7 Thing to Remember Before Serving Thanksgiving Leftovers

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Thanksgiving Turkey DinnerThough in style they don't share many similarities, in substance, Thanksgiving and Chinese food share this in common - there's almost always leftovers. Similarly, as good as the various dishes were the day of, they're typically just as tasty - if not better - 24 to 48 hours later.

Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, Canadians countrywide will spend the next several days eating what they couldn't consume on Oct. 14. Some will opt to serve it exactly the way they did then, while others will take advantage of the variety of ways in which Turkey Day re-runs can be served - be them as turkey sandwiches, pot pies, salads, casseroles, chilis or soups.

But serving Thanksgiving leftovers has some level of risk if they're not handled properly. Every year, thousands of Canadians are sickened due to food poisoning. While most of these incidents take place after eating at a restaurant, they can also occur at home, perhaps resulting in a home insurance claim if guests are sickened to the point of requiring medical attention.

With this in mind, the following tips from the Government of Canada should help you properly handle Thanksgiving leftovers, how they should be cooked and when the appropriate time is to throw things out.

  • Make sure hands are clean. Whether its cleaning up the table after Thanksgiving or the next day when leftovers are served, make sure you wash your hand thoroughly, as harmful bacteria can form on the hands after touching surfaces that may not seem unsanitary.

  • Keep leftovers in bags, Tupperware. Food that was initially raw but now cooked should never go back into their original containers. To avoid cross contamination, ensure that what you're using for storage is fresh and unused.

  • Keep like items together. In order to save space, some may think it's best to put everything in one bag, such as the stuffing with the turkey. This is inadvisable, though, because if there is harmful bacteria in one, it could infect the other.

  • Be aware of the food temperature of leftovers. With any luck, you put the leftovers from dinner into the refrigerator soon after the Thanksgiving meal was over. That's because food shouldn't be allowed to sit in room temperature for more than two hours. The "danger zone" for bacteria growth is between 40 degrees and 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

  • Thaw leftovers with caution if placed in the freezer. After a large meal, the last thing you might want to think about having in the days after is turkey and all the fixings. You'll probably be in the mood for it later, though, which is why freezing is a good option. However, it's best to have items thaw in the refrigerator rather than leaving them on the stove top or counter. There's always the chance of bacteria growth in this environment. Additionally, it's easy to forget that the leftovers are out.

  • Make sure microwave properly warms leftovers. To save time and energy, the microwave serves as an ideal alternative to reheating foods on the stove or in the oven. But make sure that you don't sacrifice time for cooking quality. After a two or three minutes on high, use a food thermometer to test the temperature of the food. Turkey should have an internal temperature of about 165 degrees.

  • Don't eat leftovers after several days. Some foods keep better than others and are entirely safe to eat even after 72 hours, depending on how fresh they were when first cooked and how they were stored. If there's any question about quality in the days after Thanksgiving, throw it away. Meat tends to go bad quicker than other foods, so be especially mindful of the turkey.