By Chef Selwyn Richards
It never fails that on Thanksgiving Day, our eyes and appetites seem to be bigger than our stomachs. We usually end up having to do jumping jacks or waiting for another day to eat more of that scrumptious meal.
Even when our eyes are screaming “Just one more bite”, our bodies are telling us, “There’s no room for even one more crumb.” Ah, the drama that goes on within us, when it comes to food.
So, how do you make sure the Thanksgiving Day leftovers are safe to eat tomorrow?
Most people think that food will keep as long as they need it to, thanks to the miracle of refrigeration. Unfortunately, that is not so. Food has to be properly stored after dinner, so that it is fit to eat the next day. Here are some guidelines for handling those Thanksgiving Day leftovers so that they are fit to eat another day.
First of all, leftovers do not have an indefinite shelf life. As a general rule, leftovers kept in the fridge for more than four days, pose a potential poisoning hazard to whoever eats it.
Bacteria are small little guys that no one can see with the naked eye. Condensation buildup on the inside of a container can cause bacteria to grow. Despite the fact that the food doesn’t smell, the age of the leftovers makes them dangerous.
During the Thanksgiving holiday, a little food poisoning can ruin the entire week. Once food is cooked and ready to eat, don’t let it sit more than a couple of hours at room temperature. Some wait until they are ready to turn in for the night to clean things up, but by then, the food has sat too long without refrigeration and the chance of harmful bacteria growth is extremely high.
If you bake the bird with stuffing inside, remember to remove the stuffing before storing the turkey or chicken in the refrigerator. With the stuffing still inside, the food will take too long to cool or will cool unevenly. The inside cavity of the turkey or chicken will remain warm and ripe for harmful bacteria to grow.
Containers used for storing gravy, rice, vegetables, and other side dishes, need to fit the amount of food stored inside of it. For instance, you wouldn’t store a cup of rice in a half gallon container even if it was the last one left. The rice would survive better wrapped in aluminum foil. The less air you have inside the container, the better for all concerned. Also, leave room around the outside of the container for air to flow and evenly cool the contents.
Eating turkey and stuffing the next day is even better than on Thanksgiving Day. In order to make sure everyone gets a belly full and not a belly ache, store your leftovers in a safe manner. You’ll be glad you did.
Selwyn Richards is an award-winning master chef. He is also the President and Executive Chef at The Art of Catering Inc. and is the author of “The Art of Cooking: Soul of The Caribbean”. Chef Selwyn can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone — (905) 619-1059.