If you’ve made a big bowl of mashed potatoes and there are some leftovers, you may be wondering how long you can leave these on the counter. Mashed potatoes are a delicious side dish, but you do need to make sure you store them properly!
How long can mashed potatoes sit out? Mashed potatoes should be refrigerated within 2 hours of being made. Do not leave mashed potatoes above 40 degrees F for more than 2 hours, or there is a high chance of food borne bacteria growing in the potatoes.
How Long Can You Leave Mashed Potatoes Out?
You should make sure mashed potatoes go into the fridge as soon as possible after they have finished cooking. You do need to cool the potatoes down before you can put them in the fridge, but as soon as they reach room temperature, place them in the fridge.
Mashed potatoes should not be left sitting on the counter for any longer than necessary. If you have added cream, milk, butter, or any other dairy-related ingredients, you should be even more careful about storing the potatoes properly, as dairy is vulnerable to many kinds of bacterial growth.
Even if you haven’t included dairy ingredients in the potatoes, you need to make sure you put them in the fridge as soon as possible. Like all other cooked foods, they shouldn’t be left out. Anything stored between 40 and 140 degrees F will quickly start to develop bacteria, and could make you sick.
If the temperature is very warm and above 90 degrees F, it’s even more important to chill the potatoes quickly, and they should be put into the fridge within an hour of being cooked. If you don’t chill them quickly enough, they will need to be thrown away to avoid the risk of food poisoning.
Are Potatoes Vulnerable to Bacteria?
Almost all kinds of food are vulnerable to bacteria and can give you food poisoning if they aren’t stored properly. However, potatoes can be particularly susceptible, because they are starchy and often contain dairy products to make them creamy.
That means they are likely to breed bacteria with surprising speed, and you should not eat them if they get left out. Food borne bacteria can cause all kinds of nasty effects, including vomiting, diarrhea, and even hospitalization in serious cases. If you think some potatoes have been left out for too long, it’s better to throw them away than to risk consuming them.
You should be careful about mashed potatoes that contain no additional products, and even more careful if they contain dairy. If dairy has been added, the mashed potato is likely to be wetter, and this increases the risk of bacteria breeding in the food.
How Do You Store Mashed Potatoes in the Fridge?
When you are ready to put the mashed potatoes in the fridge, you should place them in an airtight container. Put the lid on, and then put them as close to the back of the fridge as you can.
The airtight container will help to stop the potatoes from drying out and ensure that they retain their soft, fluffy texture. It will also stop them from absorbing the smells and tastes of other ingredients in the fridge. Because potatoes are quite plain, other ingredients will affect the flavor and may make them unpleasant to eat.
How Long Do Mashed Potatoes Last in the Fridge?
Mashed potatoes should last for about 3 to 5 days in the fridge, particularly if you manage to store them promptly. If you left the mashed potatoes out for a while before refrigerating them, you should try to use them up more quickly, especially if you have added dairy to them.
To get the best possible storage out of your mashed potatoes, you should chill them as soon as possible after cooking them. Place the mashed potatoes on a plate and spread them out using a fork or a spoon. Potatoes are quite good insulators, and if you spread them out, the heat can disperse more easily.
You can further speed up the cooling by placing the plate in a cool part of your kitchen, or even putting the plate in a shallow dish of water or ice. This will help to pull the heat out of the potatoes and make them cool faster.
Can You Freeze Mashed Potatoes?
If you aren’t going to use your potatoes up quickly enough, you may want to put them in the freezer – and this is fine to do. Although freezing other kinds of potatoes is difficult because it affects the texture, this shouldn’t be too much of an issue with mashed potatoes, because they are already mushy.
You should again cool the mashed potatoes down before doing this, and then transfer them into an airtight container and put the lid on. Make sure that they are room temperature before doing this, however, or they will partially thaw other foods in the freezer.
You can keep mashed potatoes in the freezer for up to 12 months. They will still be safe to eat after this point, but you may find that the texture and flavor start to deteriorate. When you want to thaw the mashed potatoes, take them out of the freezer and place them in the fridge to defrost for 24 hours.
How to Tell If Mashed Potatoes Have Gone Moldy
If you aren’t sure whether your mashed potatoes are still okay to eat, inspect them carefully for signs of mold. You may see specks of blue or green appearing on the surface, and this is a clear sign that the mashed potatoes aren’t still safe to eat. Equally, if the texture has changed or the potatoes smell bad, you should throw them away.
Don’t eat potatoes that you are unsure about, as food poisoning can be quite dangerous and moldy mashed potatoes can make you very sick.
Mashed potatoes can sit out for up to 2 hours in a reasonably cool room, or up to an hour in a hot room. Don’t leave the mashed potatoes out on your counter overnight, and don’t eat any potatoes that look strange or have an unpleasant smell.