Special Report: Tips for Keeping Holiday Leftovers Safe

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holiday dinnerAs you begin the long holiday weekend, I want to remind you of some of the basics for insuring that the food you serve remains safe to eat.  After all, this is the time of year to enjoy friends and family and good food is a part of the overall experience.  No one wants to have digestive distress any time of the year and especially now, so keep these points in mind as you serve up the holiday feast.

And note:  I speak from experience after ending up in the hospital after eating unsafe food one New Year’s Eve about ten years ago.  So follow along as I share some tips for keeping holiday leftovers safe.

Everybody loves those leftovers

The most important thing that you can do to insure that your leftovers are bacteria free is to refrigerate them promptly.  Food-borne bacteria can grow within two hours of being placed on the table so why take a chance?  Remove uneaten food from the table and please, store it in the refrigerator as soon as you can.

If you want to share, package up some of those refrigerated leftovers immediately before your guests leave.  Don’t package the food and let the packets sit on the counter for hours before they go on their way.

How long are your refrigerated leftovers safe to eat.  Three or four days is a good rule of thumb.

holiday turkey dinnerTips for reheating leftovers

When reheating leftovers, make sure they reach a temperature of at least 165° F. This is especially true for stuffing’s that have started life inside a turkey.  Sauces and gravies should be reheated by bringing them to a rolling boil.

Afraid that your reheated food will get dry and tasteless?  Something I do is add a small bit of water to the pan then cover my leftovers with a lid or foil.  This does two things.  It adds a bit of moisture to replace what was lost during refrigeration or freezing and also, it creates a small bit of steam that helps insure that the food gets heated all the way through.

It is safest to thaw frozen leftovers in the refrigerator before cooking but if time is short you can still cook your food from the frozen state.  Just be sure to insert a thermometer (such as this inexpensive instant thermometer) to make sure the center is cooked to at least 165° F – no icy half cooked insides wanted.

And of course if your leftovers do not pass the sniff test or if they look funny (what is that fuzzy stuff growing on my green beans?), throw them out.

The Final Word

For a lot of us oldsters, these tips are second nature.  Still, in the spirit of being hospitable, it is easy to lounge around the holiday table chatting it up and forgetting that the leftover food needs to be refrigerated within an hour or two.

Boring as it may be, take heed of these tips and you will have gone a long way towards avoiding getting sick during this festive time of year.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!


Bargain Bin: As the year winds down, I thought it would be fun to share again the top sellers for 2011.  I am not quite sure what the top sellers for 2012 will be (although I suspect the number one item will be the Streamlight 73001 Nano Light Miniature Keychain LED Flashlight).

Lodge Logic 12-Inch Pre-Seasoned Skillet: Cast iron items were at the top of the list. My readers love cast iron and so do I. Also at the top were Lodge Set of 2 Pan Scrapers and the Lodge Max Temp Handle Mitt.

All New Square Foot Gardening: I put in a Square Foot Garden a couple of years back and was pleased with the results. It is not too early to start planning for spring planting.

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day: The Discovery That Revolutionizes Home Baking: At an average cost of 50 cents a loaf, this bread is easy, delicious and inexpensive to make.

Healthy Bread in Five Minutes a Day: 100 New Recipes Featuring Whole Grains, Fruits, Vegetables, and Gluten-Free Ingredients: Ditto.

How to Live on Wheat: Everything you need to know about wheat.

Emergency Mylar Thermal Blankets (Pack of 10): For less than $8, this pack of 10 is a great deal. Free shipping too.

Fiskars 7855 8-Inch Hatchet: The Fiskars products are easily sharpened and will last a lifetime. For less than $25, what is not to like? Oh, and while you are at it, you might also like the Fiskars Axe & Knife Sharpener for an additional $10.

Kaito Voyager KA500 Solar/Crank Emergency AM/FM/SW NOAA Weather Radio: A lot of different hand crank radios were sold but this was by far, the most popular.

MAGLITE XL50-S3016 LED Flashlight: I own a number of these. Small, sturdy, and easy to handle.

Sabre Compact Pepper Spray with Quick Release Key Ring: The portability of this pepper spray adds to its appeal since it can be easily carried on a key ring or in a handbag or backpack.

The Dukan Diet: 2 Steps to Lose the Weight, 2 Steps to Keep It Off Forever: Survival Husband lost over 10 pounds in two weeks on this diet.

The Prepper’s Pocket Guide: 101 Easy Things You Can Do to Ready Your Home for a Disaster: Written by Bernie Carr at the Apartment Prepper blog, this is highly readable guide to all things preparedness.

50 – 1 Gallon (10″x14″) Mylar Bags & 50 – 300cc Oxygen Absorbers: A staple for long term food storage.

Rothco 550lb. Type III Nylon Paracord: As far as I am concerned, paracord ranks up there with duct tape and zip ties. I wish I had know about this stuff years ago.

For December, Emergency Essentials has a special sale on Freeze-Dried Chicken Breast Dices. The price is $27.99 which is 34% off the regular price of $42.95. Other specials include these favorites:

Red Feather Butter – $6.49
Shortening Powder – $3.79
Cinnamon Apple Slices – $6.49
Gamma Seal Lids – $6.49 (great to use with those free buckets, right?)


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Need something from Amazon (and who doesn’t)? I earn a small commission from purchases made when you begin your Amazon shopping experience here. You still get great Amazon service and the price is the same, no matter what.

And just in time for the holidays, Amazon has a cool new promotion that can help you find great gifts for the holidays. It is called Shop Amazon – Most Wished For Items. This is great because when you go to the page it gives you a quick category overview, if you are looking for fashion, electronics, toys, etc., you can go right there first. This is a great tool to find gifts, but it’s also a great way to find products that people are ‘wishing” for and this way you know what the top products are.

Shop Amazon Tactical – Great Selection of Optics, Knives, Cases, Equipment
Amazon’s Most Wished For Items in Sports and Outdoors

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