I had to throw out food yesterday. I hate it when this happens.
Our house was a mess lately with John working on a new bar with stools, and boys having a tough first month of getting back to school routine. You know how it goes – cooking, cleaning the mess the “handyman” makes, running errands, and trying to stay sane.
During this “lovely” period, I’ve forgotten about a bowl of spaghetti bolognese leftovers I’ve put in the fridge. Somehow, four days have passed without anyone in the house opening it, and the strange odor finally reminded me of them.
It happens, and you can’t do anything about it; it’s too late when you discover it.
That’s why I went on a research trip to find out everything about storing spaghetti and storage times. I don’t want you to make the same mistake as me, so I’ll share some tips and knowledge I gathered.
Let’s dive in!
Storing the leftovers isn’t smart
It all starts with the dish itself.
When cooking for a hungry family, it’s advisable to care about the amounts and potential waste. But, when you’re in a mess, errors and mishaps simply can’t be avoided.
The ideal situation would be to have a meal with your family and scrape the bowl until the last bit of food is out. But sometimes we just make a bit more so that we don’t have to mess around making more food later.
– “There are spaghetti in the fridge John, just reheat it!”
*finally time for myself*
But, in these situations, the risk of not having them is quite high, and you end up with a lot of waste, and “delightful aroma” in the fridge you’ll have to get rid of later.
Ideally, you want to avoid storing the perfectly edible spaghetti. It’s better to ring your neighbors and bring them the leftovers instead of keeping them because the taste of reheated spaghetti isn’t the same.
You’ll be a good neighbor at the same time, and avoid issues. 🙂
If you still kept them in your fridge, read on.
So, how long you can keep spaghetti in the fridge?
If you’ve made a meaty spaghetti dish, the estimated time of freshness is around three days.
The non-meaty dishes can withstand four days of fridge life, but that’s the maximum duration.
Even an hour beyond this point will make them bad, and potentially risky for your health.
Here’s an excellent tip:
- If you’ve made a lot of spaghetti, it would be really smart not to blend them all together for serving.
- If possible, it’s smart to keep the sauce (and meat) separated, as there is quite a significant difference between how long does the cooked spaghetti last; if blended with sauce, the time to get spoiled is way shorter.
- On the other hand, if you plan it smart and keep them separated, the spaghetti will last longer if not eaten.
When your meal is done, and you scoop the leftovers from the table, the fridge must be their destination. If you plan on consuming them in the following three to four hours, then it’s ok to keep them standing in the pot or saucepan.
If they stand out for more than three hours, the quality starts to lower quickly, and they could be spoiled in the following couple of hours.
If you’re aware that no more spaghetti will be consumed that day, make sure to put the meal in the fridge as soon as possible. The quicker you refrigerate the dish, the longer it will preserve its quality.
Again, it all depends on the ingredients of your meal; if you have more sour-based sauce, the meal can stay in good condition longer. Milk-based cream and mayonnaise as segments of the sauce? These meals will start getting spoiled faster.
When talking about where to put spaghetti in the fridge (you know your refrigerator has different temperature areas, thus different efficiency for different food types), the upper shelves are the best option for your leftover spaghetti.
The reason behind this is the temperature and air circulation; the already prepared meals don’t synergize with the colder parts of the fridge well. Don’t place your leftover spaghetti in the drawers – that is the worst area of the fridge for delicate meals.
Small Update: While writing this I realized my older son actually moved the pot with spaghetti from the top shelf to the lower section, so he could reach and grab some cans. Oh, great.
Storing spaghetti the best way to preserve them for reuse
When storing spaghetti, two things should be on your mind: moisture and air.
If possible, you need to put the spaghetti in the airtight container and try to separate the mass into batches if you have a lot. The reason behind this is in the heat; the big chunk of spaghetti will stay warm longer and will attract more air and generate more moisture.
On the other hand, I’ve talked about sauces and meaty spaghetti meals and what will they look like after a while. Not a good scenario.
