The guests have left, and the leftover pizza is still sitting on the counter, and you’re wondering whether to eat it or throw it out.
You study the thick, golden-brown crusts in apprehension, and you don’t see throwing it in the dustbin as an option. So, what do you do?
Does Pizza Go Bad?
Like many foods of its kind, pizza does indeed go bad. Why does pizza go bad? One explanation is temperature. If you leave out the pizza in a hot place, you’re inviting bacteria, which is harmful.
Generally, these harmful bacteria might earn you a trip to the hospital due to foodborne diseases. So, please do not risk it by assuming pizza is a long-lasting food you can take a bite of any time you feel like, no matter how long it’s been sitting out.
There are, however, rules and tips that can help you keep it fresh and safe longer.
How Long Does Pizza Last?
We’ve all done it. Bought more pizza than we could finish. For this reason, you desire to prolong its shelf life. But, how long can you stretch this? You must be wondering what the limit is. Does pizza go bad if I’ve had it overnight? Yes. Standard guidelines show that if the pizza has been out in the open overnight, don’t keep it.
For those leftover pieces left on the kitchen top, two hours is a safe bet. Expert put the risk area as temperatures between 40 degrees Fahrenheit and 140 degrees Fahrenheit, which create the perfect conditions for harmful pathogens.
However, if you refrigerate the leftovers, you can enjoy your slices even four days later. Don’t go past the four-day mark, no matter how tasty that pizza looks. Too lazy to cook? Just dial a delivery for another pizza. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Further, note that this rule of thumb applies even for veggie pizzas. Meat is not the only culprit when it comes to foodborne illnesses.
|0 days||Up to 2 hours||Up to 4 days||
Up to 2 months
Tips to Tell If Pizza Has Gone Bad
You’re standing in your kitchen, wondering if your pizza is spoiled. Is your mind a battleground of questions like “should I still eat it”? Well, you don’t have to be confused as there are simple ways to tell if your pizza is ready for the dustbin.
1. Appearing Moldy
Mold is not anyone’s friend. Apart from making you sick, can you imagine eating something that has already started growing mold? Or changed color?
2. Rancid Smell
Don’t make excuses. Your sense of smell is right. If something stinks and it’s your old pizza, it’s probably gone stale. No matter how much you try, eating food with a funny smell will be hard.
3. Hard and Dry Crust
Crunchy might work for some people, but being hard could be a sign your pizza is way past its due date. Nonetheless, throwing out such pizza is a personal call. If you’re the kind who isn’t bothered by a hard, dry crust, you’re welcome to eat the pizza.
4. Awful Taste
You took a close look at your pizza and couldn’t seem to find anything wrong with it. It still seems fresh, and the toppings look as delicious as they were on the day you ordered it. But, one bite into the pizza and you want to throw up. Again, trust your taste buds. If it tastes terrible, it’s probably spoiled.
5. Slimy Toppings
Gooey-looking pizza slices are a no-go zone. You’ll probably be disgusted before you even start eating. Throw it out.
6. Freezer Burns
If you did not correctly seal your pizza, freezer burns a likely to occur. Why does pizza go bad if exposed to freezer burns? It means they lost moisture, and air found its way to them. You’ll probably notice this when you’re checking your freezer or the day you want to thaw the food. The pizza is likely to be darker.
How to Store Pizza
Some pizza lovers prefer leftovers. They say it tastes better the next day and prefer storing as much as possible. With this in mind, does pizza go bad if you toss it in the fridge or freezer? It depends on how you store it. Just because you have heard of months of freezing, don’t just throw your dish into the freezer without care.
Some easy tips will come in handy.
1. Cover It Up
If you intend to leave your leftover pizza on the counter to eat an hour or two later, there aren’t many rules. Just cover your pizza to attract insects like ants, leaving your counter mess and your food inedible. Alternatively, place the slices in a container large enough to hold them or separate containers.
