So unlike the puppy that followed you home as a child, keeping leftovers in the fridge beyond their prime will make you sick and not just annoy your parents. Well, leftovers in the fridge may annoy your parents as well, but everyone has their own idiosyncrasies and it’s not for me to judge. So how long can you keep things lurking in your fridge? Sure, some things have convenient “best buy” dates written on them. Those are great as a suggestion, but you really should test that milk before tossing it. That date is the legal date that the store can no longer sell it by, and in fact may be fresh for several more days. Let your nose be your guide, but if you’re not 100% sure…. toss it! It is not worth a trip to the emergency room! Here’s a quick guide on how long (on average) some basic foods will last in the fridge:
The following foods will keep only 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator:
- fresh (raw) ground meats and stew meats
- gravy and meat broth
- fresh poultry and fresh fish
These foods will keep 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator:
- cooked meat and meat casseroles
- cooked chicken and chicken casseroles
- cooked fish and fish casseroles
The following will keep 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator:
- opened packages of luncheon meats or deli meats
- fresh meat steaks, chops and roasts
The following foods have longer refrigerator-storage times as indicated:
- fresh eggs in shells — 3 to 5 weeks
- hard-cooked eggs — 1 week
- commercial mayonnaise after opening — 2 months
- opened hard cheese (such as cheddar or Swiss) — 3 to 4 weeks
- soft cheese (such as Brie or feta), cottage cheese, ricotta and milk — 1 week
- yogourt — 1 to 2 weeks
*photo credit from the movie “Rainy with a Chance of Meatballs 2”
So, I got a request for this week’s theme to do a “What the heck am I supposed to do with all these leftovers?!” week. I thought this was a great idea, since it coincides with American Thanksgiving just happening, and there always seems to be little bits of turkey, cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes leftover. Yes, you can always just re-heat and serve, but you just ate all these flavours, and good as they were, it’s boring to keep re-eating the same tastes over and over again. So, let’s see what we can do about re-working those bits and bobs and turning them into great “new” dishes!
So, you went out and bought that HUGE turkey, ’cause everyone says “Don’t worry, we’ll eat it all!” and of course, you now have half of it left. So what’s a chef to do? Well, here are some ideas: Turkey Pot Pie (see today’s recipe), Turkey Chili, Turkey Croquettes (you get to use up extra mashed potatoes with this one too!), Turkey Samosas or even Turkey Gumbo! All of these dishes use up the meat, but with a completely different flavour profile than the original turkey dinner. This way you, and your diners, won’t feel like they’re eating the same ol’ meal, again and again. Remember, don’t throw out that carcass either! It will make an amazing broth, when boiled with some onions, carrots and celery. Even if you don’t need broth at the moment, it’s a great staple to have sitting in your freezer for when you do. Just remember to label and date everything!
Through out the week, I’ll be giving you ideas (and recipes) for different spins on leftovers, some from “Turkey Day” and some from just remainders that you have lying about in the fridge. I will also be giving you some advice on how to properly store your leftovers safely, and when it’s time to say goodbye to those you have lurking in your pantry. Until then, enjoy today’s recipe!