The Refrigerator Rules: When to Toss Those Leftovers
Is your leftover pasta sauce growing fuzz in the back of the fridge? Do you still wonder if that last pizza slice is any good? You smell and think, "this seems fine." Well, it's probably not! Everything has an expiration date, and leftovers go bad very quickly, especially when they've been left around for far too long or weren't stored properly to begin with. It's time to say goodbye to last week's dinner leftovers!
We all try to live by the maxim, "waste not, want not." Frugality is fine, but sometimes it's best to do what needs to be done and empty out the fridge of all the bad leftovers. It's not fun to contract food poisoning. Food handling is just as important as feeding your family with healthy food. There's nothing to be afraid of when you follow simple rules for dealing with leftovers.
Here are six specific rules to follow to keep you and your family safe.
The Refrigerator Rules1. Temperature Keep your refrigerator's temperature set to at least 40 degrees. Bacteria loves to grow between 40 and 140 degrees.
2. Cleaning Make sure to wipe up spills as soon as they happen. Clean your fridge with a thorough wipe down every week. Use a solution of half-and-half water and distilled vinegar.
3. Storing Store leftovers in containers with lids. This will prevent spills and cross contamination with other foods that might soon be spoiling or are already spoiled. All leftovers should be stored within 2 hours of cooking or 1 hour on hot summer days.
4. Chilling To chill hot leftovers, place them in shallow covered containers and immerse them in a bath of ice water to cool rapidly.
5. Discarding Toss any leftovers that have sat in the fridge for more than 4 days. Do not rely on smell, taste or sight. But if something is growing on your leftovers, it's definitely a sign to toss.
6. Reheating When you want to eat leftovers that need reheating, be sure to heat them to a temperature higher than 140 degrees.
For the ultimate guide on the shelf life of all food, not just leftovers, check out StillTasty.