Another downside to leaving it open is that the crust is likely to become harder than when you ordered it. If this is not your cup of tea, you can achieve a softer crust by covering the pizza.
2. Use Paper Towels
We all know the refrigeration rules. You can’t keep hot food in the fridge. So, wait for the pizza to cool if you’ve just ordered it and decided to eat later.
To ensure you retain as much of the pizza’s original taste as possible, it to line a container with paper towels. If you don’t have paper towels, use parchment paper. It works the same.
By all means, don’t give in to the temptation of throwing the whole box into that fridge. Why? Your slices will be all soggy by the time you want to reheat them. You won’t be able to salvage them no matter the heating method you use.
3. Beginning Stacking
Once you’ve lined the bottom with paper towels, place one or more slices, depending on how many your container can take. Then, place a paper towel on top. Repeat the paper towel-pizza process until all the pieces are fit. Get another container should you need to.
4. The Lid On the Container
If you’re satisfied that all your pizzas or pieces are nicely stacked, put the lid on the airtight container. Using a container is the best way to keep that pizza fresh, but you can also stack your whole pizzas or slices on a plate. When using a plate, the process is the same. Just ensure you wrap the entire plate-stacked pizza before tossing it into the fridge.
Once you have finished, it is now safe to keep the pizza in the fridge for up to four days. Remember, don’t go past four days with the pizza in the refrigerator.
If you’re in a hurry, you can always stack your leftovers in a plastic bag and seal them tightly. Finally, wrap the whole stack with aluminum foil to keep them fresh. Be warned that this method might not give you the long-lasting results you seek.
5. Freezing Option
The only difference in the freezer option is that you should stack your pile on a container. A plate might not serve you as long as needed. However, frozen pizza bought from the store can stay in your freezer for up to a year.
Can You Freeze Pizza?
Forget those pre-frozen pizzas you buy in the supermarket. If you’ve had boxes of pizza delivered to you to keep for a long time, you might worry about how to store these. Sometimes it’s because the pizza lover in you can’t risk coming to a home without your slice of heaven. So, you wonder how far you can push that delicious goodness if you buy many boxes to last you a month.
Here’s where it gets interesting for pizza lovers. You can undoubtedly freeze the pizza. Does pizza go bad if frozen? Of course, at some point, pizza, like any other food, will become stale. But, for up to two months, you can store your pizza without worry.
What’s more, storing pizza for months is unlikely to make it lose its taste and texture. Some people advise that you could keep your pizza for up to 60 days. You could try it. But this comes with a warning: You can ruin all that delicious goodness over time, and the pizza won’t taste the same as when you first bought it.
The choice is yours, but try to stick to the two-month rule.
The Risk of Consuming an Expired Pizza
The catch is in the toppings. If your pizza contains toppings made of meat, think of what spoilt meat can do to you.
Salmonella and listeria rank among the bacteria that might find their way to your plate and cause you sleepless nights. You can find Salmonella in meat and chicken, which are popular pizza toppings. The other bacteria to watch out for, listeria, camps within cheeses and sometimes meats and salads.
Should you be the unlucky victim of food poisoning caused by stale pizza, then some of the symptoms would be diarrhea, headache, and fever. Who wants this after a fun night of eating out? Or a relaxing day of lazing around with a large pizza at hand?
The best way to avoid these is to discard old pizza as soon as it has gone past the green zone. Unfortunately, if you eat rotten pizza and have the above symptoms staying hydrated is the best treatment. But, you can always rush to the doctor’s if things get out of hand.
How about cheese? The answer is in the mold. Cheese can get moldy, and sometimes this is nothing to worry you. However, rotten cheese might expose you to an allergic reaction or, if things take a turn for the worse, leave you in the hospital fighting for your life. Learn your cheese.
Now that you know how to store pizza to preserve its freshness, you can order without fretting. Also, you don’t have to discard leftovers, which leaves you feeling like you wasted money. Eat your pizza today and spare some for tomorrow’s lunch. It will still taste the same if well stored.