food safety tips for leftovers
Whether it's a doggie bag from your favorite restaurant, last night's meat loaf or an extra carton of takeout food, leftovers find their way into our mealtime repertoires. And let's face it—most of us love leftovers. Not only does the food often taste better the next day (thanks to flavors melding together), but busy cooks get a night off. Here are guidelines to properly store and reheat last night’s feast:
- Refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours.
- Cool leftovers quickly. Before refrigerating or freezing, slice large cuts of meat and store in serving-size packets. Use small containers to store stews and chilis.
- Label leftovers with the date.
- Check the refrigerator once a week and discard old leftovers. When in doubt, throw it out!
- Reheat leftovers until piping hot all the way through.
- To ensure even reheating in a microwave oven:
- Cover food with a vented covering.
- Rotate food halfway through cooking time.
- Stir food halfway through cooking time (even if oven has turntable).
- Stir food again after cooking is completed.
- Allow food to stand for five minutes after cooking.
- Never reheat leftovers in a slow-cooker. The gradual heating promotes bacterial growth.
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