How to Store Leftover Food Safely - what a good idea!

instructions on cooling, chilling, storing and reheating leftover food
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I have just read on a site called Read & Digest a post titled Avoid Eating these 4 Leftovers at all cost especially the 3rd one and, whilst I respect what they are saying, I certainly do not agree we should avoid eating them!

In three out of the four leftovers the only problem was the danger of incorrect storage and insufficient reheating. The fourth one is at the end of this post!

According to the article, and completely correct, failing to cool, store and reheat leftovers properly can have dire results.  
They are right, for instance rice ...

How to Deal with Leftover Rice

When saving leftover rice cool it as quickly as possible; I rinse the rice I'm not using immediately under cold running water as soon as it has finished cooking. Once cool refrigerate immediately and make sure it is utterly steaming hot before eating.

It is, however, ridiculous to throw away good food, instead FFS (excuse me!) learn to store and use leftovers properly.

How to Cool Leftovers

Leftovers should be cooled as quickly as possible – aim to have them cool enough to put in the fridge within 90 minutes.  Here are four ways to achieve this …

1.   Decant the leftovers into a cold shallow dish.  Spread the food out so that it has as large a surface area as possible but don’t compress it, it should be loose packed.
2.   Divide the leftovers between several smaller shallow containers and continue as above.
3.   Stir runny dishes such as soup or casseroles frequently to bring the hotter food to the surface to cool.
4.   If possible put the cooling food in a cool (but clean) place, even away from the cooker might help.

Never leave the food out for long periods, don’t leave out overnight.

How to Refrigerate Leftovers

~   The fridge should always be at 5oC or below.
~   As soon as the food is cool enough put it the fridge, uncovered, to allow it to rapidly chill right down. (You could then freeze it if you wish.)
~   When completely cold put it in a clean airtight container, a freezer bag is good, even if you are not going to freeze it.  If using a bag, squeeze out all the air, if a box choose one the correct size for the food so there is not a lot of air in there.

Freezing Leftovers

~   Your freezer should be at -18oC and your leftovers completely cold and carefully stored as above.

How to Reheat Leftovers

See here for specific information on how to reheat different leftover foods but, generally speaking:

~   Use up your fridge leftovers within two days.
~   Always reheat food to piping hot, at least 75oC/165oF and maintain this heat for 2 minutes.
~   If reheating in a microwave stir the food around a couple of times to avoid cold spots.
~   Do, however, remember that foods can be spoiled if reheated to too high a heat, life’s never easy, is it! Make absolutely sure not to boil things! 

Important Point about Leftovers

This post is all about storing leftovers, but I want to make a very important point.

leftovers can inspire a new meal, a snack or a cook's treat

This is why I have written a whole book of creative ways to use up leftovers. It is called Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers and that is no coincidence!  As it says in its subtitle it is An Inspiring A – Z of Ingredients and Delicious Ideas. 

ultimate recipes and tips for leftover foods
Great Preview Here!

This is actually the second edition of my book which was previously known as The Leftovers Handbook.

Oh, and this is the leftover I am not sure about …

Leftover Vegetable Oil

According to the Read & Digest reheating polyunsaturated oil that contain linoleic acid releases a toxin that has been linked to all sorts of problems such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s, some cancers and more.  They may well be right, I am not going to get into this as it is not something I know much about. 

Used cooking oil is one leftover that doesn’t even inspire me much!

18 Ways to Use Up "Leftover Wine" ~ Deliciously!

Nice pinnable quote by
Diogenes (412 BC-323 BC) –
 the founder of Cynicism!

When thinking about writing this post I made a note to myself to explain the term “leftover wine” but I just can’t – it seems to be an oxymoron. I suppose it could happen so if, inexplicably, you do have leftover wine here are my thoughts and ideas.

Leftover Wine Generally

~  My first idea ~ if it’s still good enough to drink, drink it!

~  Freeze it!  Do so in ice cubes and you have a ready to use “splash of wine” to add to your cooking as and when you need it.

~  Add to a pan sauces. These quick, easy and delicious sauces certainly benefit from a bit of vino. 

~   Similarly stir into gravy. See my easy way to make real gravy here and act accordingly.

~   Braises, Stews and Casseroles all take kindly to a little wine. 

~  Add a little wine at the start of cooking risotto – apparently it should be lightly warmed so as not to shock the rice when adding to the pan! 

Wine Vinegar

Sometimes wine turns to vinegar without any help at all but here are a few guidelines so as to have a better chance of success.

a bottle of organic vinegar
2 sterilised jam jars
leftover wine

The reason I say organic vinegar is that this is more likely to contain strands of vinegar ‘mother’ in it.

~  Put 2½ cm of the vinegar into each jar and allocate one for white wine and one for red.
~  Pour leftover wine into the appropriate jars and cover with cheesecloth secured with a rubber band.
~   Store at room temperature topping up with leftover wine as it occurs, the liquid in the jars will evaporate so it is important to keep adding to it.
~  After about a week test the vinegar and as soon as it tastes good to you it is ready to use.

If a new vinegar mother has formed in the jar use it to start a fresh batch.

Leftover Red Wine

Chorizo in Red Wine – this is a delicious way of cooking chorizo and delicious on toast with a little Boursin!  

~  Make a Gastrique, this is a useful reduction of wine, sugar and water which adds a great boost to dishes, and is also great drizzled over blue cheese, added to pan juices.  Once you’ve made your gastrique you can then make ...

~  Caramelised Wine Vinaigrette – whisk together 60ml red wine gastrique and 120ml olive oil, add a squeeze of lemon juice and season to taste.
Wine Glazed Shallots – these are lovely as a side to cheese, steak etc. and good on pizza. 

Pears Baked in Red Wine

6 not quite ripe pears ~ Comice are particularly good
250ml red wine
50g cold butter
100g soft light brown sugar
1 cinnamon stick

~  Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/180ºC fan/gas 6.
~  In an ovenproof dish of size to hold the pears snugly in one layer, melt together the wine, butter and sugar.
~  Peel the pears and add to the pan turning to coat.
~  Add the cinnamon stick.
~  Cover the pan (foil will do) and bake for half an hour.
~  Remove from the oven and turn the pears in the juices.
~  Cover and continue baking till soft and tender - about 40 minutes.

Serve warm with clotted cream or ice cream.

Mulled wine syrup is the best way of making mulled wine and very useful to have in the storecupboard –   

Leftover White Wine

~  Make a spritzer – just a little white wine topped up with sparkling water.

Fromage Fort is a French potted cheese which uses leftover cheese and leftover white wine! 

French Onion Soup, somewhat surprisingly, is made with white wine. 

~  White Wine Vinaigrette – substitute white wine for some or all the vinegar in the basic vinaigrette recipe here and adjust the flavour with honey and lemon juice. 

Onion, White Wine & Parmesan Tagliatelle – serves 4

 3 x 225g onions
45g butter
60ml dry white wine
500g dried tagliatelle
45g freshly grated Parmesan
freshly ground black pepper
a handful of chopped parsley

~   Cook the onions my favourite way till utterly tender.
~   Add the wine and simmer till it has disappeared.
~   Cook the tagliatelle in plenty of salted boiling water.
~   Drain and toss with the winey onions and grated cheese.
~   Taste and season using plenty of pepper then toss together with the parsley so that it looks as good as it tastes

Lots of ideas and recipes for using up leftovers of all sorts in my book Creative Ways to Use Up Leftovers