Safe or sorry? Find out how long your Thanksgiving leftovers will keep

With Thanksgiving dinner in bellies, dishes washed and naps in front of the television underway, the age-old question arises again.

How long will this keep?

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Taste of Home compiled the following handy chart of Turkey Day favorites and how long each stays safely edible, either refrigerated or frozen.

  • Cooked turkey: 3-4 days refrigerated; 2-3 months frozen
  • Raw turkey: 1-2 days refrigerated; 1 year frozen
  • Stuffing: 4 days refrigerated; 1 month frozen
  • Gravy: 1-2 days refrigerated; 2-3 months frozen
  • Green bean casserole: 4 days refrigerated; freezing not recommended
  • Cranberry sauce: 2 weeks refrigerated; 2 months frozen
  • Mashed potatoes/yams: 5 days refrigerated; 1 year frozen
  • Pumpkin pie: 4 days refrigerated; 2 months frozen
  • Apple pie: 3 days refrigerated; 2 months frozen
  • Bread: 5 days refrigerated; 3 months frozen

Meanwhile, Food Network delved a little further into proper storage and timelines for ensuring Thanksgiving leftovers do not go to waste. A sampling of those tips include:

  • All leftovers, which should be packed up immediately following the meal, should be placed into small containers and resealable plastic bags – the smaller the container, the better.
    • Remove any stuffing from the turkey cavity and store separately.
    • Splurge, if possible, on freezer-specific storage bags, wraps and containers that are thicker and “better suited to stave off freezer burn.”
    • Perishable items such as salads should be tossed immediately, but hearty greens, such as kale and cabbage, will keep for as many as three days.
  • No later than the day after Thanksgiving, all turkey, casseroles or cooked grains should be frozen in size-appropriate containers and can keep for up to three months.
    • Rolls, which keep about three months in the freezer but are best enjoyed within the first month, should be wrapped in foil, then plastic wrap, “so the rolls can go straight into a preheated oven once the plastic wrap is removed.” The wrapped rolls should be stored in plastic bags with all the air forced out to minimize the risk of freezer burn.
    • Shred leftover meat before freezing for use in future stews or casseroles.
    • Freeze casseroles by dividing into individual or family-size portions; wrap them first in foil and then in plastic wrap; store in freezer-proof resealable plastic bags with the air pressed out.
  • Roasted, steamed or fried vegetables should be consumed immediately.
  • Freeze any food prepared in a sealed crust, such as dumplings, ravioli or croquettes, on a baking sheet and then transfer them to a freezer bag to store for up to one month.
  • Baked casseroles, such as gratins or lasagna, should be stored in the freezer within five days of Thanksgiving.
  • Although pies can be frozen, it’s better to consume them immediately because freezing can alter the pastry’s texture.
  • Any frozen leftovers with signs of freezer burn at one month or beyond should be tossed.
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