Springtime is officially upon us.
Many families celebrated Easter with loved ones, gathering around the table to share those tried-and-true family recipes. From the spiral sliced ham and deviled eggs to the carrot cake and lemon meringue pies, families enjoyed unique and satisfying traditions passed down through generations.
Once the meal was complete and all the hidden eggs were found, here are some things to remember to keep those leftovers safe.
Use the following guidelines to store and reheat your remaining food items:
If you chose to hard-boil eggs before the Easter egg hunt, those are only safe to eat one week after cooking. And the eggs should be stored at or below 40 degrees.
Use caution if you chose to hide dyed eggs near dirt, pets or other potential sources of bacteria. Those eggs should not be consumed.
Even Grade A eggs with clean shells have the potential to contain salmonella enteritidis, so take care in cooking them thoroughly before consumption.
Ham including spiral sliced
These leftovers may be stored in the refrigerator for three to five days or frozen for one to two months. Remember, keep your refrigerator at or below 40 degrees and your freezer at or near 0 degrees.
Date labeling is also important and can be help determine the best consume-by date.
To reheat cooked hams, set the oven temperature no lower than 325 degrees. Heat ham to an internal temperature of 165 degrees, then use a food thermometer to measure the temperature. Remove any potential pathogens that could contaminate the food.
Reheat a spiral sliced ham for 10 minutes per pound. Cover with heavy duty aluminum foil to prevent drying out.
Leftover casserolesor covered dishes
If leftovers or perishable items were sitting out at room temperature for more than two hours, disposed of them.
Wrap leftovers well and store in airtight containers. This helps keep out bacteria as well as retain moisture.
Leftovers can be left in the refrigerator for three to four days or frozen for three to four months.
It is safe to reheat leftovers without thawing first. All leftovers should reach an internal temperature of 165 degrees.
If you use a microwave, rotate the food for an even reheating. Microwaves can often leave ‘cold spots’ in the food and allow bacteria to survive the reheating process.
While you may be thinking, “Who has leftover dessert? That should be the first thing to go,” you may have been too full from the main course to indulge just yet.
However, keep the two-hour rule in mind before taking that first bite. If the dessert contains any type of egg mixture, such as custard, bacteria can quickly multiply due to the moisture. These items should be refrigerated until ready to use and not left at room temperature longer than two hours.
Consider these guidelines to take the guesswork out what is still safe to eat and what needs to be tossed out. That way, you can continue to enjoy celebratory time with friends and family.
After all, Easter is the only time of year you can put all your eggs in one basket.
Sources for this column are from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Partnership for Food Safety Education and the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension
Carin Booth is the family and consumer sciences agent at the University of Georgia Cooperative Extension Office in Hall County. She can be reached at 770-535-8293 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Her column runs on a monthly basis.