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BTD Forums  /  Cook Right 4 Your Type  /  What is the truth about heating leftovers or not.
Posted by: JJR, Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 7:41pm
I've been on this quest lately of figuring out proper cleaning, handling of food and all that jazz.  Because I've been a germaphobe lately.  But it's getting better as I understand some of these things better.  

But I'm confused about a lot of things.  When a meat is cooked properly the first time, is it safe to eat cold after putting it in the fridge?  I mean, the whole cold turkey sandwich seems like it's fine.  But I'm just not sure anymore.  All the websites say you get 1-2 hours of it being in the zone of 40-145 degrees before it might start growing bacteria that may harm you.  But then I read somewhere that you should heat your meat back up.  Or what about cooked veggies or grains.  Can you eat them cold? Or do you need to reheat them? I have in the past, but I'm questioning all practices at this point, for the sake of understanding.  

Another frustration I have is the stinking thermometers I get.  They all seem to vary in temperatures, and are sometimes really hard to get a reading on a turkey burger because it's so thin.  And it really bothers me if I can't get a good reading.

And what the heck about fish.  For some reason the idea of touching fish and getting it on something else, like cross contaminating. (frozen fish)  But it seems like all the cooks and everybody seem to not care if it's not over done.  Is fish safer than Poultry?  Then there is the whole thing about poultry, make sure it's nuclear cooked so it won't kill you 180 degrees or whatever.  It kind of worries me.  But for some reason fish worries me more than poultry.  

I'm not saying it's all rationale, but I'm just trying to understand it all, so I don't poison myself or a family member.

And oh yeah, slow cookers are seeming weird since they sit for a while at not a hot temperuature.  I guess maybe you could warm it up first, but I don't think you're supposed to do that with them.  


Aaaaaaaah. Can anybody bring some wisdom and guidance to my questions and help ease my mind?????  

Thank you!!!!
Posted by: jayneeo, Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 8:13pm; Reply: 1
well as long as the slow cooker brings food up to a certain temp its fine, which they do, plus the time is long...all of this is calibrated to work properly.
Your other questions are interesting as my DH and I often debate them. Cooked meat is fine cold...just think of the tradition, European as well as American of bringing cold chicken to a picnic, etc. (not so great with the potato salad though....its the mayo)
Interestingly, in traditional hindu homes, you cook everything up daily and at evening you give the leftovers to beggars, who would wander through for this reason....nothing could be saved overnight, therefore, there was no such thing as leftovers. You can imagine the health reasons for this...India is very hot and for a long time, had no refrigeration. I love their tradition, though, which marries hygiene and charity...! :D
Posted by: JJR, Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 8:25pm; Reply: 2
So does your husband not like cold meats once they're cooked?
Posted by: jayneeo, Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 8:29pm; Reply: 3
sure. but we debate how to cool down big pots of soup or chili.... ::)   I say cool to lukewarm (or cooler) and refrigerate with a lid askew to allow evaporation....he says let the lid cover tightly so no "germs" can get in....!! ::)
Posted by: chrissyA, Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 8:46pm; Reply: 4
Quoted Text
how to cool down big pots of soup or chili...

I put the whole pot in the kitchen sink, then dump in all the ice I have in the freezer around the edges and run enough cold water to reach about half way up the sides of the pot. This cools it down really quickly, but always make sure that your drain stopper is in tightly  :P
Posted by: jayneeo, Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 8:53pm; Reply: 5
good idea.
Posted by: ruthiegirl, Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 10:40pm; Reply: 6
A slow cooker is still hot enough to kill germs. It might not  be as hot as boiling water on your stove, but it's above the threshhold for letting germs grow. It also scalds your fingers if you splash the contents onto your  fingers. A good general rule is that if it's cool enough to touch safely, its' cool enough for germs to grow in there- something desirable if you're making yogurt or quark cheese, but undesirable in leftovers.

I sometimes heat up leftovers,  but only if I think they'll taste better that way, not out of concern for hygeine. The only time I make sure to fully reheat leftovers is with week-old broth. After 7 days, broth is fine. After 10 days, it may or may not be, and after 2 weeks it's garbage- unless it's brought to a boil again after a week, then the timetable restarts. So I'm sure to fully reheat leftover broth, often mixing it with fresher broth, to minimize waste.

For leftover soups, I generally transfer into glass jars, let them sit out (uncovered) for half an hour or so, then cover and refrigerate. I'm afraid to cool them too quickly in glass jars so the glass doesn't break. And if I put the covers on while the soup is still hot, they get vaccuum sealed and it's harder to open the jars later. It won't hurt the jars or the soup any, but I find it to be inconvenient.
Posted by: JJR, Tuesday, November 22, 2011, 11:05pm; Reply: 7
That's a good tip about soup.  I haven't even thought about soups!

what about meats!!!  or veggies.
Posted by: ABJoe, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 4:21am; Reply: 8
I eat any leftovers either way...  

Quite often I'll get a big chunk of turkey off of a refrigerated, roasted bird - sometimes I heat it, but most of the time I don't.

I rarely have left-over vegetables - as I prepare what I want and eat them...

When I use left-over rice, I often warm it up with some broth or steam it.  I seldom eat cold rice, as I don't like the firmness of cold brown rice.  
Posted by: deblynn3, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 4:34am; Reply: 9
There use to be a leaflet by the extension office on how to store food, etc.  It's very handy to have. The rule of thumb is not to leave food out for more than two hour without refrigeration, and the proper temp. of your refrigerator should be 36F.  You should never put so much hot food into your refrigerator to bring that temp. down below that.

