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3 tips for safe and tasty Thanksgiving leftovers

Here's how to store your leftovers so they taste as good as fresh.

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Chris Monroe/CNET

If you're lucky, after your Thanksgiving meal is devoured, there's food leftover to enjoy later. 

Hold up, though. How you put away those morsels is important. Improper storage can lead to stale, dry food -- or worse, bacteria growth that will make you sick when you heat up that leftover stuffing and turkey.

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When to put away leftovers

It's a myth that if you place hot or warm food in a container and stick it in the refrigerator, it can grow dangerous bacteria. As long as you divide large batches of food into smaller, shallower containers, they'll be fine. It's much more dangerous to leave food out in the open to cool first. 

And don't leave the food out all afternoon buffet-style for the latecomers, either. Food should be stored in the refrigerator or freezer within 2 hours of being cooked.

How to store leftovers for better flavor

To keep your leftovers tasting fresh and yummy, store them in airtight bags or containers, or wrap them tightly in plastic wrap. 

Foods typically absorb the odors of other foods in the fridge, but keeping Thanksgiving leftovers in an airtight container will help keep them from tasting funky.

How long do Thanksgiving leftovers last?

No, you can't keep eating your Thanksgiving goodies well into next week. According to the Washington State Department of Health, you need to freeze or toss refrigerated leftovers within three to four days

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