How long are leftover mashed potatoes good for? Mashed potatoes are one of the most versatile dishes around, and can be served with almost anything. From vegetables and meat, to milk.
No matter what you choose to do with them, they’ll always retain that soft and full consistency which everyone loves.
However, Like every other food, mashed potatoes will go bad with time, and if you happened to make it in excess, you’re going to have a lot of spoiled mashed potatoes on your hands.
Fortunately, you’re about to learn just how long are mashed potatoes good for so you can take the necessary steps to preserve it. You’re also going to learn the best ways to preserve your excess mashed potatoes, as well as other things you can do with them.
How long are leftover mashed potatoes good for?
If you’re storing your mashed potatoes in the fridge, you should expect it to last for about four to five days, but you’ll need to store them in a clean, air tight container to retain their freshness and to prevent them from absorbing more water.
I didn’t even bother to mention how long it’ll be stored on a counter or shelf because I don’t, in any way, want to encourage anyone to store leftover mashed potatoes anywhere that’s not a refrigerator or a freezer.
This is because if you leave the leftovers outside, within hours, it’ll attract a lot of bacteria and harmful micro organisms (what? You’re not the only one who likes mashed potatoes).
What are some of things I need to take note of when I’m storing in the refrigerator?
Once you’ve taken the mashed potatoes out of the heat, if you’re not eating it, put it in the fridge within 3hrs before the bacteria begins to multiply.
How long the mashed potatoes last depends on what was added to it. For example, if the ingredients are egg based, or dairy based, it’s not going to last long, even in the fridge.
Also, like pretty much any other food out there, storing mashed potatoes in the fridge could end up altering the taste and texture. This heavily depends on the health of the potatoes you used in the first place.
How do I store mashed potatoes in the fridge the right way.
Store them within the first two to three hours of cooking. This is because if you take too long, it will accumulate bacteria and other microbes and even if you put it in the fridge, you’ll only end up putting them in a coma, waiting to come out when you begin reheating.
Ensure the temperature of the fridge is turned to the lowest (the coldest).
Another thing to note is that it should be kept in an air tight container. You see, when you put something in the fridge or freezer, it tends to absorb water, and let’s just say soaked up mashed potatoes isn’t worth it. Believe me, I’ve been there.
Another reason for this is that if you leave your mashed potatoes open, it could either absorb the smell of other food items in the fridge (mashed potatoes could be smelling like fish), or it could “give” its smell to other foodstuff (bread could be smelling like mashed potatoes). Yuck.
Also, it’s ideal to store your potatoes in an air tight container because if it got contaminated prior to storage, it wouldn’t spread to other foodstuff. It also prevents other contaminated foodstuff from spreading their germs into your potatoes.
Do ensure that your storage container isn’t deep. As a matter of fact, it ought to be shallow and wide. Why? Because if it is deep, the food won’t refrigerate evenly and thoroughly so you might end up with a really cool spot (the outside), and a warmer spot (the inside). This would cause the whole thing to spoil from the inside out, even though it’s still in the refrigerator.
The shallow containers should not be deeper than 3.5 to 4 inches. You can also use a ziploc bag to store it.
It’s worth noting that there’s something called the two hour rule, let me explain.
This mainly applies to people who don’t have refrigerators that work fast. I stated that the mashed potatoes shouldn’t last more than 2 to three hours outside a refrigerator or a freezer.
But here’s the thing, if you didn’t put your potatoes in the fridge immediately after you cook it, let’s say, you take it off the heat, and spend close to 45 minutes (some people love to chew their foods properly) eating it, that has already gone deep into the two to three hour threshold.
After exactly an hour, you decide to put the whole thing in the fridge but your fridge takes a while to cool things down, you now have mashed potatoes in the fridge that hasn’t cooled down to a considerable level, and your time is running out.
This is why the two hour rule is here, and like I said earlier, it works best for people who don’t have fast cooling refrigerators. It essentially prevents your mashed potatoes from already deteriorating while the fridge slowly cools it down.
The two hour rule involves cooling the mashed potatoes with the sink method to help give it a headstart before the fridge takes over.
What you should do
Fill the sink, or a bowl with icy cold water, place the shallow container (that has the mashed potatoes) on top of the water (the container should float). Do not submerge it.
Use a ladle to gently stir the potatoes so it’ll lose a lot of heat. Once it’s gotten really cool, transfer it into the fridge and cover it thoroughly.
While it’s in the fridge, it’s important to check it from time to time for any signs of spoilage, such as the growth of moulds. If you spot any, keeping it in the fridge any longer would only be a waste of time.
