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Red Sauce left out overnight - Still safe to eat?

Last night, after making a fresh batch of red sauce w/ sausage, I left it in the pot to cool on the stove. Unfortunately, I fell asleep and didn't remember to put in in the refrigerator until 5 this AM. The total time from coming off the heat until it was put away was about 8 hours.

Is it still safe to reheat/freeze and eat? Any advice would be most appreciated. Thanks.

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  1. I'd certainly freeze it. We regularly leave things out to cool overnight on the stove and don't freeze until morning.

    4 Replies
      1. re: hotoynoodle

        Thanks for the advice. For those who suggesting "freezing" - are we just talking storage or does the freezing somehow make the sauce safer?

        1. re: freshlycured

          Just storage (that is what you were aksing about, wasn't it?)

          But I hope that in the 10 hours that have passed since your OP you've already taken some action.

          1. re: freshlycured

            Freezing doesn't kill microorganisms, it just slows them to a standstill so they don't multiply so much and affect more of the food. Whatever is in the food when you put it to sleep in the freezer, will still be there when you wake it up. Only heat will kill them off, or most of them.

            Personally, I'd eat the sauce after reheating it to kill the bacteria and tasting to see if it was still palatable. Unless the sauce wasn't that great to begin with. :)

      2. Low(ish) risk, but not zero risk. Reheating will kill most germs, and the acidity of the tomato sauce should work in your favor, but there is still at least some risk of staph toxin. As to whether or not to eat it or toss it - that depends on numerous factors: did anyone taste the sauce with a spoon and then put the spoon back in the pot; how cautious are you generally about food safety; are any of the people who might eat this sauce especially susceptible (pregnant, immonocompromised, particularly ill, very young or very old)?

        I'd probably reheat and eat were it just me doing the eating, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend that everyone do the same.

          1. When in doubt, throw it out. 8 hours is way past the 4 hour recommendation.

            1. If it had no meat, I'd say yes. But I'm with Wyogal when it comes to risk/benefit ratio here.

              1. Been there, done that. Would have no problem reheating, refrigerating, or freezing & then eating.

                1. Lesson learned when I poisoned the entire family with post Thanksgiving turkey soup.

                  I placed a still simmering 8 qt stockpot into the refrigerator to cool after removing the turkey carcass and found it still luke warm the following morning along with warm orange juice, milk, pickles, you get the picture. Small house one bathroom was 48 hours of pure hell.

                  So now I take zero chances. Zero

                  Soups, sauces, stocks, etc come off the stove and immediately are transferred into a chilled stock pot. That pot is immersed into a large sink already filled with cold water and at least 7 to 10 lbs of ice cubes. The ice bath is stirred while the hot liquid is constantly stirred to maximize the heat transfer. Goal is to get the liquid down to 50 degrees as quickly as possible (10 minutes). I use an instant read thermometer to verify (remember zero chances)!

                  Once cooled, i store it into the smallest practical containers and place them into the deepest back corners of the refrigerator where I made room for them well in advance. Yes it means a bunch more cleaning, multiple pots, multiple spoons, multiple containers, thermometer, etc. , and saving up days worth of ice cubes but once bitten, I learned the lesson of safe food handling without shortcuts.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: ThanksVille

                    "8 qt stockpot into the refrigerator to cool after removing the turkey carcass and found it still luke warm the following morning "

                    So, did you replace refrigerator? I can think of no reason why 8 qts of even boiling water/stock should not cool completely overnight in working fridge. Heck, If you left it on the stove it shuld have cooled in 12 hours.

                    1. re: FrankJBN

                      I agree....something wrong with the fridge. I wonder if the door didn't close tightly.

                      I put hot off the stove stock in the fridge and have never had a problem like that Thanks describes.

                      1. re: rbohan

                        I have to add my experience to this... never had anything hot, even in cast iron, anything but cold with the rest of the fridge next a.m.

