The key to safely saving leftovers after your Thanksgiving meal on Thursday comes from “the two-hour rule.”
That’s according to Putnam Food and Consumer Sciences Extension Agent Michelle Parrott. She said that while people are visiting with loved ones, they tend to forget about the amount of time food is left sitting out, which could lead to issues.
“And it’s simply because that food typically gets in that danger zone temperature between 40 and 140 degrees and that it s where the bacteria could grow and multiply in that dish,” Parrott said.
Parrott said that leftovers left in the fridge are typically good for about four days. She said that if stored in smaller containers in the freezer, leftovers can last up to a month.
Parrott said that the biggest concern when it comes to storing leftovers is the prevention of food-borne illness, especially with perishable items. She said that one item people tend to overlook is the sauce.
“Bacteria can grow in any dish, I will say that. But you do have to be careful with gravies. I think people sometimes forget about gravies and sauces depending on what they were made with of course if you use turkey broth for example. They have a very high potential for (bacteria) growth so you do have to remember to refrigerate those and heat those back up.”
Parrott said that when reheating dishes, they need to reach 165 degrees to be considered safe. She said that if possible, use a meat thermometer to double-check when reheating leftovers.