Food Refrigeration: Keeping Leftovers Fresh After the Holiday

Keep These Food Refrigeration Tips in Mind After That Big Meal

Everyone loves a Thanksgiving meal, but some people love the leftovers even more. If you’re one of those who look forward to leftovers, then you should know that you’ll never get a chance to enjoy them if you don’t refrigerate them properly. Here are 6 food refrigeration tips to ensure your holiday leftovers remain tasty and safe to eat for as long as possible.

  1. Refrigerate food within two hours.
    Make sure you refrigerate all cooked food within 2 hours of it coming out of the oven or off of the stovetop. That includes time spent at the dinner table. Throw away anything that’s been sitting at room temperature for more than 2 hours.
  2. Check the temperature. 
    Not only should food be refrigerated quickly, but it also needs to be stored at the proper temperature to prevent bacterial growth. Perishable foods should be stored in a refrigerator set to 35° to 40° Fahrenheit. Anything over 40° is considered to be the “danger zone.” Cutting large pieces of food into smaller sizes, and packing leftovers in smaller containers, will help food get to the proper temperature more quickly. Wrap leftovers well.
  3. Wrapping matters.
    Make sure your leftovers are covered, wrapped in airtight packaging, or tightly sealed in storage containers. This protects food from bacteria, keeps food moist and flavorful, and prevents leftovers from picking up odors of other refrigerated foods.
  4. Label leftovers.
    Be sure you label the food containers with the date you put them in the refrigerator. That way, know how many more days it can stay safe and fresh to eat. Here’s how long you can expect some common Thanksgiving foods to last if refrigerated properly:

    • Turkey: up to 4 days
    • Gravy: up to 2 days (but it can be frozen for 2 to 3 months)
    • Cranberry sauce: two weeks
    • Mashed potatoes or yams: up to 4 days
    • Pumpkin pie: up to 4 days
    • Apple pie: up to 3 days
    • Stuffing: up to 4 days
    • Wine (opened bottles): up to 1 month in the refrigerator. Or, up to 1 year or longer in a wine fridge.
  5. Reheat properly.
    Of course, all of these refrigeration tips won’t really matter if you don’t reheat your leftovers properly. Be sure to cover leftovers when reheating them in your oven to help retain moisture and ensure that food will heat all the way through. If you’re reheating sauces, soups, or gravies, then do so in a saucepan on your stovetop and make sure you bring the liquids to a rolling boil for at least 1 minute.

    Reheating leftovers in a microwave is very common, but you want to take special care to ensure food heats up evenly. Arrange your food in a microwave safe glass or ceramic dish, add a bit of water, and cover. The added water will create a bit of steam, which will help the food heat up more uniformly and kill off any bacteria.

    You may also want to consider installing a warming drawer before the holidays. A warming drawer is a separate appliance that uses a low-heat setting to warm up food or keep just-cooked food warm and ready to eat for hours. The temperature levels on a warming drawer don’t typically go higher than 200 degrees Fahrenheit, and most have humidity controls and timers so there’s no risk of food burning, drying out, getting soggy, or becoming overdone.

    Finally, remember that reheating is a once-and-done deal. Anything you don’t eat after you’ve reheated it should be thrown away and never put back into the refrigerator.
  6. Consider a New Refrigerator
    Our last food refrigeration tip is to consider purchasing a new refrigerator before the holidays, especially if your current fridge is a bit older. Today’s refrigerators are spacious, efficient, and have precise temperature controls. Reno’s Appliance has a large selection of refrigerators from top-of-the-line brands including Sub-Zero, Bosch, and Frigidaire in a range of popular styles such as French door, bottom freezer, and top freezer.

By following these simple food refrigeration tips, you can make sure that you have another chance to enjoy your favorite holiday foods. All of us at Reno’s Appliance wish you and your family a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

Reno’s Appliance was founded in 1951 as Reno’s Radio & TV. Since then, the shop has grown to become the one-stop home appliance source trusted by thousands. Reno’s sons continue to carry on the tradition set forth by their father and exhibit exceptional customer service. We have every home appliance you will possibly need. Stop by our showroom in Paterson, NJ to view our selection.