A-Z: How long does your Christmas Lunch actually last?
HOW TO STORE AND REVIVE YOUR CHRISTMAS LUNCH
According to Love Food Hate Waste, over a third of us throw away more food at Christmas than at any other time. It’s the time of year when we buy the most food, and when we waste the most too. Some of the major reasons behind our food waste is not knowing how to store our food or use up leftovers. Often we lack the confidence to tell when our food is off or still ok to eat, and we get confused by best-before and sell-by dates.
Note: sell-by and best-before dates are simply indicators for shopkeepers to know when to rotate their stock and are not an indicator that our food is dangerous to eat. Use-by dates, on the other hand, which are often marked on meat and fish, are the only dates you need to pay attention to. Rather than rely on best-before dates, use your instincts; smell, touch and look at your food. We’ve put together a guide on how to check your food is off here.
Cut your food waste this season and use up every morsel of your Christmas dinner, from your Yorkshire puds to those pesky sprouts:
BREAD SAUCE. Bread sauce will last for about 5 days in a covered container in the fridge. It may start to smell sour as it gets past its best. Reheat it on the hob, adding a splash of water or milk to loosen it. We love this idea to use up leftover bread sauce into a bubbling bake from Ann Storr.
BROCCOLI. Wrap uncooked broccoli in a slightly damp paper or cloth towel and place in the vegetable drawer in your fridge for up to a month. Roasted or boiled broccoli will last for 3 to 5 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge.
BRUSSELS SPROUTS. These hardy Christmas veg store well in the fridge in a sealed container where they will last for up to a month. Roasted or boiled sprouts will last for 3 to 5 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Here are 6 more recipes to use them up.
CARROTS. Store raw whole carrots in the veg drawer of your fridge or in an airtight container filled with water (to keep them nice and crunchy) where they will last for 2 to 4 weeks. Roasted or boiled carrots will last for 3 to 5 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Here are 7 creative ways to use them up.
CAULIFLOWER CHEESE. Cover leftover cauliflower cheese and store in the fridge for up to 3 to 5 days. You can keep it in the dish it was baked in so you can reheat it more easily. You can reheat in the microwave but for crispier results, reheat in the oven at 180ºC for around 35 minutes until piping hot throughout. The same rule applies to other veg gratins.
CHEESE. If you love a cheeseboard over Christmas, there’s no doubt you’ll have leftovers. Hard cheese is best stored wrapped in breathable material, like greaseproof paper (definitely not cling film) in the fridge where it can last for months. If it acquires mould, simply cut it off with a clean knife. If soft cheeses go mouldy, throw them out.
CHUTNEY. Thanks to its high sugar content, chutney can last for weeks, even months in the fridge.
CHRISTMAS PUDDING. How long a Christmas pudding lasts depends on what’s in it. If it has fresh fruit, it will go off quicker than a pudding that’s been soaked in alcohol with sugar and dried fruit. Store in an airtight container and use up the rest in a crumble or in homemade ice cream.
CRANBERRY SAUCE. Cranberry sauce has a high sugar content which acts as a preservative. Whether shop-bought or homemade, store the leftovers in an airtight glass jar or container in the fridge. It will last for a couple of weeks. Use it up in your breakfast porridge or fold through yoghurt.
CUSTARD. Leftover custard keeps well in the fridge for up to 5 days.
GRAPES. Store grapes in a container in the fridge to stop them getting wrinkly and soft too quickly. Like other berries, grapes like to be ventilated; cover the container loosely with a tea towel or cloth and eat within a fortnight or so.
GRAVY. Cooked gravy will stay fresh for about 2 days in your fridge. Veg gravies may last slightly longer. Freeze it into ice cube trays to add to soups and stews for instant flavour. Or throw it into a pie with all your leftover meat, veg and a dollop of cranberry sauce.
GREENS. Uncooked leafy greens, like chard, kale and spinach are best wrapped in a damp paper towel and sealed in a container in the fridge. They need just a little moisture and no extra ventilation. Eat within a week or so. Roasted, steamed or boiled leafy greens will last for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.
MERINGUES. Baking meringues for a Christmas pavlova? Store the leftovers in an airtight tin at room temperature for up to 2 weeks. We love crumbling them into a makeshift sundae, with ice cream, cranberry jelly and toasted nuts.
MINCE PIES. Store in an airtight container, like a biscuit tin and eat within a week or two. The best way to ensure your mince pies last (if you don’t eat them all) is to freeze them.
MINT SAUCE. Homemade fresh mint sauce will keep for 2 to 3 days in a covered container in the fridge. Alternatively, it will keep for 2 to 3 months in a sterilised, sealed jar and the leaves are covered in the vinegar liquid. Check out this recipe.
NUT ROAST. Keep the leftovers in the fridge in a covered container and eat either hot or cold within 3 to 4 days.
PANETTONE. If you have any of this delicious festive Italian bread leftover, make French Toast. Beat a couple of eggs with 200ml of milk, a sprinkling of sugar and a pinch of nutmeg, dip slices of panettone into it and fry until golden and crisp.
PARSNIPS. Store raw whole parsnips in the veg drawer of your fridge where they will last for 2 to 4 weeks. Roasted or boiled parsnips will last for 3 to 5 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Use them up in this festive parsnip soup.
POTATOES. Store raw whole potatoes in a cool, dark place (not in the fridge and away from onions) in paper bags with holes poked in them. This helps to keep them well ventilated. They’ll last for at least a month this way. Roasted, boiled or mashed potatoes will last 3 to 5 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Crisp up your leftover roasties in a bit of oil, garlic and fresh rosemary in a frying pan, and eat with your favourite soup or stew.
RED CABBAGE. Like broccoli, uncooked whole cabbage is best wrapped in a damp paper towel in the fridge where it will last for about a month. Once cooked, store in an airtight container for 3 to 5 days.
ROAST HAM & OTHER ROAST MEATS. Cooked meat, like ham, lamb and beef typically lasts up to 4 days in the fridge in a covered container. Pack the leftovers into a sarnie with cranberry sauce or shred into soup or a stir-fry.
SALADS & LETTUCE. Keep in the fridge in a container lined with paper towels to absorb any extra moisture, and eat within a week or so. Dressed salads will last a day or two in the fridge.
SALMON. Store both cooked and smoked salmon in the fridge. Fresh, cooked salmon will last up to 3 days or so and can be turned into Boxing Day fish cakes for breakfast. Smoked salmon must be eaten within a week once opened – cover it tightly and if it starts to smell sour or has a dull colour, throw it away.
STUFFING. Store any leftover stuffing in the fridge, tightly covered for up to 4 days. Use it up in these delicious cheesy muffins.
SWEDE. Store either in a loose paper or cloth bag in the fridge or in a cool, slightly damp place out of direct sunlight for up to 1 to 2 months. Once cooked, store in an airtight container and eat within 3 to 4 days.
TURKEY & OTHER POULTRY. Cooked meat typically lasts up to 4 days in the fridge in a covered container. Don’t throw it away – use up the leftovers in this Boxing Day Turkey Salad.
YORKSHIRE PUDDINGS. Cooked Yorkshire puddings will last for up to 4 days in the fridge: reheat in a 220ºC oven for a few minutes to warm through. Uncooked batter will last for 2 to 4 days in a covered container – use it to make more Yorkshire puds or breakfast pancakes.