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Tips for storing and using leftover pasta

There’s no doubt that pasta is popular. In Germany, for instance, half the population admits to eating pasta at least once a week. That’s a lot of pasta – and inevitably some is wasted and lands in the bin contributing to the yearly total of 6.7 million tonnes of household waste that goes to landfill each year in Germany. On the other hand, leftover pasta, pasta sauces and parmesan are ideal candidates for turning into quick and tasty meals. Here are some suggestions for storing and reusing these kinds of leftovers.

Keep bacteria at bay: Freshly cooked pasta goes bad very quickly if not treated right. So cover leftovers and whisk them into the fridge as soon as they’ve cooled down. Even in the fridge they won’t keep longer than three to four days – use them or freeze them quickly. If you buy precooked pasta, it will keep in the unopened original packaging for several weeks. Dried pasta, of course is a store cupboard staple – you can keep it for up to a year in an airtight container and at mild temperatures. Stored this way it’s one of those foodstuffs where you don’t need to take the use-by date too seriously. If you’ve got pasta that’s past its use-by date just use your common sense – check whether it looks and smells okay. It doesn’t really make much difference whether the package was opened or not. Coloured pasta can fade a little if it’s exposed to sunlight – but don’t throw it away because of that.

Not too dry and not too wet: Prevent cooked pasta drying out by storing it in airtight containers. But don’t close the container until the pasta is completely cold (2 to three hours), otherwise moisture will condense on the lid and make the pasta soggy. Plastic boxes with lids or bowls covered with clingfilm are both good. Store leftover sauce separately from the pasta. When you’re warming up the meal, first heat the sauce and then add the pasta. This method stops the pasta getting too soft.

Storing leftover pasta: Keep leftover pasta in the fridge – on the top shelf it will keep one or two days. Check that it looks okay and doesn’t smell rancid before cooking. 

Storing leftover sauce: Stored in an airtight container in the fridge leftover pasta sauce will keep several days. Close up partly-used tetrapacks of sauce with a clip. An opened jar of pesto will keep for four to five days in the fridge, homemade bolognaise sauce with mince will keep up to two days on the lowest shelf of the fridge. Tomato sauce can be boiled up, poured into sterilised jars and carefully sealed. It will then keep for around three months in your store cupboard. Warning: carbonara sauce is a special case – because it contains raw egg, it should be eaten on the day it’s made. Like everything made with raw egg, it could be a breeding ground for salmonella.

Storing leftover parmesan: It pays to buy parmesan and grana padano in a piece rather than ready grated. A chunk of parmesan will keep for at least four weeks – that’s much longer than the grated cheese. The best way of keeping mould spores at bay is not to store the cheese in plastic or cellophane, but to wrap it in a linen cloth and store it in the vegetable drawer of your fridge. Alternatively you can wrap it in paper or store it in a special cheese bin on the middle shelf. If your parmesan or grana padano shows signs of a whitish mould, there’s no reason to throw it away. Simply cut away the mouldy areas fairly generously. Be careful: this only applies to hard cheeses.

Source: Zu gut für die Tonne!