Limits of Leftovers
Having leftover turkey and other dishes means you can have additional tasty meals the day after your feast. But there are limits on how long you can safely keep leftovers.
Temperature and time cause bacteria to grow, which is why it is so important your refrigerator be cold enough and you not keep leftovers too long. Even when refrigerated properly (at 40 °F), leftovers should be eaten, frozen or discarded within 3 to 4 days. When heating and storing leftovers keep the following in mind:
- Refrigerate cooked leftovers promptly - within 2 hours. Use an appliance thermometer in your refrigerator to ensure your refrigerator is at 40 °F or below.
- Divide leftovers into smaller portions and store in shallow containers in the refrigerator.
- Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Reheat cooked leftovers to 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Sauces, soups and gravies should be reheated by bringing them to a boil. When microwaving leftovers, make sure there are no cold spots in food (where bacteria can survive). Cover food, stir and rotate for even cooking.
|Product||Refrigerator (40oF)||Freezer (0oF)|
|Fresh Eggs, in shell||3 to 5 weeks||Do not freeze|
|Soups & Stews-vegetable
or meat added
|3 to 4 days||2 to 3 months|
|Fresh turkey, whole||1 to 2 days||1 year|
|Fresh turkey, pieces||1 to 2 days||9 months|
|Giblets||1 to 2 days||3 to 4 months|
|Cooked Meat & Meat Casseroles||3 to 4 days||2 to 3 months|
|Vegetable Casseroles||3 to 4 days||2 to 3 months|
|Gravy & Meat Broth||3 to 4 days||2 to 3 months|
|Cooked Poultry Casseroles||3 to 4 days||4 to 6 months|
|Stuffing, cooked||3 to 4 days||1 month|