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Your Safe Food guide to Christmas leftovers

We think you’d agree that Christmas leftovers are one of the best parts of the holiday season. The extra turkey, ham, cranberry sauce and veggies will fill your belly for days to come after the big day. So, we want to ensure you enjoy your delicious leftovers without any unintended circumstances (e.g. food poisoning!) due to poor food safety practices.

You are more likely to get food poisoning over the festive period due to a few reasons:

  • The weather is hot here in Queensland!
  • Overloading of the fridge with extra food and drinks
  • You’re cooking for more people than usual

Don’t despair! You will just need to be more mindful of your food safety practices. Here are our top tips.

Christmas leftover food safety

  • Put leftovers away immediately into the fridge, don’t leave them on the table or bench to cool first.
  • Dispose of any high-risk food left in the temperature danger zone (between 5 °C and 60 °C) for more than four hours.
  • Don’t keep leftovers for more than a few days in the fridge.
  • You can freeze leftovers for up to a month.
  • Store cooked leftovers at the top of the fridge, above raw and uncooked foods to avoid cross-contamination.

Turkey, chicken and ham leftovers

Leftover turkey, chicken and ham should be covered and refrigerated immediately.

You can assist in cooling it down quickly by cutting it into smaller pieces.

Eat your leftover meats within a few days or pop them in the freezer. Make sure they are securely wrapped or in suitable containers.

Cheese leftovers

Keep hard cheeses like parmesan or gruyere in the fridge for between two and four months or eight months in the freezer.

Store soft and fresh cheeses like camembert and mozzarella in your refrigerator for up to two weeks. Make sure you keep them in the coldest part of your fridge – usually the bottom drawers.

Keep semi-soft or firm cheeses like cheddar or gouda for 2-3 weeks in the refrigerator. They don’t need to be in the coldest part of the fridge.

Veggie leftovers

Raw veggies have a short shelf life – they’ll go limp quickly! Eat within a day and only if they were stored correctly in the refrigerator within the safe zone of time.

Cooked vegetables last a little longer but this is dependant on the type of veggie. E.g. Broccoli, spinach and other greens won’t last as long as starchy veg like carrots and sweet potatoes. Eat leftovers within a few days.

Seafood leftovers

Seafood leftovers can be kept for two days in the refrigerator but will taste better if consumed within a day.

Recipe inspiration – Christmas leftovers

Christmas isn’t over until you eat the last leftovers – just make sure you’ve followed our tips to avoid a nasty bout of food poisoning over the holidays. Not sure to do with all that extra ham and turkey? We’ve got some ideas for you:

  • Drowning in turkey and sick of sandwiches? Try this turkey risotto for something different.
  • Use up leftover ham and peas in these tasty croquettes, served with a fiery aioli (we suggest you avoid the homemade variety with uncooked eggs in it!).
  • Spice up an Italian classic with leftover ham and any cooked veg with this Christmas carbonara.
  • Served up a big cheese platter over Christmas only to find your fridge stacked full of leftover cheddar, smoked cheese and gruyere? We’ve got the perfect recipe for you! Make this mix and match mac ‘n’ cheese bar.
  • Still got more ham and cheese to eat your way through? Try this simple ham and cheese scone recipe by top chef Daniel Clifford.