It’s become tradition amongst many families where Christmas dinner leftovers are so vast, they can make another meal at the very least! While it’s extremely rare that you’ll see a stray pig in blanket left over on Boxing Day, there’s always plenty of turkey going – perfect for butties or even a curry!
To make the most of your Christmas leftovers and the rest of the the festive break, it’s important to make sure you keep your food safe to eat. These quick and simple measures can keep your meat fresh and delicious, as well as ensuring you and your family are kept away from the dangers of bacteria.
Cool and store your meats
Your turkey, gammon, goose or any other meat or poultry, should be cooled as soon as possible after cooking. Don’t put it in the fridge straight away as hot food can cause the temperature in the fridge to rise, causing bacteria to grow. Instead, transfer to a cool, clean dish and slice the meat into smaller portions. This will help the meat to cool down fairly quickly.
Make sure that your meat is then stored in airtight containers and refrigerated in the two hours after it has been cooked. Always keep cooked meat away from raw meat. Doing so prevents the likelihood of bacteria growing on the meat, which can cause food poisoning when consumed.
Any cooled leftovers should be consumed within three days, for safe and delicious festive food even after the day is over.
Top Tip: Make sure your fridge is 5°C or lower. The temperature your fridge is set at could surprise you.
Can you freeze or refreeze your Christmas meats?
Freezing your Christmas leftover meat is absolutely fine, as long as you have followed the same cooling process as above. Be sure to wrap the portions separately in cling film, to avoid the chances of freezer burn that can ruin your food.
It’s recommended that you do not refreeze leftover meats that have already been frozen and defrosted. Bacteria is more likely to grow this way, as is your chances of contracting food poisoning.
Reheating your Christmas meats
Before cooking, make sure your food is thoroughly defrosted. If you’re hoping to eat it then and there, you can defrost it in the microwave, using the correct settings. Alternatively, if you’re planning ahead, leave the meat in the fridge to thaw, to avoid the growth of bacteria. This can take longer than leaving it to defrost at room temperature, so bear this in mind when choosing when to take it out of the freezer.
Defrosted meats should be eaten within 24 hours of being thawed. When reheating your defrosted meat, wait until it reaches 70°C in temperature, and continue cooking for another two minutes. By then, the food should be piping hot and rid of any harmful bacteria.
Keep your kitchen clean
A clean kitchen is vital in ensuring that any cross-contamination doesn’t occur. It’s said that the average chopping board has over 200% of faecal bacteria than the toilet seat itself, which comes from failing to clean both yourself and the home effectively. Not only that, but sponges are one of the dirtiest items in the home. This is simply because we don’t tend to replace them for a while, allowing time for bacteria to grow on them.
By wiping down kitchen surfaces down both before and after cooking, you can seriously reduce the likelihood of bacteria sticking to and growing on them. It’s recommended that you use single use wipes, such as those from our Universal Range, that clean and disinfect surfaces at the same time.
Following these simple steps can allow you and your family to continue enjoying the never ending amount of Christmas leftovers you will most likely have, without falling ill and starting the new year happy and healthy.