5 Tips for Safely Storing Holiday Leftovers

The holidays are about eating great food... and then feasting on the leftovers. Make sure your leftovers stay fresh as long as possible by following these 5 simple steps.

1) Refrigerate food within two hours of cooking.

Any foods left out longer than two hours run the risk of bacteria growth. So, after dinner, but before dessert, start packing up those leftovers.

2) Divide leftovers into smaller airtight containers.

Before the holiday, make sure the kitchen is stocked with freezer resealable bags and storage containers. Freezer bags are great for leftover meats. For items like sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, stuffing and mashed potatoes store in a shallow container leaving space in the container. This will make sure the food cools properly.

3) Remove food from cans.

If you've used store bought cranberry sauce or gravy and have a bit left over, do not pour it back into the can. An opened can has shards of metal that can fall into the foods and gives the food a metallic taste. Best to cover the vessel they are currently in tightly with plastic wrap.

4) Label and date the food.

Once things are put into a container, everything looks the same. It only takes a few minutes to label the food and it will save a lot of guess work the next day. Simply tear off a piece of masking tape and put it on your container. Then with a permanent marker mark the date and what's inside.

5) Know how long leftovers last.

A turkey and baked ham will last about 3-4 days in the fridge 2-3 months in the freezer. We found a great guide at StillTasty.com that shows how long Thanksgiving and Christmas leftovers last.

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