Food Safety: Storing Thanksgiving Leftovers

Store your Thanksgiving leftovers safely and quickly with advice from our experts.

Category:
Thanksgiving
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How long can leftovers be kept in the fridge?

You can store your leftovers in the refrigerator for up to four days. Try to reheat only what you'll be serving at one time rather than reheating the entire portion. It's safe to heat it all and then re-store what you don't use, but the food will continue to lose flavor and moisture the more it's reheated.

Use a thermometer to make sure your leftovers are reheated to 165 degrees F. Sauces, soups and gravies should come to a full boil. If you're using the microwave, cover the food and rotate it frequently to make sure it heats evenly.

What’s the best way to freeze leftovers?

Freezing keeps food safe by preventing the growth of bacteria, which can cause the food to spoil. As long as your leftovers have been frozen at 0 degrees F, you can store them indefinitely. But they'll taste best used within two to three months.

Pack side dishes like stuffing and mashed potatoes into airtight freezer containers or plastic freezer bags. Slice the meat from the turkey and wrap it in freezer paper or foil, then seal in plastic freezer bags (make sure to press out all the air before sealing). Liquids, like soup or gravy, will expand slightly as they freeze, so leave a little space at the top of the container. It's fine to keep leftovers in the refrigerator for a few days before deciding to freeze them, but to preserve their freshness, the sooner they go in the freezer the better. If the food isn't cool already, refrigerate it for a few hours before moving it to the freezer, and avoid stacking the containers until they're frozen solid.

Don't forget to label and date your leftovers. Everything will look the same once it's wrapped.