Got yourself some leftover macaroni salad from a big event? Maybe you overestimated the number of guests. No worries. We have all been there. But the question is, what would you do with all that macaroni salad? We don’t want to throw your food into the trash, right? Then, why not just store it in the refrigerator for the following days. But how long does macaroni salad last in the refrigerator?
Macaroni salad can last for three to five days in the refrigerator. You can avoid the bacteria attack for a few more days by putting it into an airtight or zip-lock bag. If you can store it in the deep freezer, it will stay fresh for around four months.
That was just a small preview of what we will discuss in the later segments of this article. Besides knowing the time threshold, you’ll learn the correct way to store macaroni salad in the refrigerator. So, sit tight. Because we are ready to jump.
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How long does Macaroni Salad last in the Refrigerator?
You can preserve the homemade macaroni salad in the refrigerator for three to five days with ease. If you have mixed up the pasta and salad together, it would be hard to prevent the mold and other germs for five days. Try to finish within 48 to 72 hours.
However, the salad has a good chance of surviving till the fifth day if you keep the dressing in a separate bowl. But here’s the catch. If you are not careful from the beginning, the salad will smell bad within two hours. The ideal temperature for germs to grow is between 40 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Especially if it’s summer in your area, the germs/microbes will show up even sooner.
But how long can you keep macaroni salad outside the fridge? The answer would be two hours (maximum). It’s dangerous to keep the salad at room temperature for more than two hours. If the temperature is more than 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the time limit will be reduced to 1 hour only.
What is the right way to store Macaroni Salad?
Now that we know how long macaroni salad lasts, let’s try to push the boundary a bit. Yes, you can do it by following some simple rules. However, the best option is to avoid any kind of leftover. Because there is a high chance that the nutrition value within the salad will be ruined over time.
That being said, if you can’t avoid the leftovers, follow this guide to increase the macaroni salad shelf life.
- Try to avoid placing soggy pasta into the fridge. It contains way too much moisture and invites all the bacteria sooner than expected. So, the first rule is to hard boil the macaroni and rinse it with cold water. Then, wait for some time till it reaches the normal room temperature. Never put hot pasta into the fridge in a desperate attempt to save it.
- You can expand the macaroni shelf life by just separating the salad dressing from the pasta. We suggest you keep the ingredients like mayonnaise, ham, mustard, etc. away from the cooked pasta. If you need more on the table, just mix it up again. This will be a tedious job, no doubt. But, the bacteria will take a long time to attack the food even if it stays outside the refrigerator.
- Don’t worry if you have already mixed the salad with the macaroni. You can still store it. Use an airtight container to prevent any kind of air inflow. Besides, you can seal the serving bowl with a plastic wrapper. Both techniques work similarly. It’s up to you what you choose.
- Avoid placing anything on top of the salad bowl. It might lead to a slight leakage without you knowing. And the air is the primary growth factor for various micro-bacteria.
How to tell whether the Macaroni Salad is bad or not?
Your Macaroni salad can still go bad after following the above rules. You might have overcooked the pasta or processed it in the wrong way. Whatever the reason might be, you can’t eat it anymore. It can lead to food poisoning or a bad stomach, at least. That’s why, to be cautious, you need to know the signs.
- First of all, check whether any mold appears on the salad. The process starts right when the germs find both moisture and air in the salad bowl. They start breaking the nutrition chain and feed themselves. That’s how you end up with the food wrapped in a disgusting mold.
- If you don’t see any mold, smell it before tasting. If you get an odd smell, that food is not okay to eat. This smell is just the byproduct of what the microbes are originally producing within the food. So, if you detect such a rotten smell, discard that food immediately.
- Suppose you don’t find any mold or bad smell in the macaroni salad. You can now take a small portion to taste. Be aware of actually chewing and then swallowing it. Just use your tongue to identify the flavor. If you taste a strong flavor, spit it out quickly. Macaroni salad is not supposed to taste like that.
- Now, if the salad passes this three-step test, it’s time to heat it. Once it becomes hot enough, do the smell test again. Sometimes it is hard to identify the smell when the food is just out of the refrigerator.
Imagine you stored the huge bowl of macaroni salad only to find a mold growing on it the next day. That’s a waste of all your efforts. You can follow our storage guide to properly seal and preserve the macaroni salad for at least five more days. And, before serving it to your family, do all the tests we mentioned here to identify whether it’s bad or not. You can never be too careful with tasting food.
Hope you got the answer to how long macaroni salad lasts in the refrigerator. Happy cooking!