Looking back at your leftovers

Dec 1, 2015

It's that time of year again when refrigerator space at most homes is like prime real estate. Thanksgiving leftovers abound and December treats await creation.

In order to keep the holidays from being spoiled, here are a few tips and tools to have at your disposal. First, check out the food storage chart to know the storage times for your food goodies. For example, cooked poultry has a shelf life of 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator, but can be extended to 2 to 6 months in the freezer. When reheating leftovers in the microwave, remember to bring them to a temperature of 165 degrees F.

If you struggle to remember how old your leftovers are, you are not alone. While lifespan varies, generally there is a four-day guideline. You can use an easy labeling system or even search for food storage phone apps to aid your memory. Iowa State University Extension mentions the 4 Day Throw away app as one possibility.

If both refrigerator and freezer space is now completely taken, but you still want to make some holiday gifts, consider dehydrating, pickling, and canning. Some fall/holiday ideas include:

  1. Dehydrated fruits – colorful, healthy and space saving
  2. Pie filling – a perfect gift for busy friends or family
  3. Fall Garden Relish (recipe below from So Easy to Preserve, sixth edition)
  4. Lemon curd – sweet, sour, rich, and buttery all at once. Yum!


Fall Garden Relish
Recipe from the National Center for Home Food Preservation
(Yields about four pint jars.)

1 quart chopped cabbage (about 1 small head)
3 cups chopped cauliflower (about 1 medium head)
2 cups chopped green tomatoes (about 4 medium)
2 cups chopped onions
2 cups chopped sweet green peppers (about 4 medium)
1 cup chopped sweet red peppers (about 2 medium)
3 ¾ cups vinegar (5%)
3 tablespoons canning salt
2 ¾ cups sugar
3 teaspoons celery seed
3 teaspoons dry mustard
1 ½ teaspoon turmeric

Combine chopped vegetables; sprinkle with the 3 tablespoons salt. Let stand 4 to 6 hours in a cool place. Drain well. Combine vinegar, sugar and spices; simmer 10 minutes. Add vegetables; simmer 10 minutes. Bring to a boil.

Pack boiling hot relish into hot jars, leaving 1/2-inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Wipe jar rims. Adjust lids. Process 10 minutes in a boiling water bath.

If you've never preserved before, consider attending public classes held by UC Master Food Preserver Programs around the state. Find your program and get started!

By Katelyn Ogburn
Author - Statewide Program Coordinator