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Old 11-20-2014, 08:27 AM   #1
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How long can you leave cooked pasta out?

I made a batch of it today intending to freeze it later, but I got caught up doing other things and it was about 2 hours after I made it that I noticed. What I normally do is not to put the pasta in the freezer just after it's been made (since I don't want the heat to affect the other food inside) but then I forget about it and leave it out for too long. :(

This has happened more than once and I've had to throw out the pasta on more than one occasion, which is quite a shame sometimes as there is a large surplus. However, I've recently been thinking that I am being a bit too cautious and throwing out food that can be used at a later date.

How long would you say is the maximum time pasta can be kept out in the open? If I boil it thoroughly after freezing it (which I plan on doing) will that help much?

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Old 11-20-2014, 09:37 AM   #2
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I assume you drained the pasta and it sat at room temp for two hours only. You should be OK. I have no idea how long you can leave it out safely.
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Old 11-20-2014, 10:32 AM   #3
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Macaroni consists of flour and water, so there isn't much in there that can go bad.


Restaurants will cook up a huge batch of macaroni and leave it sitting in the scula pasta all through the meal service, taking one order out at a time and dunking it in boiling water for a few seconds as it is needed.
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Old 11-20-2014, 10:45 AM   #4
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When you boiled it for all that time, you pasteurized it. (Not necessarily sterilized. Boiling as not a wholly effective sterilization technique.) So the bacteria count is very low. And it's unlikely that anything dangerous would take hold, even if it sat out for days, although it would no doubt be unappetizing, probably from harmless mold.

The actual dangers from food contamination are almost always the result of handlers transferring fecal bacteria to precooked or raw foods that won't be cooked or improper anaerobic preservation that creates a potential for botulism.
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Old 11-20-2014, 10:50 PM   #5
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>When you boiled it for all that time, you pasteurized it.

Do you mean when I initially made the pasta?

In any case, thanks for the replies! It's good to know it's probably safe to eat (which is what I will do today) I learnt some of my cooking from my dad, to whom "when in doubt, throw it out" was a mantra...not a bad one per se, but I think he probably got too overzealous with it. Old habits die hard, but luckily I have the forums to help me with them. :)
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Old 11-21-2014, 12:08 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rianthe View Post
>When you boiled it for all that time, you pasteurized it.

Do you mean when I initially made the pasta?

In any case, thanks for the replies! It's good to know it's probably safe to eat (which is what I will do today) I learnt some of my cooking from my dad, to whom "when in doubt, throw it out" was a mantra...not a bad one per se, but I think he probably got too overzealous with it. Old habits die hard, but luckily I have the forums to help me with them. :)
BTW, welcome to Dc. If you have a question, we have an answer. We are always glad to help. This is a fun and informative forum. We tell stories, sometimes we get off track, but that all right. Someone will bring us back to the subject at hand.
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Old 11-21-2014, 09:39 AM   #7
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If you look at food safety requirements, there is the 2 hour rule.
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Old 11-21-2014, 10:35 AM   #8
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You're not talking about the sauce, are you?
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Old 11-21-2014, 11:29 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by Sir_Loin_of_Beef View Post
Macaroni consists of flour and water, so there isn't much in there that can go bad.
Cooked macaroni can go bad because bacteria feed on the starches. As CWS said, restaurant food-safety rules say two hours is the limit for leaving food out. After that, bacteria can begin to grow quickly at room temperature.
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Old 11-21-2014, 01:17 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rianthe View Post
>When you boiled it for all that time, you pasteurized it.

Do you mean when I initially made the pasta?

In any case, thanks for the replies! It's good to know it's probably safe to eat (which is what I will do today) I learnt some of my cooking from my dad, to whom "when in doubt, throw it out" was a mantra...not a bad one per se, but I think he probably got too overzealous with it. Old habits die hard, but luckily I have the forums to help me with them. :)
Yes. You boiled the pasta for several minutes, which is sufficient to bring the bacteria count way down. Again, something like pasta is going to get unappetizing long before it presents any danger. Recommendations are always very conservative and simplistic. For instance, temperatures to which you're supposed to cook various meats. The temperatures were selected to present a simple rule for simple minds. If you follow them, you won't go wrong, but pasteurization (which is what we're usually after with food cooking safety) is a scale with an infinite combination of times and temperatures, all ending up with the same reduction in bacteria. Doesn't, of course, mean it will be appetizing. You can cook chicken at 120F for enough time and it's pasteurized, but it's not chicken most of us would want to serve.

And I want restaurants to practice conservative food safety. There, you have to consider that food is being handled by people whose personal cleanliness may be questionable, and you don't want to grow the bugs they are contributing.
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