Taking care of leftovers
Barbara Willenberg, former Associate State Specialist, and Jo Britt-Rankin, State Specialist, Associate Professor, Associate Dean, Nutrition and Exercise Physiology, University of Missouri Extension
Cool leftovers quickly
- Leftover perishable foods like meat, fish, poultry and foods containing eggs or dairy products, should be cooled quickly in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Divide large portions of hot food into small, shallow containers.
- Don't cool perishable leftovers on the kitchen counter or let
them sit at room temperature. Warm, moist food is a good place for
food-poisoning germs to grow.
Eat leftovers in three to four days
- Use perishable leftovers within three to four days.
- Freeze them for longer storage.
- Throw out leftovers that smell bad or look moldy or slimy.
- Never taste old leftovers to see if they are safe.
- Heating leftovers that have spoiled will not make them safe.
Some poisons made by food-poisoning germs are not destroyed by heat.
Thaw leftovers in the refrigerator
- Always thaw frozen leftovers in the refrigerator.
- Heat leftovers until they are very hot. A covered pot will keep moisture in and make sure food heats all the way through.
- Bring gravy, soup and sauces to a full rolling boil.
- Leftovers can also be safely thawed in your microwave.
- Cook and serve thawed food right away.
- Don't refreeze leftovers that have been thawed in your microwave.
Last Updated 10/25/2007