Ways to keep your Thanksgiving leftovers delicious and safe

Posted at 2:00 PM, Nov 26, 2020

As if we didn't have enough to worry about this holiday season, November and December are also peak months for food poisoning for a certain type of bacteria.

It grows on cooked foods like turkey and beef kept at room temperature.

Consumer Reports says you can keep your favorite holiday foods safe and tasty beyond turkey day by following some advice from health experts.

First, pack any leftovers as soon as possible.

“You need to pack them away sooner than you might think. They should be refrigerated within two hours of cooking regardless of the temperature," Amy Keating, a Consumer Reports Nutritionist said.

Many people leave the turkey out to cool, but that's a big no-no.

“A whole turkey can take a long time to cool down which gives bacteria a chance to multiply," she added.

You can store wings or legs on the bone, but slice off the breast meat when it's time to pack it away. Plan to freeze whatever you won't eat in three to four days.

“To preserve the quality of your food and reduce moisture loss, you want to keep it airtight so use products specifically designed for the freezer, like freezer bags or freezer paper or airtight containers," Keating said.

One thing you don't have to worry about – fruit pies. These can be stored loosely covered on the counter if you're planning to eat it in one or two days. But put that pumpkin pie or any other egg-based custard or pie in the fridge.

It's also better to break down leftovers into meal-sized portions and store them in shallow, covered containers. CR said you can of course eat cooked turkey cold, but if you're reheating it, use the stove and add a little broth or gravy to keep it moist instead of microwaving it, which can give it a weird flavor.