6 Must-Know Food-Safety Tips for Leftovers
Some may argue that the best part of Thanksgiving is the day-after sandwich filled with leftovers and laden with gravy. We've put together some notes to keep your turkey-day leftovers extra fresh, so you can enjoy those sandwiches all weekend long.
However, food-storage know-how is important all year long. According to The Huffington Post, Americans throw away nearly half of their food. This amounts to an annual loss of nearly $165 billion dollars. In order to use all of the food that you buy, it's imperative to know the best and safest ways to store it. That's why we've put together a handy guide with special instructions for each type of food in your fridge. Scroll through to freshen up on your food-safety tips.
Store all dairy products in the refrigerator. Soft cheeses do best when kept in airtight containers. Hard cheeses, once opened, do better when wrapped in wax or parchment paper and stowed in a resealable plastic bag. Milk and yogurt can be frozen, so stock up on these staples when they’re on sale. Bad news for all of you soft-butter lovers: Keep your sticks in the fridge, please. They last for three months when refrigerated and six months when frozen. A hard cheese block is good for up to four months in the refrigerator, while grated cheese reaches its max after one month. Soft cheeses are more temperamental. Toss your goat cheese, brie, and other creamier picks in the garbage after a week if opened and two weeks if unopened. Never freeze your soft cheese.
It’s best to buy seafood the day you want to cook it, but in case you’re shopping ahead, know that refrigerated fish, whether it’s lean like petrale sole or fatty like salmon, lasts for two days. Never freeze fatty fish, because it becomes mushy when thawed. When cooked, shrimp can last for three days in the fridge, so that is your safest seafood option if you want to cook your meals in advance.
Baked goods should always be stored in an airtight container. All baked goods containing dairy products, like carrot cake, pumpkin pie, and red velvet cupcakes, should go in the refrigerator. Baguettes and other bakery-style breads should remain in their original packaging. Storing baguettes in airtight bags will cause the crust to turn soggy. However, storing a baguette in the pantry has a one-day shelf life. You can freeze your baguette for up to three weeks. Sandwich bread lasts four days when kept in the pantry and two weeks when stored in the fridge. Surprisingly homemade nondairy baked goods such brownies have a different shelf life than their storebought alternatives. Homemade baked goods last for five days in the pantry, whereas supermarket-purchased nondairy baked goods last for up to two weeks.
Keep fruit that still needs to ripen on the countertop. Refrigeration stunts their maturation. Some fruits, like apricots and avocados, ripen more quickly when stored at room temperature in a paper bag. We prefer biting into crisp, cold apples, so Granny Smiths usually go in our fridge. When kept in the fridge, apples can last up to three weeks. Bananas on the countertop are good for up to five days, however, they can be frozen for baking or ice cream-making purposes after they've hit their countertop expiration date.
The best way to keep your greens vibrant and fresh is to wash them, towel dry them, and then wrap them loosely with a damp paper towel before sealing in a plastic bag or glass container. Since bacteria can easily develop, never keep prepackaged salad mixes past the expiration date noted on the bag. For fresh lettuce, like from the farmers market, you can store in a damp paper towel for up to five days. Alfalfa sprouts have a shorter life span, maxing out at three days.
It’s best to keep meat and poultry in their original containers. If you plan on freezing your protein for several months, wrap each cut individually and then put them in a sealed freezer bag. This will reduce the possibility of freezer burn. Most meats last for two to three days in the fridge and four to six months in the freezer. Cold cuts last for up to five days in the fridge and two months in the freezer.
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How do you store your Thanksgiving leftovers? Share with us in the comments!