When it comes to the holidays, there are a LOT of questions that come up about food…there’s the preparation, and the big-batch cooking, and the recipes, and the shortcuts, and the plating, and the clean-up…
And the, of course, there are the leftovers!!
I’m not going to write about how many pounds your turkey has to be, or how long any dish can safely sit out…when I talk about “food storage,” I’m actually going to show you the kitchen design and technology that can COMPLETELY change how you handle leftovers (and cooking in general)! You can literally and figuratively warm up to leftovers this year, because they will NOT be as disappointing as some of us remember from when we were kids!!
Food waste is a HUGE problem in the United States…and we all know it, because 77% of Americans even say that they feel GUILTY about it. But there’s only so much food you can store before it goes bad!
What’s a family to do?
If you think the anticipation is a big part of the holidays, then I say so is the extended period of leftovers, extra days off work, and the best company. It’s called the holiday “season” because it stretches over the whole of November and December, right? And your favorite foods can lock in that delicious charm and stretch over a heartier span of time with the right set-up, too!!
Some of these leftover-focused tips might surprise you!
1: Know how to store each of your wines
There will be some bottles opened during the holidays, I’m sure…and for those of you who are wine drinkers, if there’s a final selection you don’t finish at the end of the day, it’s helpful to know how best to store it!!
Once you open a bottle of red OR white, if you don’t finish it, cork it and keep it in the fridge. In that cold state, all the ingredients slip into an “arrested state.” Technically, the wine still ages as it sits (even overnight), but it oxidizes slower than if it had been sitting on the counter.
And while we’re on the topic of wines…it’s also best to know which you store in your dry wine cubbies and which you store in the fridge before uncorking them! Here’s a quick breakdown…
• VERY few reds need to be chilled before drinking, except sparkling (like Lambrusco)
• Any wine you’ve stored in the fridge should be left out 30 minutes before serving
• There’s always an exception to these rules…for example, reds with a high alcohol level should be placed in the fridge briefly before serving to temper the alcohol. Who knew!
2: A refrigerator that makes a real difference…
Fridge technology has come a LONG way, and whether or not you’ve ever thought about WHAT leftovers have to do with your selection of fridge, let me tell you…the right fridge can ABSOLUTELY change what you can store, how, and for how long.
Today’s high-end fridges are all about superior materials and technology. Take a Sub-Zero fridge, for instance. Do you really need a $10,000+ refrigerator? Well, maybe. And maybe not. It depends on you, and depends on your kitchen. Sub-Zero has become the most distinguished fridge brand for high-end kitchen remodels because of the materials they use and the technology they’ve developed. For example:
- Sub-Zero fridges use DOUBLE-compressor technology. One compressor is used for the refrigerator, and the other is for the freezer. This means NO commingling of moist fridge air with the dry freezer air…because, when the air mingles, so do odors and flavors. Whatever you’re freezing after a big holiday meal can finally keep its flavor instead of acquiring whatever you throw in the fridge later!
- Also, in case you didn’t know…when food spoils, it emits nasty ethylene gases. If that sounds gross, that’s because it is! Sub-Zero fridges, however, use a bacteria-killing air scrubber to rid your refrigerator of ethylene (as well as mold and viruses). Spoilage is then slowed, and you get to enjoy truly worry-free leftovers for longer!!
PRO TIP: The storage location of any leftovers you leave in the fridge ALSO makes a BIG difference in making food last longer…lower shelves are colder than top ones, so items with milk should be kept down below, while things like eggs, cheese and butter should be carefully sealed and left on the top shelf.
3: Use steam ovens for cooking and reheating
Over the last several years, steam cooking has definitely gotten more popular!! You’ve probably already heard that it’s the healthiest way to cook…and, it’s true, maintaining moisture does maintain the nutrients in your food, while a dry oven will bake them out!
That holds true for leftovers, too, so when you are ready to reheat something, slip it in your steam oven to retain its day-of flavor and lock all the nutrients inside. After all…the first instinct would be to plop leftovers in the microwave, which will definitely rob your favorite foods of both!!
For more tips on HOW to select the right appliances for any remodel, read this article…
4: Hook up with Alexa and the gang
The advancements of home technology also include the reality that most appliances are now Wifi-enabled, meaning you can tune EVERYTHING into your smart home assistant like Alexa or Google Home.
Can you imagine turning the faucet on with a voice command? Delta recently came out with an Alexa-enabled faucet…this is real stuff!!
Am I a little off the original topic of leftovers?? Maybe. But you have to admit that you’ll have an easier time navigating a kitchen that’s Alexa enabled. That means you’ll also have an easier time USING your kitchen to scoop out, plate, and reheat your leftovers. It can be a process that’s not just pleasant this year, but downright easy!
Your kitchen should be an experience. And if you’re as big a fan of holiday foods as I am…you should enjoy those leftovers as MUCH as possible for as LONG as possible! And a smart kitchen is…well, the smart way to go…
You can even use Alexa or your home assistant to look up which leftovers are still good after a certain number of days!!
5: Use the right food containers for the best storage
The containers you KEEP your leftovers in are just as important as how you reheat them…ideally, you would keep every dish in individual containers (the smaller the better, if you can split a big batch up, for instance).
Glass and plastic are the two most common food storage options, as you know. VERY few plastics have BPAs anymore, which means any option will be a safe option…even so, glass is still preferable because it can be used to reheat your leftovers (especially in that steam oven I mentioned before).
It’s worth pointing out, though, that some fridges even have special trays and storage built in for specific produce and leftovers…if you’re interested, this is the kind of thing you’ll want to ask your interior designer about!! (If you don’t already have a designer you consider “your” interior designer, read this article on the advantages to selecting someone now.)
When it is time to sit down with your loved ones and sink your teeth into a DELICIOUS holiday meal, we with you nothing short of pure joy!
…And when it’s time later to chow down on some leftovers, the last tip I’ll leave you is to TURN UP THE HEAT!! Leftovers should generally be heated to 165 degrees in the center…and bring sauces, gravies and soups to a rolling boil.
Get creative, too! And have fun! Repurpose those meats, in particular, for some unforgettable sandwiches, soups and more.
Just don’t forget to invite us over!!