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How to store leftovers safely this holiday season

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WAUSAU, Wis. (WAOW)- Though experts say there is not a one-size-fits-all approach to storing leftovers, it is important to keep them stored right to avoid waste.

"Put them in smaller containers, put them in shallow containers, creating more surface area for heat to escape," said Registered Dietician Emilie Williamson.

Hot items should be cooked down enough before storage. One way experts recommend cooking them down is using your sink as an ice bath.

"That's a great way to again put cold surface area around warm items helping bring the temperature down so they are cooler before you put them in the refrigerator," Williamson said.

"It you don't get it chilled down properly, once again, you're kind of in that danger zone where the bacteria are really happy to multiply and can get back up to that level that can make you sick," said Jordan Mason, DHS Bureau of Communicable Diseases Expert.

The key is to put the leftovers away soon after the meal to keep them fresh and safer for reheating later.

"Chill the leftovers ideally within two hours after you've served it. Then ideally put it in small amounts in the refrigerator so you can get it cooled down quickly to get it out of the danger zone," Mason said.

When reheating make sure to get the temperature back up to ensure the food is cooked enough to once again kill any bacteria that could have grown.

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