How Risky Is It to Eat Questionable Leftovers?

One of the most common questions on cooking sites and forums is whether leftover food should be thrown out. The best advice is to prevent these questions , by learning how to store food properly, estimate quantities, keep track of what you have, and use leftovers creatively.

But what happens if you fear your food has been hanging around for too long? You can look up storage times on various sites, but the recommendations tend to be overly cautious. So much depends on how the food was prepared, and the storage conditions. I suggest using those sites only as a general guideline. If the food looks and smells good, it’s probably safe.

Introduction to Food Storage Containers

Part II: Tips for Choosing the Best Shape for Freshness and Convenience Part III: Best Ways to Organize Your Food Storage Containers My kids like to take leftover casseroles to school. So last night I made a large batch of lasagna with spinach, homemade noodles and marinara sauce. This took a couple of days of […]

How to Cool Food Quickly for Storage

My mother used to cool off food before refrigeration. But the safety guidelines have changed. Thanks to better refrigerator efficiency, and concerns about food spoilage, it’s best to refrigerate foods immediately after cooking. Apparently this poses no danger to the rest of the food in your fridge. But there are times when you will still […]

Friday Review #36

It’s time for a review of posts you might have missed on Cooking Manager. Summer Cooking Healthy and Easy Summer Salads. Leora posted even more summer salad ideas. Some Like It Cold: Summer Soups Cool Summer Cooking Tips Prepare Vegetable Salads in Advance   Recipes: Beets Marinated with Ginger and Garlic Wilted Red Peppers with Garlic   […]

Salvaging Food During an Electrical Outage

Despite living in a major American metropolis, Cooking Manager reader Miriam has been suffering from electrical outages on a regular basis. The most recent one lasted 52 hours, forcing her to evacuate to a friend. She brought along some cheese and other delicate items, but wondered about the rest of the food in her fridge. […]

Nine Tips to Help Food Last Longer

Acquiring good habits and keeping track of what’s in your refrigerator will save you money on your food bill.

Below I share tips to avoid cross-contamination: Don’t inadvertently mix up foods with different “eat-by” dates.

For more information see my chart on storing leftovers, Is This Food Safe to Eat?

1. New package, new spoon. When you open a new container of cottage cheese, use a fresh spoon too. The bits of older food on the original spoon will contaminate the fresh package.

Is This Food Safe to Eat?

Every day WikiAnswers.lists dozens of questions about whether it’s safe to eat the three-day-old quiche, or the raw chicken left on the counter. The problem is that every food is stored under different conditions, and this makes a huge difference in how long it keeps. Published guidelines tend to be conservative. If you follow them strictly you may end up throwing out good food.

I wrote up a list of things to consider when deciding about questionable leftovers. The list will help you think about the type of food and whether it was stored properly. But first, examine the food. Leftover food should always look and smell normal.

The list is also a guide for storing foods carefully in the future. You pay good money for your food, why throw it out because it wasn’t put away properly?

Homemade Mayonnaise

Mayonnaise has a reputation for spoiling quickly. But most people have no problem keeping a jar of store-bought mayonnaise for months. I bet they wouldn’t try that with an open can of tuna or a hard-boiled egg.

The acid of the lemon juice or vinegar keeps homemade mayonnaise from spoiling. I store mine in a plastic container in the refrigerator, usually for several weeks. If the oil separates from the egg you can mix them up again—this doesn’t mean the mayonnaise has spoiled. If you are not sure whether the mayonnaise is okay, leave it for another day or two. Then you will know for sure by the smell. Spoiled mayonnaise develops visible mold or mildew.

School Lunch Ideas

Since starting school last week, my 5 and 8-year-olds have taken sandwiches every day. One likes peanut butter with a little sugar (ugh!) and the other takes soft white cheese and sliced tomato. But in past years we have been more creative than that.

For this post we’ll stick to dairy or vegetarian options.
Sandwich spreads. Experiment with pita, tortillas, and whole-grain breads.

Microwave Myths

How do microwaves work?
Microwaves work by radiating microwave energy into food. This energy only heats up the moisture in food, so dried foods may burn or explode. The waves pass through glass, ceramic, plastic and paper, but metal deflects them.
Defrosting in the microwave.
Do microwaves undercook food?