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Brittany Michael

Common Extension questions & answers

Q: My freezer lid was accidentally left open overnight... is the food still safe to eat?

A: Perishable refrigerated foods (i.e. foods of animal origin) should be discarded after a 6-hour period.

  • Food stored in fully loaded freezers may last for approximately two days, whereas food stored in partially loaded freezers may last for only one day.
  • Freezer foods may be refrozen if ice crystals are present. Exceptions include ice cream, pizza, and casseroles.
  • If the frozen food has completely thawed but is cold, it must be cooked within a 24-hour period; or foods may be refrozen within 24 hours after thawing. However, quality may be diminished.
  • If in doubt throw it out!

Q: Our family takes a while to go through a carton of milk; is it safe to freeze it?

A: Milk is a highly perishable food.


  • Milk should never be left at room temperature and always capped or closed during refrigerator storage.

  • Freezing milk is not recommended, since the thawed milk easily separates and is susceptible to development of off-flavors.

Q: I've heard that cutting mold off of cheese, then eating it is safe. Is this true?

A: Natural and processed cheese should be kept tightly packaged in moisture-resistant wrappers and stored below 40F.


  • Surface mold growth on hard natural cheese may be removed 1 inch past the mold with a clean knife and discarded. Rewrap cheese to prevent moisture loss.

  • Presence of mold growth in processed cheese, semi-soft cheese, and cottage cheese is an indicator of spoilage and thus these foods should be discarded.

Q: Our family buys beef in large packages to save money. Can the leftover uncooked beef be frozen for later use?

A: Freezing inhibits the growth of bacteria. Whole cuts of meat may be stored in the freezer ranging from 4 to 12 months, whereas ground meat may be stored for 3 to 4 months.


  • For maximum storage, wrap meats in moisture-proof, gas impermeable packaging to prevent freezer burn.

Q: What about poultry; can it be frozen too?

A: Poultry should be prepared within 24 hours of purchase or stored in the freezer. Poultry may be stored in the freezer (0F) for 12 months.


  • Thaw poultry in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave. Cook poultry parts (i.e. breast and roast) and whole poultry to an internal temperature of 170F, and 180F, respectively.

  • Leftovers stored in the refrigerator should be consumed within 3 days and reheated to 165F prior to consumption.

Source for Answers: Food Storage Guidelines for Consumers, 348-960, 2001.


Q: The Egg Council advertised a recipe for Splendid Eggnog (a lighter, Splenda version of the traditional). What is the recipe?

A: Make the night before so it has a chance to become icy cold. Keep cold while serving by placing scoops of light ice cream in the punch bowl. Leftovers can be consumed a couple days after making it.


  • 1 cup Splenda low-calorie sweetener

  • 1 tablespoon arrowroot or corn starch

  • 1 teaspoon nutmeg (more if you like)

  • 7 egg yolks

  • 4 cups whole milk

  • 2 cups non-fat half and half

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Mix the first 3 ingredients in a heavy saucepan. Whisk in the egg yolks. Slowly stir in the milk. Continue whisking this moisture over low heat until a food thermometer inserted in the liquid reaches 160 degrees F (about 5-8 minutes). Remove pan from heat and blend in non-fat half and half. If some of the egg has curdled as it was cooked, you may choose to pour it through a mesh sieve to make a creamier, silkier mixture. Chill mixture for 2 hours, uncovered. Cover and chill 3 hours more, then add vanilla extract. Serve chilled, plain, or with 1 teaspoon dark rum per serving. Garnish with additional nutmeg if desired.

Makes 14 (1/2 cup) servings, will keep for 3 days.
Per ½ cup serving: 100 calories, 5g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 5g protein.

Source: Virginia Egg Council



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Author - Brittany Michael Author - Karen Poff Author - Karen Ridings Family & Human Development Family Financial Management Food, Nutrition, Health




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