If you don’t have airtight containers (although I’d highly recommend you to have these, they are practical for various uses), sealable bags are the next best things. You can even press the excess air out of your spaghetti, preserve them for a longer time.
Here’s an additional tip: add a bit of olive oil into the spaghetti before storing
That will help the strands not to stick together while being stored in a cold environment.
Combined with a proper container or sealable bag, this is the best practice for storing spaghetti for later use with the least chance of spoilage.
If you’re using sealable bags, shake the spaghetti & oil mixture a bit to allow good coating. This will help in the long run with the sticking and overall structure of the strands.
Also, make sure not to toss the warm spaghetti in the sealable bag. Wait for spaghetti to cool down (at least 30 minutes or more based on the amount) and then start packing them for the fridge.
Here’s the deal:
- No matter how good you store your pasta or how you protect it, spaghetti will go bad after approximately 4 to 5 days.
You May Need: A Good Pasta Maker
If by any chance you want to extend its storage life, you’ll have to reach for the extreme measures – the freezer.
This environment can preserve your spaghetti almost indefinitely – if you keep the spaghetti frozen (at least under zero degrees F). Still, it’s recommended not to keep them forgotten frozen longer than two months. Inspect your freezer from time to time ladies & gentlemen!
Thawing your refrigerated (or frozen) spaghetti
Now we’ve come to the part of discovering your (hopefully still in good condition) spaghetti.
It’s time to thaw and use them, without (probably) discovering they’re not good anymore. If you followed my instructions so far, your spaghetti would be in good condition I’m sure.
Thawing the refrigerated spaghetti can be done by hot water or microwave.
I recommend the first option because refrigerated spaghetti loses a portion of their moisture in the cold environment. Furthermore, they will be bland and mushy – the difference is how much (with one to two days of storage slightly, with three or four days significantly).
So, make sure to put your spaghetti in the boiling water (with a bit of salt) for around 30 seconds, and get them into a colander. It will be enough time to get them ta good condition and temperature for use.
Reheating in the microwave works as well (plus it’s easier), but will result in a lower quality end product compared to water thawing. Make sure to sprinkle some water on them to retrieve some moist, and stir them up vigorously before the process. Use the reheat setting on your microwave and set it for one minute longer than prescribed.
Thawing the frozen spaghetti involves two methods:
- A slow, natural process (room temperature)
- Faster, but way more invasive procedure (microwave)
Related: Learn To Find The Best Countertop Convection Oven
As you’ve already guessed, I recommend going for the first method. The reason for this is simple; the microwave will thaw the strands too quickly, killing a lot of nutrients in the process. The strands will be mushy and tasteless.
The slow process of setting them up on room temperature (or placing the bag in hot water) is way slower, but won’t damage the food on a cellular level, making your spaghetti much more nutritious and tasty.
This all relates to the spaghetti without sauce or meat.
Reheating the spaghetti dish which you pulled out from the fridge can be done in the microwave, but make sure not to do it for too long. Use one of the lowest settings and keep it short.
Here’s a small technique of mine I use to reheat spaghetti dishes:
- One-minute session on lowest
- Vigorous stir
- One-minute session on lowest
- Vigorous stir
- OPTIONAL: repeat steps #1 & #2
Further Reading: How Long Do Mushrooms Last In the Fridge?
There you have it, folks.
This is how long spaghetti can last in the fridge or freezer if necessary.
Here are the five main takeaways from today’s post:
- Cook not to have leftovers if possible. You’ll have the best quality of meals. Separate the spaghetti and the sauce and combine it with people’s meals.
- Take care of spaghetti after the meal, and refrigerate as soon as possible.
- If your spaghetti stayed in the fridge longer than four days, throw them away. If you know this will happen, put them in the freezer and use airtight containers or sealable bags.
- Airtight containers and sealable bags are your best friends in this situation.
- Inspect your fridge and your freezer from time to time.
I’ll see you again and until then,
Enjoy some beautiful spaghetti, please!