It’s one of the unwritten laws of the universe that no one can finish Christmas without a mountain of old food sitting in the fridge. You can be as meticulous and calculating as you like, but you will always end up with buckets of slowly solidifying sauces and Tupperware bursting with cold, pale meat.
Ordinarily, this is where the great Christmas tradition of endless nibbling comes into its own. However, it turns out that the newly blossoming love between you and a green, week-old joint of ham can’t last forever. There are limits on what can be eaten in the days and weeks after Christmas Day. At the undoubted risk of upsetting many of you, this is how many days you can keep your Christmas leftovers for.
Thanks to the complex process of curing and boiling, ham is usually pretty well preserved. Unlike other, more perishable Christmas counterparts, experts suggest that it’s safe to keep eating ham for up to five days after Christmas - provided that it’s been stored correctly from the start.
Unlike it’s porky replacement, turkey doesn’t tend to have been prepared with long term preservation as a priority. This means that, according to the experts at the UK Food Standards Agency, turkey should be cooked or frozen within two days. They also suggest that the meat should not be reheated more than once, as this provides the perfect environment for toxins.
3. Smoked Salmon
As will be obvious to anyone who has ever smelled a rotting fish, salmon of any sort definitely belongs in the fridge. However, thanks to the smoking process, this particular type of fish will typically last a whole lot longer than other fresh alternatives - up to around three or four days if kept cool and covered.
4. Pigs in Blankets
Not many dishes sum up what Christmas is all about than one type of pork stuffed inside another type of pork. Because of its piggy ingredients, experts say that an average pig in a blanket will last around three days after cooking. All the more reason to over indulge at the dinner table.
Similarly to the aforementioned pigs in blankets, sausage meat stuffing should be polished off within three days of cooking. However, if for some unknown reason you decided to go veggie, you’re in luck. A typical vegetarian stuffing mix will last between four and five days if stored correctly in the fridge.
It might be delicious, but Christmas pates are potentially one of the more dangerous dishes to leave past their sell-by date. Scientists have found that pate runs a high risk of being infected by listeria bacteria, which can cause serious illness and be dangerous for anyone with a compromised immune system. Best eaten before the use by date on the packet passes.
Nothing says “Christmas” like the appearance of an impractically large cheese board when no one can possibly eat another bite. The end result is almost always a smorgasbord of leftover dairy, which can sometimes sit for weeks after the main event. Experts suggest that it’s actually ok to cut off mould that begins to grow on hard cheese, so long as you make an attempt to keep it wrapped up. Soft cheeses, however, should be binned at the first sign of decay.
The idea of throwing away any potentially delicious scraps is abhorrent to anyone who claims to love food. However, given the risks of clinging on too long, sometimes it’s better to just let go. It’s better to have loved and lost then end up with crippling diarrhea for New Year’s Eve.