You may be asked: How long is it safe to store leftovers in the refrigerator? Is it safe to eat that meat found in the back of the freezer? How long is too long to store home-canned jars of vegetables?
Cold Food Storage
The best way to ensure that cold foods are kept safely is to purchase two refrigerator/freezer thermometers. Keep one in the refrigerator and one in the freezer. This way you can make sure that you maintain foods at safe temperatures: 40 °F or lower in the refrigerator, and 0 °F or lower in the freezer. Foods in the refrigerator will begin to freeze at 32 °F, so ideal refrigerator temperatures are between 32 and 40°F. Refrigerator/freezer thermometers will also help in case of a power outage, because temperature is what determines whether a food is still safe to keep. Once your refrigerator and freezer are at proper temperatures, then all you will need is information on how long different foods will keep. Of course, if a food looks or smells spoiled, follow the old saying "If in doubt, throw it out!".
The following foods will keep only 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator:
These foods will keep 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator:
The following will keep 3 to 5 days in the refrigerator:
The following foods have longer refrigerator storage times as indicated:
Foods will keep safely in the freezer if stored at temperatures of 0°F or below. However, for best quality follow these guidelines:
Follow these recommended times for storage in the freezer to enjoy the best flavor and texture and to maintain good nutritive value.
Canned Food Storage
Storage does not improve the quality of any food, but the quality of a food will not decrease significantly if it is stored properly and if it is eaten within the recommended time frame.
This information came from HGIC 3520. Safety of Stored Foods. P.H. Schmutz, HGIC Information Specialist, and E.H. Hoyle, Extension Food Safety Specialist, Clemson University. http://www.clemson.edu/extension/hgic/food/food_safety/handling/hgic3520.html
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