How Long Can Mac and Cheese Sit at Room Temperature
Mac and cheese have been a favorite snack for all individuals from children to adults. It is considered comfort food and you can make this at home with your version of it.
It is known for its creamy, cheesy, perfectly cooked macaroni, and crisp topping. This recipe just needs simple ingredients that you can buy in any grocery store in your area.
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All you need are elbow pasta, butter, flour, milk, and your all-time favorite cheese that will make this dish supremely good. Protein such as beef or bacon can be added but still, it is just an option for this recipe. The best time to consume your mac and cheese is when it is freshly out of the oven.
How Long Can Mac and Cheese Sit Out?
Not everybody is aware of how long we can serve food at the table that is still safe to consume. Hot food must be served and held at 140 °F or more. Cold food must remain at 40 °F or colder.
The temperature between 40 °F to 140 °F is what we call the Danger Zone where bacteria grow at an exponential rate and can be harmful to eat.
Food like mac and cheese is easily perishable and needs to be served for just 2 hours only unless it is continually heated the same with buffets.
If you are more mindful than others, you can always check the temperature of your food by using a food thermometer.
What Happens If Mac and Cheese Sit Out Too Long?
Always check the time when you serve the food. If it takes longer than 2 hours, then you would know you have exceeded the time to safely consume it.
There are signs of spoilage that you can consider such as a foul smell, and grayish color or molds -though these manifestations do not always appear immediately.
Just consider the time you have served the food and how long it sat out on the table.
Take precautionary measures when serving food well, better dispose of the food properly than having an upset stomach.
The Best Way to Store Mac and Cheese
When storing your mac and cheese better use a sealed container that does not allow the food to dry out. It also keeps other contaminants away from spoiling the contents of the container. Allow hot mac and cheese to cool at room temperature which is around 68 °F before storing it away in the refrigerator or freezer.
Keep it airtight
Ensure that containers used in storing away food are sealed and airtight. This is to preserve the food and leave moisture, freshness, and aroma in the container. You can use glass or plastic containers, or plastic bags.
Keep it in the fridge
The best storage places you can keep any food including mac and cheese are the refrigerator and freezer. Make sure that the temperature inside the refrigerator is 40 °F or below and the freezer must be at 0 °F.
Take note that all perishable food must be stored properly and kept in a sealed container. For mac and cheese, know the characteristics of the cheese you will use because most of the time the cheese determines the storage life of your dish. There are types of cheese that can last longer than the others.
Avoid using processed cheese
Processed cheese is still cheese but has some other ingredients added to it. Most of the time we can measure the content as 50% cheese and the other half are the food coloring and preservatives that adds more flavor and consistency. Also, it is cheaper than real cheese. The downside to this cheese is it has more fat content and has higher sodium and calories. Whereas natural or real cheese only uses natural ingredients that have no added chemicals or preservatives that can be harmful to the health.
I Left Mac and Cheese Out Overnight. Is It Bad?
Better take precautionary measures when dealing with leftover food especially when it is out for more than the 2 hours safe zone. Leaving it overnight might have let bacteria grow and this can cause harmful effects when consumed.
Worse scenarios can lead to food poisoning. Although we hate to waste food, it is a responsibility to store them in a way that we can still enjoy eating the dish afterward.
Leftovers must be handled properly such as storing them in the refrigerator or freezer. Reheating overnight food will not kill the bacteria and might even produce more toxins.
Do Mac and Cheese Need to Be Refrigerated?
To extend the storage life of mac and cheese, it must be stored properly in a refrigerator. This dish can last up to 3-5 days and can be reheated to around 165 °F. Once reheated you can easily serve this on the table. Storing it properly does a lot to any food since it can preserve its quality, especially its taste, texture, and aroma. Wastage of food will also be avoided if handled and stored properly.
Can mac and cheese be left out for 6 hours?
It is not advisable to leave out food for more than 2 hours let alone 6 hours at room temperature. This will promote bacteria growth as soon as it exceeds the 2-hour allowable time to eat your mac and cheese.
It is also suggested to store food in shallow containers that are sealed well and put inside a refrigerator or freezer.