If, like us, you participated in street parties for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee last weekend, you probably found that there was plenty of food left over. The question is: what happened to it? Did you just tip it away into the bin, or did the occasion sweep you along in a 1950s ‘waste not want not/ rationing’ wave of nostalgia?
The fact is that eating up leftovers can be a great way of making food go further, provided that it is stored and cooked properly. The FSA has issued some simple guidelines to using leftovers safely as part of their ‘Food Safety on a Budget’ theme for Food Safety Week. These include:
Storing leftovers in the fridge
If you are going to store leftovers from a hot meal in the fridge, cool them as quickly as possible (ideally within 90 minutes), then cover them and place in the fridge. You should also make sure that you eat them within 2 days.
If your plan in to freeze the leftovers, cool them first. Once the food is in the freezer it will keep safely for a considerable amount of time. However it’s advisable to consume the food within 3 months as after that time the quality will begin to deteriorate.
Always make sure that frozen leftovers are defrosted properly. This can be done in the fridge overnight or in the microwave if you intend to cook them straightaway.
Cooking leftover food
Leftover food should be cooked within 24 hours of defrosting and should be heated until they are steaming hot throughout. To avoid the possibility of food poisoning you shouldn’t reheat leftovers more than once.
If the food had been cooked prior to freezing, then on no account should you refreeze it. If you don’t manage to consume it within 24 hours of defrosting, then it should be thrown away.
If the leftovers you froze were raw, you can defrost them, cook them and refreeze them.
Of course, when you’re storing leftovers in the fridge, or preparing any type of food, you need to be conscious of the dangers of cross-contamination. Our Food Safety Level 2 online course will provide a thorough understanding of the do’s and don’ts regarding food safety and hygiene. To find out more click here.