How long are Thanksgiving leftovers safe to eat?

November 29, 2021

If your turkey lurks for just a little too long in your refrigerator, is it still okay to eat it? And what about stuffing, cranberry sauce, pie, and all your other holiday favorites?

All cooked leftovers should be refrigerated or frozen within two hours after preparation, according to the Food and Drug Administration. And as a general rule of thumb, leftovers should be eaten or thrown out four days after refrigeration. If you freeze your food, it can last from two to six months, reports HuffPost.

In addition to taking food safety into account, these recommendations also consider the quality of your food. In other words, leftover turkey tastes pretty rank after a week, even if it doesn’t give you food poisoning.

If you’re craving more specifics besides “no longer than four days,” here’s what the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service suggests:

  • Discard any turkey, stuffing, or gravy that’s been left out at room temperature for longer than two hours, or one hour in temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Divide leftovers into smaller portions. Refrigerate or freeze in covered shallow containers for quicker cooling.
  • Use refrigerated turkey, stuffing, and gravy within three to four days.
  • If freezing leftovers, use within two to six months for best quality. Turkey, specifically, will last for four months in the freezer.

As for desserts, in general, fruit, pumpkin, pecan, custard, and chiffon pies can be safely stored in the refrigerator for three to four days, according to FDA guidelines. But many pies ― especially fruit ― are best eaten within just a couple of days.

Essentially, you have until the Monday after Thanksgiving to enjoy your delicious leftovers from the fridge. After that, chuck ’em.

Research contact: @HuffPost

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