How long to keep Thanksgiving leftovers

Home for the Holidays

SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) — Anyone else waking up on Black Friday fueling up with pie for breakfast?

Thanksgiving leftovers are just as important as the main feast for some people. But no matter how much is packed in your fridge now, there’s definitely a time limit to keeping the food around.

The last day you should be eating those leftovers is the Monday after Thanksgiving, according to Wendy Mihm, a director of food safety education at the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Specifically, four days after the food was cooked.

And that’s only if you made sure to wrap it up and refrigerate it before bed. If you leave perishable food out on the counter or table overnight, you should throw it away.

The USDA says bacteria grow rapidly between the temperatures of 40 degrees F and 140 degrees F and all perishable food should be thrown away if left sitting out at room temperature for over two hours.

If you have way too much food to eat over the next three or four days, you can also try freezing it. It will be good to thaw and eat again for three to four months, according to the USDA.

“When reheating leftovers, be sure they reach 165° F as measured with a food thermometer. Reheat sauces, soups and gravies by bringing them to a rolling boil. Cover leftovers to reheat. This retains moisture and ensures that food will heat all the way through,” the USDA said.

Not reheating food properly and leaving it out at room temperature are the two main causes of foodborne illnesses, the agency adds.

For any leftover pre-made desserts, follow the expiration date on the label and be sure to store it as directed.

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