Time’s up on your Thanksgiving leftovers, so eat it or dump it, pal

hand holding tupperware full of food in front of microwave
Photo: BRETT STEVENS (Getty Images)

It’s been four days since Big Ol’ Turkey Day, and according to the United States Department of Agriculture (better known as the USDA), it’s now time to finish your leftovers or freeze them, buster!

Today’s more or less the last safe day to enjoy them or archive the food in your freezer for later, that is, if you’ve got any left, reports WSFA12 News in Montgomery, Alabama. If you were operating under the USDA’s prescribed food safety guidelines (I see some of you looking looking awfully guilty right about now), you’d have put your leftovers away within two hours of cooking them. You really want to minimize the time the food remains in the danger zone, which is between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. (This is also something I learned from the food handlers certificate course in my restaurant job.)

By now most of you have probably finished those leftovers, but if you’re looking for some ideas, we polled some chefs on what they do with their leftover turkey, from delicious lettuce wraps to stuffing bowls and soup. Or, there’s always puff pastry.

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According to the Mayo Clinic, food poisoning can occur even when the food doesn’t smell bad, so it’s better to be safer than sorry when it comes to gambling on old food. The safest way to eat leftovers is heated on the stove or in the microwave to 165 degrees. Slow cookers aren’t an ideal way to reheat food as they might not actually get to the temp you need for it to be safe. Now, are most of you going to break out your food thermometers to double check? Probably not. But now that you’re armed with the proper knowledge, you know how not to give yourself food poisoning.

Staff writer at The Takeout. Also: Saveur Humor Blog Award Winner, professional pizza maker, and insufferable troublemaker.

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DISCUSSION

Dr Emilio Lizardo

I’m making Turkey Chili tomorrow and you and your government can’t stop me!