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!

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