What about freezing? Can I freeze my mashed potatoes?
Yes, you can freeze it, and like every other food, it’ll last very long in the freezer. This is an ideal storage plan if you don’t want to eat it anytime soon.
However, with time, the quality would be affected and the taste will begin to deteriorate with time. Everything still heavily depends on the ingredients added to the mashed potatoes, as well as the state and health of the potatoes prior to storage.
You could also use the two hour rule I outlined for the refrigeration if your freezer dosen’t freeze on time.
Also, despite the fact that I said you could store it for a very long time, it’s best to eat it within a month as it’s the period where it’ll be at it’s best quality.
What are some things I need to note before I freeze my mashed potatoes?
You should ensure that the potatoes aren’t hot before you put them in the freezer. This is because it could bring its own heat into the freezer and defrost nearby food items, as well as raise the overall temperature of the freezer.
This would make it take longer to freeze, and this is time you don’t have. I’m sure you can see why I talked about using icy water in the sink method. You could as well just leave it out in the open to cool down but it might end up attracting bacteria.
If the amount is much, ensure you separate them into different compartments before you leave them in the freezer. This is because it makes it easier to take the portion you need instead of having to defrost everything, just to end up only needing a small portion.
What are the steps to take if I want to reheat?
Do you know that if the mashed potatoes, in any way, got contaminated while in the fridge, if you reheat it the right way, it could go a long way in killing any harmful bacteria lodged inside it. Yes, that’s just how important it is to reheat it properly.
So here are some of the golden rules involved in reheating your mashed potatoes.
You could reheat with a stove top, as well as an oven. Whichever is available to you.
However, it’s not recommended to reheat with a microwave, most especially for mashed potatoes that have been frozen for a long time and are starting to lose their texture and taste. Microwaving them will make them have a dryer and a more sticky feel.
If you want to reheat, transfer from freezer to refrigerator, or you could just turn off your freezer and let it stay for about 6 hours. There has to be an element of discretion here because the length of time varies depending on how much mashed potatoes were frozen.
Transfer to your oven or a pan heated on a stove top and turn up the heat (to medium levels that is).
If you want to revive the taste, you could add milk, broth, stock, cream, butter, etc in small quantities to the mashed potatoes while you’re gently stirring it to even the heat distribution.
If you’re going to use an oven, mix the liquids with the mashed potatoes, and then spread the entire mixture on a baking pan. Crank up the heat to a toasty 350F, until the insides of the potatoes are about 170F. This should take about 30 minutes.
If I let my mashed potatoes sit for more than the two hour period, and then I eat it, am I getting food poisoning?
Yes, you could get a nasty case of food poisoning because the two hour period has already given harmful bacteria enough time to multiply.
How can I tell if my mashed potatoes are getting bad?
Unfortunately, despite how well you store it, it’s bound to get bad, especially if it’s been kept for a long period of time.
The first thing to look out for is the strange appearance. If it looks shiny in some parts or have some patches of dry bits, then it’s gone bad.
I’m not advising you to even taste it but, coming from those who have, bad mashed potatoes taste very off. It also looks slightly discolored, smells very much different, and could start growing moulds.
It’s also important to know that if there’s any dairy mixture, your mashed potatoes will go bad much quicker.
If I reheat my mashed potatoes, can I store it back again?
No, you can’t, and you shouldn’t. This is why it’s best to take out the one you want to eat at that point in time, which is why I recommended storing your mashed potatoes in compartments.
What are some other things I can do with my leftover mashed potatoes?
You could add some cheese and other seasonings. Works best for plain mashed potatoes
You could stir some mashed potatoes into a cream based soup to thicken it. However, if the mashed potatoes already have cheese in it, don’t add it into the soup, it’ll give the soup a strange texture.
You could make potato patties, as well as baked mashed potato fingers.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why does adding dairy products make my mashed potatoes spoil quicker?
Well, dairy products contain a lot of fats and protein. These don’t do too well with heat or even room temperature.
Exactly how long can I store mashed potatoes in the freezer before it becomes totally bad to eat?
Surprisingly, you could store mashed potatoes in the freezer for close to a year. You heard me.
However, like I said earlier, the best period of time to get it at its best taste is within a month.
It’s not very easy to prepare a perfect amount of mashed potatoes, and in a lot of cases, we end up cooking it in excess.
Fortunately, we don’t have to waste the leftovers as we can put them in the fridge (which could last up to 5 days), or in the freezer (which could go as high as a year).