Storing Leftovers - Single Servings Blog at - 96592

Single Servings

Storing Leftovers 
May 19, 2009 4:21 pm 
Updated: May 30, 2009 7:15 am
Hi there!

I got this question many weeks back from cyndynnorton (sorry for the delayed response by the way!):

"I really enjoy your column. I've learned a lot. What I need help with or information about is the prepping and storage of food after it is prepped. Is a plastic bag good enough or should some things be stored in water...I guess I'm just not sure. Any feedback would be great."

Great question…I certainly have my own tricks but also wanted to do a little internet search for information to make sure I really knew what I was talking about. Here’s what I found out:
  • Produce. Regarding storing some items in water, I would say that carrots (once they are cut) could benefit from being stored in water. I read that they can keep for two to four weeks, but that you should change the water every four days. There’s more info about storing produce about half-way down this article: Single Servings: Tips Quick Reference.
  • Timing. Leftover food needs to be refrigerated or frozen within two hours of being cooked—one hour if it’s a warm day. And when reheating, it should reach a temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. (Stir food while reheating to be sure it all reaches the right temperature.)
  • Put a lid on it. Cooked leftovers should be stored in small, shallow containers no taller than three inches—covered. You want to avoid putting large amounts of food in one big container because it’s likely the center of the food won’t get cold enough—at which point bacteria can grow.
  • Zip it. I will often use resealable plastic bags for smaller items like leftover pieces of cooked chicken or cooked vegetables—mainly when it just feels a little silly to put it in a bigger container. But I always let food items cool off a little—I never put food straight from the stove into the bags.
  • Breathing room. It’s vital that your refrigerator be able to circulate cool air, so this means you need to keep the fridge’s contents to a minimum, and avoid stacking containers on top of each other. Again, this makes it difficult for food to cool completely through to a safe temperature.
  • One more tip for ya. Here’s an article about freezing food that should help you out: Freezing Foods: A Real Time-Saver.
Hopefully this helps, but if anyone else has any tips for storing food/leftovers, please speak up!

Have a great holiday weekend everyone!
May 22, 2009 8:23 am
Thanks that was helpful. Hope you enjoy the holiday weekend too. Fly your flag!
May 30, 2009 7:15 am
When I buy a pound of bacon, it takes a while to use it up. (Smaller packages are overpriced--I refuse to buy them.) I take the slices and lay them out in a single layer on a piece of baking parchment cut just wide enough for the length of the slices. Then I put another piece of parchment on the top and roll the whole thing up. This goes into a plastic freezer bag with the air squeezed out. You can take out one or two slices at a time. No need to defrost--they cook up just fine from frozen. I've also done this using non-stick aluminum foil.
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I am a 32-year old woman (I still stumble over the word "woman," but I don't think I can get away with "girl" anymore) living in Seattle, WA, writing for the very website you are browsing right now! I am originally from Bellingham (about 80 miles north of Seattle), where I went to Western Washington University, and then just kinda hung out for several more years until I moved south in September of 2006. I've always loved cooking and even had my own little spiral recipe notebook when I was in middle school to collect my star dishes in. (Apple pizza and scones were always a hit with the family—thanks Home Ec.!) I seriously considered going to culinary school when I was twenty, but then decided I didn't want to cook for a living. I’m definitely more of an entertaining cook, as opposed to a professional cook.
My favorite things to cook
I prefer cooking over baking, but I've been branching out more in the past couple years--I made a pie from scratch for the very first time for Thanksgiving 2006 and it was delicious. But, I made a cake from scratch for the first time recently, and it did not go as well. It looked great, but I would not use the word "great" to describe how it tasted. I've resolved to go back to boxed cake mix, and put my efforts into the decoration where I can actually do some good.
My favorite family cooking traditions
People are always surprised when I say that my dad does most of the cooking for holiday meals. "Does your mom get stressed out for Thanksgiving?" people will ask. Are you kidding me? No way! She, my sister, and I are all watching movies while my dad is basting the turkey and making mashed potatoes and gravy. Thanksgiving is probably the most relaxing day of the year for my mom!
My cooking triumphs
Ah, I remember it well ... I was twelve years old; I believe it was a Thursday and there was a chill in the air that night ... I pulled that seafood pasta bake out of the oven oh-so-carefully, and when we sat down to enjoy it ... so cheesy, creamy and seafoody (and I mean that in the very best way)... so very, very, delicious ... though I lost track of the recipe, each bite will live on in my memory forever ... ;)
My cooking tragedies
On my 30th birthday, I set fire to a cookie sheet full of French bread that I had only intended to toast. I had just finished cooking something else when I turned the oven to broil and underestimated how hot the top element already was. Chatting away with a friend, I was completely confused when I saw smoke coming through the burners and it wasn't until my friend yelled, "It's on fire!" pointing to the partially open oven door, that I realized what was happening. I swiftly yanked the baking sheet from the oven, dropped it into the sink, and cranked the faucet. Disaster averted. Moral of the story? Let other people cook for you on your birthday.
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