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How Long Can You Keep Your Leftovers In The Fridge After Christmas? Experts Weigh In

Middelburg Observer

The most wonderful time of year consists of a table filled with some kind of poultry and meat, mashed potatoes, gravy, cranberry sauce, vegetables, carbonated drinks, wine, and delicious desserts like pumpkin or apple pie.

If that doesn't make you salivate and make you love Christmastime I don't know what will.

It's nearly impossible to not make enough food to feed everyone with all those options on the table.

You can have a handful or dozens of people over and somehow you are always left with a lot of leftovers.

Once everyone is stuffed on the Christmas feast, it's time to pack everything in the fridge and freezer.

But how long will these leftovers last in the fridge before they're putting your family at risk for contamination and food poisoning?

One expert weighs in on the safest storage times for each food.

Aloysa Hourigan, a senior nutritionist from Nutrition Australia, said that food needs to be stored correctly and eaten in a certain amount of time to avoid food-borne illnesses.

"When we think of food safety, there are low and high-risk foods," she said.

These low-risk foods include fruit and vegetables, and high-risk foods contain protein that have moisture in them, like dairy products, eggs, chicken, meat, and seafood.

Holiday Ham

Your Christmas ham can be kept for several weeks in the fridge, but Hourigan advises removing it from its plastic wrap and covering the ham with a clean cloth so it doesn't dry out.

She said if there's no plans to eat it in the coming days, it should be stored in the freezer.  

Roast Pork

Like ham, roast beef is a high-risk food that needs to be covered and stored in the fridge for a maximum of 48 hours, and if it's not eaten until that time, it needs to be moved to the freezer.

"You need to make sure your fridge temperature is set to five degrees or under," Hourigan said.


Similar to the last two, poultry should be kept in the fridge no longer than two days. Hourigan warns that chicken left out in the heat for too long can become contaminated with salmonella and other bacteria.

Also, frozen chicken should be defrosted in the fridge to keep the temperature out of the danger zone.


What most people don't know is that seafood has the shortest shelf life. If it's uncooked it should be kept for a day, and if coked it should be kept for no longer than two days.

"Fresh seafood can be frozen but make sure this is as airtight as possible," Hourigan said. She recommends when thawing seafood to run it under lukewarm water and cooking or eating it soon after.

Roast Vegetables

According to Hourigan, vegetables are less prone to food poisoning, but they still must be covered up for up to three days in the fridge.

Here are a few other helpful tips.

  1. When stacking leftovers, make sure raw meats are not in a position where its juices can drip down onto other foods.
  2. If food has been out of the fridge for more than two to four hours, it's best to eat it, and anytime longer than that food should be thrown out.

[Source: Daily Mail]

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at moojan@shared.com.