Mar 1, 2008

Storing Leftovers

It's important to store leftovers in the proper manner. First of all, make sure you have sturdy airtight containers and do not leave anything in an opened tin can, even with foil or plastic wrap on top. Bacteria can still enter cans because they are not completely sealed. Using airtight containers will keep you from unnecessary spills in the fridge and will help food to taste good days later. Next, the USDA and FDA recommend storing food within two hours. There is no need to wait until hot food cools since that can allow bacteria to grow. The "Danger Zone" for bacteria growth is between 40°F and 140°F. However, is a good idea to separate large amounts of food into smaller, shallow containers to help food cool more rapidly in the fridge. If you have the space, avoid stacking containers or placing them too close together because this can also slow down the cooling process. Make sure that the thermometer in your fridge is set at 40°F and the freezer is at 0°F. Use an additional thermometer if you are not sure the one inside the fridge or freezer is accurate. Date all leftovers and do not use them after four days. Liquids should not be used after two days. If food smells funny or is discolored, throw it out. When reheating, cook food to an internal temperature of 165°F, or at least two minutes in the microwave. Never let food thaw at room temperature; always use the fridge, microwave or cold water to cool down food.

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