Plus, we explain how you can tell if it's no longer safe to eat.

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Whether you plan to serve family-favorite casseroles and gratins or want to try a few brand-new recipes alongside your turkey this year, there's one dish that no Thanksgiving dinner would be complete without: Gravy. It tops everything from mashed potatoes to that glorious roast turkey, and because it is so often made in a big batch, you'll likely have plenty of excess gravy left at the end of the meal to enjoy with your leftovers. But how long will gravy last stored in the refrigerator? We asked a food safety expert for insights.

Signs of Spoiled Gravy

First and foremost, it's important to note that gravy does expire, and that goes for homemade varieties in addition to store-bought. "If you purchase a jar of gravy from the grocer, you can follow the 'Best If Used By' or 'Use By' date stamped on the label or package to consume the gravy at its best quality (color, consistency, taste)," says Tamika Sims, PhD, the senior director at the Food Technology Communications at the International Food Information Council. "However, for both store-bought gravy and gravy made (with or without meat and poultry) at home, there are some signs of spoilage that should be adhered to for good food safety measures." Start assessing if your gravy has gone bad by looking for visible cues: the texture and color. Abnormally soft, slimly, moldy, or discolored gravy means it's spoiled. Even if you remove the slime or mold, Sims explains that leftover microbes can still potentially cause a foodborne illness.

Let's say you have canned gravy that hasn't been opened. If the can itself is swollen, then its contents are likely spoiled and should be tossed. That's not the only reason cans might appear abnormal, though, so investigating the gravy itself with the methods above will be helpful. If you simply cannot tell if your canned gravy is spoiled, contact the company for more information. "Lastly, if you are still unsure, it is best to disregard the food and toss it in the trash," she adds. "Do not try to repurpose it for anyone's (including a pet's) consumption."

Turkey gravy for Thanksgiving
Credit: VeselovaElena

How Long Will Gravy Last?

The amount of time that homemade or store-bought gravy will last depends on storage; properly-stored gravy, which includes sealing it in an air-tight container or jar or in a covered dish with plastic wrap, should last at least a few days this way. Per the Food and Drug Administration, gravy and meat broth can be stored in a refrigerator for one to two days or in the freezer for two to three months. If the gravy is prepared with only vegetables, you can treat as you would a soup or stew. This gravy can be stored in a refrigerator for three to four days and in a freezer for two to three months.

Sims adds that you should store any store-bought gravy based on the directions on the label. "If you add the gravy to a meat and poultry dish, you will need to treat it like the homemade gravy that would be prepped using meat and poultry," she says.

Consume at Your Discretion

Sims suggests using your discretion when it comes to deciding when it's time throw away any food. "It should be safe to consume a food beyond its date label if it has been properly stored," she notes. "However, consumers should regularly evaluate their pantry and refrigerator, monitor any changes in texture and smell, and use their best judgement."

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