Posted by: Possum, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 4:47am; Reply: 10
Quoted from deblynn3
You should never put so much hot food into your refrigerator to bring that temp. down below that.
Umm don't you mean "above that"??

Posted by: Possum, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 4:53am; Reply: 11
I am sure I had read (possibly on here :-/) that if you are reheating meats, you must reheat it rapidly to 80°C/165F or hotter, or else keep below 5 degrees Celsius when reheating ;)

I often have food leftover (usually deliberately) & reheat food most nights of the week... Sometimes I even forget to put cooked food away at night (I usually refrigerate next morning) We don't however live in a very warm climate...;)

My Hunter husband does have a sensitive stomach that most always reacts (for example) if he eats chicken at a restaurant, yet rarely has food I've served sent him to the toilet straight after even if I have reheated it...
Posted by: JJR, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 6:04pm; Reply: 12
You leave food out all night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've heard that you guys do things differently over there.  And aren't any worse for the wear.  There's no way I'd do that.

Joe, that's a good suggestion about the rice and broth.  I've been craving that lately.
Posted by: ruthiegirl, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 6:08pm; Reply: 13
I've never intentionally left food out overnight, but it happens accidentally sometimes. I rarely throw out food that's been left at a cool room temperature ovenight- only if it looks or smells bad.
Posted by: deblynn3, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 7:38pm; Reply: 14
Quoted from Possum
Umm don't you mean "above that"??



I've know people to put in large kettle, or many containers of hot food.  That warms up your refrigerator on the inside. This will raise the temp in your refrigerator. Not good for the foods in already. (milk, cheeses etc) and will make the unit work harder to run.
Posted by: EquiPro, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 8:05pm; Reply: 15
This is only MHO, so please don't flame.

I think that we've really taken all of this overboard in the past 20 years. I sort of feel about this issue the way that I feel about all of the hand-sanitizing that goes on:  By becoming overly precautious about this sort of thing, we are actually destroying our best defense against any bugs that MIGHT be there by lowering our immunity to them AND by increasing our sensitivities.  Sure.  Humans have lived, healthily, for thousands of years without being so particular about this issue.  In fact, in many parts of the world, food that is "ripe" is actually preferred (I know, I've been watching too much Andrew Zimmern lately), and people eat it with absolutely no ill effects.

Yes.  Use common sense.  But I really and truly worry about us continuing to destroy our own natural immunity by being so fastidious all of the time.
Posted by: deblynn3, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 8:37pm; Reply: 16
I agree.  
Posted by: Possum, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 9:03pm; Reply: 17
Quoted from JJR
You leave food out all night!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I've heard that you guys do things differently over there.  And aren't any worse for the wear.
I never intentionally leave food out - sometimes I just forget I haven't finished clearing up... ;) Have not had many tummy bugs in my life (only one I can really remember was from eating too many & unripe plums as a kid)
Interested by what you mean by "you guys do things differently over there"? Do you mean in NZ?
We certainly aren't paranoid about food hygiene ;) But I personally think Kiwis need to get way better at it!!  ::) But I am an Australian, & grew up with much warmer weather, lots of barbeques/picnics, camping for weeks in the summer... Yet I had never heard about being ultra careful re taking mayonnaise on picnics etc We just instinctively never did things some Kiwis seem to do like putting cooked meat back in the container that the raw meat came out of... ::) They are always warning about that sort of thing over here, every summer...
Posted by: BTypeAUS, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 10:09pm; Reply: 18
My son wastes a lot of food so reheating is something we do a lot..but microwave reheating not more than twice, oven reheating three times max.
Posted by: Possum, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 10:37pm; Reply: 19
I have taken to reheating food in a toaster oven or a small crock pot or small rice cooker, as I decided never to cook or reheat in a microwave again... I believe from what I have read that at worst, it destroys the food value & at least, reheats unevenly :-/
Posted by: JJR, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 11:22pm; Reply: 20
Equipro.  I don't disagree.  I actually agree.  In theory.  But I've had a lot of health problems over the last 5 years and my immune system may be low.  I think it's getting better.  I have been fighting lyme's disease, which some others know.  And right now it has me anxious and rethinking all of my cooking / hygiene habits.  I guess it's a somewhat normal thing for people who have been sick with it, or anything for a long time.  Regardless, I'm just trying to sort it all out in my mind, understand what I can, and find a balance between staying sanitary and not worrying about it too much.  I am overwhelmed some days by lots of things lately.  I have two little kids, a wife working full time but at home.  My kitchen is small, I sometimes feel like I have no where to turn because I don't keep up with the dishes like I should because I've been fighting fatigue.  And then there is like no where to turn when preparing food.  ON and on and on.

So, it's just something I'm trying to work through.  I will, but there's nothing wrong with asking some questions in the meantime.
Posted by: JJR, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 11:24pm; Reply: 21
Quoted from Possum
I have taken to reheating food in a toaster oven or a small crock pot or small rice cooker, as I decided never to cook or reheat in a microwave again... I believe from what I have read that at worst, it destroys the food value & at least, reheats unevenly :-/



Yeah, we don't use the micro.  I will every once in a while if we're cooking fish in the oven, I might cook something for my son in the micro because he's HIGHLY allergic to fish.  But it's not that often.  A toaster oven is a good choice and suggestion.  I had thought of that before, but haven't looked into them yet.  Thank you for reminding me!
Posted by: Possum, Wednesday, November 23, 2011, 11:40pm; Reply: 22
You're so welcome!! I got a mini rice cooker & mini crock pot for heating up food at work, as I refused to use their microwave & they are brilliant too & a large enough to cook 2 servings in for my husband & myself... ;)
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