Pasta recipes are fast, delicious, and filling. That’s the good news. The not-so-great news is that it’s pretty common to cook more than you actually eat. This is especially true when you make pasta. The majority of people cook the entire package of pasta rather than store any leftover spaghetti or macaroni. Besides, a pasta sauce recipe normally uses up an entire package of pasta.
So, if you have more pasta than you can consume at any one sitting, it’s natural to store any leftover pasta in the refrigerator. But for how long?
Not too long or you are in danger of mushy pasta or – worse – food poisoning.
Cooked pasta should be consumed within two to three days. This is the same issue as cooked rice and avoiding food poisoning from eating leftover rice. That means you need to store cooked rice as well as pasta within four hours. Any leftover food including pasta should be not be left at room temperature beyond that time. In fact, if left out for too long bacteria can grow and multiply to dangerous levels. You can avoid this by storing it in the refrigerator.
But wait. You might be thinking that the tomato sauce that you tossed your pasta will preserve your pasta. Unfortunately, it won’t. Pasta is not meat and unlike tomato-based stews, a pasta dish tossed in tomato sauce will not make the dish taste better in a few days or preserve it in any way. In fact, pasta stored in the refrigerator is in danger of one of two things: drying out and turning mushy.
If you ever do have cooked pasta that you do need to store, here is what you do: separate the cooked pasta and the sauce. That’s because the sauce will more likely keep longer than the pasta. This means you can still have your pasta even if you need to cook another batch of pasta noodles to enjoy the flavors you just enjoyed.
Love pasta? Here are recipes to try the next time you feel like eating pasta: