Preserving Holiday Leftovers
How to Safely Preserve Delicious Holiday Leftovers
Whether it is Thanksgiving, Christmas, or Easter, the best part of all the cooking we do is that we have leftovers for days to come. Yummy leftovers make for easy dinners that allow you spend time with your family instead of in the kitchen. However, it is important to take care of leftover food to ensure it does not cause you or your family to get sick.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) published an interesting statistic saying that outbreaks of a bacteria known as Clostridium perfringens occur predominantly in November and December. It is no wonder as Clostridium perfringens is one of the only bacteria that can grow in already cooked food which is left at room temperature for too long. Clostridium perfringens is a bacterium that can be found in human and animal intestines. However, it can produce a harmful toxin which causes illness. Historically, Clostridium perfringens has grown in holiday dishes such as turkey, roast beef, and gravy which remain warm for too long without being served. Moreover, Clostridium perfringens is the second most common bacterial cause of food poisoning. The symptoms of Clostridium perfringens infection include nausea, vomiting, and stomach cramps. These symptoms generally present themselves within 6 to 24 hours of consuming the contaminated food.
How can this be avoided? It is pretty simple. Do not allow your food to sit at room temperature for more than two hours after taking it out of the oven. Refrigerate all food as soon as possible at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Furthermore, be sure to cut large pieces of meat into smaller portions after taking it out of the oven to allow it to cool quicker. Lastly, use a meat thermometer to ensure that all leftovers are reheated to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
If these precautions are taken you can rest assured that your leftovers can be enjoyed for days without the worry of illness.