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How to Handle Leftover Pizza

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I was pondering today’s blog topic while I was on the phone with one of my coworkers — an illustrator and all around smart fellow — when he asked, “How about something to do with pizza leftovers? Like, is it safe to eat pizza that’s been sitting out overnight? And, if you’re reheating pizza leftovers, how do you get that same fresh pizza taste and texture the next day?”

OK, first things first, it’s really not a good idea to eat any leftover perishables that have been sitting out overnight, including pizza. Even if you’ve done it before without getting sick, it’s better to be safe than sorry — so don’t tempt fate again. Sure it might look, smell and even taste fine, but that doesn’t mean you can rule out the presence of dangerous foodborne bacteria, which can make you sick. Ideally, you should refrigerate perishable leftovers within two hours of preparation. To save space and keep them from taking on unwanted flavors from nearby refrigerator neighbors, securely wrap leftover pieces of pizza in kitchen wrap or stow them in an airtight storage container and place them as far back in the fridge as possible, where it’s coldest. Stored this way, those leftover slices should be OK for consumption for up to three or four days.

Now that you know how to store a partially eaten pie, let’s talk about making it into a second or third meal. Some consider cold pizza to be the breakfast — or one of them, anyhow — of champions. I must admit, I’ve been known to grab a slice as a quick morning meal. But other folks (like my aforementioned coworker) shudder at the thought. What makes me cringe is pizza leftovers heated in the microwave. Come on folks, it totally ruins the crust. Sure, the toppings get warm and the cheese gets adequately melty but the crust becomes a tough, chewy disaster. To maintain the original crispy texture of the crust, I set the oven to 400 degrees F and heat up a baking stone for approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Then I place the leftover pizza on the stone and bake it for 6 to 8 minutes. If you don’t have a baking stone, you can use a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.

So how do you eat your leftover pizza — hot or cold? And if you like it hot, are you a microwave or regular oven re-heater?

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