Holiday Leftovers – What to Freeze and What Not to Freeze

Are you inundated with holiday leftovers? There’s only so much time to eat it all up and it’s too delicious to waste, so here’s some info to help with your leftovers.

The first is a reminder of how long those holiday leftovers can be kept in the fridge and the second is a look at which ones can be successfully frozen.

Holiday Leftovers in the Fridge

Store leftovers in the fridge once they are cooled – you don’t want to heat up the fridge and compromise everything in it! Transferring food to shallow containers helps cool food more quickly. Wrap it well to avoid texture, flavor and quality loss. But fridge time is limited, use the following chart as a guideline for how long holiday leftovers will typically keep. holiday leftovers in the fridge

Freezing Holiday Leftovers

Here’s a quick reference chart to help you sort out which holiday leftovers you can successfully freeze and which won’t freeze well.

freezing holiday leftovers

Let me be clear, you can freeze just about any food, and, as long as it was safe to eat before freezing, it will be safe to eat after freezing. However, some foods, like the ones on the “What Not To Freeze” list, do not freeze well due to loss of texture and appearance.

Tips for Freezing Success

  • remove as much air as possible
  • cool food completely before freezing
  • wrap and seal well with freezer quality containers or bags
  • use leftovers within 3-4 months for best quality
  • freeze in useable portion sizes for convenience and ease of thawing
  • don’t freeze food you don’t like – the freezer will not make it taste any better!
  • don’t freeze food that has been left at room temperature for more than two hours – the freezer won’t make it safe
  • it’s okay to refreeze food that has already been frozen – the quality deteriorates every time, but the USDA says …

“Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods. If previously cooked foods are thawed in the refrigerator, you may refreeze the unused portion. Freeze leftovers within 3-4 days. Do not refreeze any foods left outside the refrigerator longer than 2 hours; 1 hour in temperatures above 90 °F.”

Tips for Thawing 

  •  Thaw food safely. Freezing does not kill pathogens, it just slows them down. Once the temperature reaches the danger zone, 4°C-60°C (40°F-140°F) their numbers will increase rapidly.  After two hours at those temperatures, bacterial loads can be dangerously high.
  • Thaw food in the fridge, in cold water baths or in the microwave.

Are there other holiday foods you’re curious about freezing? Drop me a line and together we’ll figure it out!

Sign up to get articles by Getty delivered to your inbox. You’ll get recipes, practical tips and great food information like this. Getty is a Professional Home Economist,  speaker and writer putting good food on tables and agendas.  She is the author of Manitoba’s best-selling Prairie Fruit Cookbook, Founder of Fruit Share, a mom and veggie gardener.

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2 Comments

  1. hi i stumbled upon your website……..i’m a rookie gardner.
    just planted romaine lettuce (small plants store bought).
    from your site i learned how to pick the romaine.from the outside and not to harvest the whole plant. i love how you can re-grow romaine lettuce from the store bought packaged. I will try this over the winter months for fun !!
    i live in ontario the peterborough area actually small town havelock.
    i’m going to lookup what region growing area i live in .

    1. Hi Maria,
      Welcome to the world of gardening! I hope you enjoy the process and get to harvest some lovely edibles.

      Looks like you’re in zone 5, so you’ll have some lovely options to choose from at the garden center. You’re average last frost day in spring and first frost date in fall will also be different. I’m sure you can plant a good week or two before we can here in Winnipeg.

      All the best,
      Getty

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