, cover, and rotate the food so it heats evenly. Some foods can be reheated straight from frozen, including soups and sauces.

Now that you know your Thanksgiving leftovers must be discarded to frozen today, get busy in the kitchen! And enjoy those leftovers in other recipes.

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