Many of us have a fridge full of leftovers that we can’t wait to dig into. USDA food safety expert Meredith Carothers says it’s critical to handle those Thanksgiving leftovers properly.
That starts with getting prepared food back into the fridge within two hours.
“And then the next day, when you actually go to warm up your leftovers, reheat them to an internal temperature of 165 degrees and use a food thermometer to check. That reheating process will help kill any bacteria that might be remaining and make sure that they’re safe to eat,” Carothers says.
Leftovers should always be kept in a sealed storage container or in packaging that’s airtight to keep freshness in and bacteria out. You want to make sure leftovers in the refrigerator are eaten within four days. They can last in the freezer for about three to four months.
Carothers says, “I personally love Thanksgiving leftovers a few months later, when you kind of start missing Thanksgiving, you can pop them into the refrigerator to thaw and then reheat those, and they’re great.”
The oven or microwave are both options for reheating. Just make sure to check the temperature of your favorite leftover dish in a few places to ensure the entire food reached the safe temperature of 165 degrees.
It’s best to break any large leftovers into shallow containers to go into the fridge or freezer.