Leftovers

Handling left over foods

The holidays are coming and we really need to be prepared to handle left over foods.

Sometimes we just don’t think holiday leftovers will make you sick. Get ready. Here comes my lecture.

Leftover food should definitely have its own agency of the government with inspectors making unannounced checks at homes. Maybe someone will come up with a computer program attached to your refrigerator so any leftover food in the refrigerator for more than four days sets off a siren that won’t stop until the food is discarded. Something has to be done!

I love my wife and boys, but when it comes to leftovers, they are in need of serious training in food handling. My wife loves those plastic containers that have lids and bottoms that never match and can’t be stored properly, always falling out of the cabinet when you open it. The leftover test for those containers are when you can see blue through the plastic it’s time to throw the food out.

I like plastic re-sealable bags; at least when the food is beyond saving, you can throw the whole thing out. By the way, the re-sealable bag was started in 1951 and it was named Flexigrip. In 1968, plastic zipper bags were developed by Dow Chemical and Ziploc was born.

Unfortunately, it did nothing to protect food in my family. I teach food safety so you’d think my family would listen. I find fast food bags in the refrigerator all the time with pizza, chicken wings, tortilla chips and cheese, and some foods I can’t identify, which is a little strange since I am a chef. They all seem to think pizza has a shelf-life of weeks or until it is too hard to chew.

It made me develop a hard and fast rule at home, “When in doubt throw it out.” I throw out everything! Since my family won’t listen, maybe I can help your family with a few tips.

•Divide large amounts of leftovers into small, shallow containers for quick cooling in the refrigerator. Reheat thoroughly to a temperature of 165 °F or until hot and steaming. Soups and gravies should be brought to a rolling boil.

•Use refrigerated leftovers within three to four days

•Each food is a little different: Vacuum packed deli food 3-5 days; ground hamburger and stew meats 1-2 days; ground turkey, veal, pork and lamb mixtures 1-2 days

•Wash your hands before using and storing all cooked foods.

For great information, search on the internet: “Refrigerator & Freezer Storage Chart-FDA.” You can print out a one-page chart that will be very helpful.

Sorry no recipe this week, I’m too busy throwing out leftovers!

Costa Magoulas is dean of the Mori Hosseini College of Hospitality and Culinary Management at Daytona State College. Contact him at (386) 506-3578 or magoulc@daytonastate.edu.

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