                    2. re: ThanksVille

                      A refrigerator thermometer is a very handy tool. Every morning when I open the door, I know exactly where's it's at and make immediate adjustments if necessary. Right now, with this 95 degree weather, it went up almost 10 degrees, despite the AC. Downstairs freezer too, although that's usually too cold and I figure I'm wasting electricity when it reads -20 or -30 so I turn it up a bit. I can't imagine being without one.

                      1. re: ThanksVille

                        I've never even considered putting a hot container of anything - no matter the size - into the refrigerator. Just immersing it in cold water in the sink drops the temp rapidly. In my freezer I keep two Rubbermaid containers (pint and quart) that have been nearly filled with water, then frozen. Just plop the sealed container into the middle of the pot of hot food. The food cools to room temp very quickly, even if the pot isn't in cold water. This is certainly easier than having to plan ahead so as to have enough ice cubes.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          One thing I love about the winter time (and believe it or not there are a few), is the fact that you can put a cauldron of hot stuff in the garage and use Mother Nature to cool it down to a managable temp, without any intervention. In restaurants, they pour it into shallow trays and that helps quite a bit too.

                          1. re: coll

                            Agreed - I use the porch outside the kitchen door since the garage involves stairs. But I am careful to leave the light on and take the food in as soon as it's cool. Ever since the time I put a pot containing a poached chicken out there and returned 6 hours later to a pot that contained not a molecule of chicken. The neighbor's dog, I imagine, because I think mine (who was inside the whole time) would not have covered for the culprit had it been a wild animal. Likewise, when brining requires refrigeration and a large container, I only do it when it's cold enough to use the porch. Never enough room in the fridge.

                            1. re: greygarious

                              Again, it's great that I have a thermometer out in the garage, mine isn't insulated that well and many times it will be in the 30s overnight.

                              At a former house, my SIL volunteered to make leftovers for everyone on Thanksgiving, and thought she was clever putting them on our open porch out back to stay cool. The neighborhood racoon is the only one that got anything that night! What a mess. My husand made me buy another turkey the next day, boy was he mad.

                        1. The old saying goes...when in doubt, throw it out.

                          However, in this case, I think I'd be inclined to keep it, unless the sausage was made from poultry. If keeping, I would reheat it over medium heat and bring it to a simmer/boil and keep it there for at least 2 minutes, longer if the sauce wasn't getting too thick. Transfer to a shallow pan and into the fridge to cool quickly, and then into ziplocks and into the freezer.

                          The reheating will kill most of what, if anything grew, the freezing will take care of almost anything left behind. The acidity from the tomatos should have acted to deter bacteria growth as would salt if you salted the sauce.

                          Good luck

                          1. I'm happy to say that the sauce ended up being a success. After a day in the fridge (as I solicited all of your great advice), I reheated to a simmer, then quick cooled and froze. Two days later, I defrosted and it was great. However, next time, I'll set an alarm so I don't forget to get the original sauce in the fridge/freezer.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: freshlycured

                              Glad things worked out.

                              I'm with Dining Diva on this one too.

                              I once did a small 2 quart batch of red sauce with meatballs and sausage late in the evening for the next days meal.. When finished, I turned off to let cool then fell asleep until the next morning.
                              Like you,I did an Oh s&^% and then just brought it up to a boil then simmered for 5 minutes.

                              Containered it, let it cool on the counter a bit and then into the fridge.
                              No muss , no fuss and FAR from paranoia.

                              I'm all for food safety, but tossing away very "saveable" food is just too wasteful in my eyes.
                              YMMV of course. :-)

                            2. I just did the same thing, accidentally left on stove, turned off, overnight. Then put in fridge for eating later, like 3 days. Is this not good idea, 3 days in fridge at 37 degrees F?

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Molliedog

                                It's not the time in the fridge that is worrisome, it is the time you left it at room temperature before putting it in the fridge.

                                1. re: Molliedog

                                  Think it would've been better to boil it again, cool it down and then refrigerate. but then you risk the possibility of forgetting to refrigerate promptly again

                                2. You can use my New Years Eve rule if you want--If something was put out for a NYE party around 6 or 7, would you eat it when you are drunk at 2am? That's how I decipher how long is too long to leave out. I understand that some people won't be able to relate to my rule.