Know When Your Food Has Gone Bad

Don't let good food go bad! Here are Tosca Reno's foolproof tricks to know whether your clean food is still good.
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Most food — with the exception of certain items such as fresh fruits, vegetables and some canned goods — have a "best before" date. Some foods last longer than predicted on the label and are perfectly good to eat. So, all foods need to be treated individually and with respect when it comes to storage and consumption.

Our food perishes because bacteria are attracted to its nutrients. Your nose is often the best gauge when determining edibility, but if you are still uncertain, do a taste test and sample a bit of the food in question on your tongue — without swallowing it! If you have the urge to spit it out (or worse), then trust your clever taste buds and toss it right away. It is always better to be safe than sorry.

Also, your fridge should be between 34 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit to keep food from spoiling. I suggest purchasing a refrigerator thermometer to be sure. The same applies for your freezer, which should stay frosty at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. CE TIP: The butter compartment is a great place to thaw foods as the door is the warmest part of your refrigerator!

KEY STORAGE TIMES:

POULTRY

  • Uncooked: 1 to 2 days, freeze 9 to 12 months
  • Cooked: 3 to 4 days, freeze 4 to 6 months

FISH

  • Cooked: 3 to 4 days, freeze 4 to 6 months
  • Lean or fatty, uncooked: 1 to 2 days; freeze lean fish up to 6 months; freeze fatty fish 2 to 3 months
  • Shellfish: most shellfish 1 to 2 days: freeze 3 to 6 months

MEATS

  • Uncooked: steaks, chops, roasts: 3 to 5 days (freeze steaks 6 to 12 months; freeze chops 4 to 6 months; freeze roasts 4 to 12 months)
  • Ground, uncooked: 1 to 2 days, freeze 3 to 4 months
  • Cooked: 3 to 4 days, freeze 2 to 3 months

FRUITS AND VEGETABLES

  • Apples: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Apricots, avocados, melons, nectarines, peaches: 5 days
  • Beets: 1 to 2 weeks
  • Bell peppers: 3 to 4 days
  • Berries: 3 days
  • Broccoli, Brussels sprouts, carrots, green onions: 5 days
  • Cabbage, cucumber, celery: 1 week
  • Chile peppers: 7 to 10 days
  • Citrus fruit: 2 weeks
  • Grapes: 5 days
  • Mushrooms, beans (green or waxed): 1 to 2 days
  • Root vegetables (radishes, rhubarb, rutabaga, turnips): 2 weeks
  • Spinach and leafy greens: 3 to 4 days
  • Tomatoes: 2 to 3 days

DAIRY & EGGS CHEESE

  • Hard, unopened: 6 months
  • Hard, opened: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Soft, unopened: 3 to 4 weeks
  • Soft, opened: 1 to 3 weeks
  • Note: Hard cheeses can be frozen up to 6 months
  • EGGS
  • Fresh eggs (in shell): 3 to 5 weeks, do not freeze
  • Raw egg yolks, whites: 2 to 4 days, freeze up to 1 year
  • Hard-boiled eggs: 1 week, do not freeze
  • Egg whites, egg substitutes, opened: 3 days, freeze up to 1 year

BUTTER

  • 1 to 3 months, freeze for 6 to 9 months

MILK

  • 1 week

YOGURT

  • 10 to 14 days

GRAINS & SIDES

  • Rice, cooked: 2 to 3 days, freeze 1 to 2 months
  • Quinoa, cooked: 2 to 3 days, freeze 1 to 2 months
  • Stuffing, cooked: 3 to 4 days, freeze 1 month
  • Mashed potatoes: 3 to 4 days, freeze up to 1 month

PREPARED DISHES & EXTRAS

  • Fruit/Pumpkin Pies, Baked: 2 to 3 days, freeze 6 to 8 months - Unbaked: 1 to 2 days, freeze 2 to 4 months
  • Quiche, with filling: 3 to 4 days, freeze up to 2 months
  • Olives and pickles, opened: 2 to 3 months
  • Soups and stews: 3 to 4 days, freeze 2 to 3 months
  • Gravy, meat broth: 1 to 2 days, freeze 1 to 2 months
  • Red wine, re-corked: 3 to 5 days, freeze 1 to 2 months
  • Salads: 3 to 5 days, do not freeze
  • Salad dressing, opened: 3 months