Bowl with mashed potatoes
| |

Do Mashed Potatoes Go Bad If Left Out?

This post may contain affiliate links which means that, if you choose to make a purchase, I may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you.

It would be difficult to find someone who doesn’t like mashed potatoes. They’re also great for meeting our daily carb needs. It’s natural for anyone to not be able to get enough of a delicious meal like this. But, what happens if you keep it out for too long? This leads to the question, do mashed potatoes go bad if left out?

A general rule of thumb for any hot food is that it will not go bad if you leave it outside for around two hours. You can only keep it out for that long if the temperature is at least 135 degrees F. Any temperature lower than that will help bacteria thrive in your food. Mashed potatoes mixed with milk will help bacteria multiply every hour.

So, is that all there is for you to know about mashed potatoes? Nope, there is more! Firstly, you have to know whether they have gone bad in the first place. And if you prefer cooking mashed potatoes with dairy ingredients, you should be aware of how this can spoil the dish. Luckily, we’ve done the work for you and discovered why leaving them out for a long period of time can ruin them.

How Would You Know If Mashed Potatoes Are Spoiled?

Even after storing it in the best possible condition, you cannot stop it from turning bad. This applies to mashed potatoes if they are left out for too long. But, how can you tell if they are spoiled? Let’s find out!

1. It Does Not Look Good

A delicious and creamy mashed potato always looks a bit golden when you take it off the stove. In addition to that, you will also notice a sheen of milk or butter that you have added to it. This is how freshly cooked mashed potatoes should look. However, if you keep it out in the open for about an hour, the golden hue will fade away and it will turn yellowish.

If you leave it out for more than two hours, it will begin to develop moldy patches. The dish will also start to get all liquidy as the solid parts will separate from the water. You will also notice a white fluid floating on the surface.

2. It Smells Funny

You may have heard that taking a sniff is the way to go for mashed potatoes that don’t look that great. However, that is not necessarily true because the dish may still appear fine while the smell is unpleasant. 

This usually happens as a result of the fermentation process. Besides, if you have added molded cheese to it, there’s a good chance that it will smell a bit weird after a while. 

3. There Is A Sour Taste To It

Though it might not be the best option, you still go for a taste test. Just make sure not to go for a spoonful of mashed potato. Instead, scoop a tiny amount using the tip of the spoon, and it should do the job.

If the first taste does not give away the answer, you can go for a second try. Spoiled mashed potatoes have a sour taste to them. So, if the potato has even the slightest hint of sour to it, throwing it away would be the best option.

When Do Mashed Potatoes Become Inedible?  

According to the Food Safety Council, leaving any cooked food out at room temperature for somewhere more than two hours can become unsafe to eat. And mashed potatoes are not the exception – the same rule applies here.

There is a bacteria called Bacillus Cereus, which is tasteless, odorless, and colorless. Not to mention, it is a type of microbe that thrives in meals with starchy foods, especially mashed potatoes. Saving the worst for the last, consuming it will lead to diarrhea and food poisoning. 

Apart from that, you might already know that meat and mashed potatoes should never be combined. Because combining the two ingredients will cause them to spoil much faster than you would expect.

If you are still confused, starchy meals are the breeding grounds for bacteria to thrive. The worst temperature for storing mashed potatoes is anywhere between 40 and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Any temperature in the range between these two can draw harmful bacteria that can multiply in the blink of an eye.

Can Mashed Potatoes Go Bad If Made With Dairy Products?

Mashed potatoes with milk

Most of the dairy products we use in our everyday life have lower water content and more fat. As a result, it makes thriving super easy for bacteria as they can quickly multiple under these characteristics.

That is why opened cartons or packs of butter or milk must be kept in the refrigerator. The lower temperatures help to keep it fresh and safe for consumption. If you leave it outside of the fridge, the milk will be exposed to bacteria. As a result, that will convert lactose into galactose and glucose. You’d be left with nothing but lactic acid afterward.

Listeria monocytogenes, on the other hand, is a bacteria found in unpasteurized soft cheese. Furthermore, it reaches its peak in cooler temperatures and multiplies quickly. Even though this bacteria is not harmful to everyone, it can be a serious threat to the elderly and pregnant women.

It can cause fatal food poisoning as well as miscarriages. With that being said, if you intend to make your mashed potatoes with dairy ingredients, think twice. However, butter is safe to consume when paired with mashed potatoes but don’t go overboard with it. Always stick to the amount mentioned in the recipe.

There is no doubt that the dairy in mashed potatoes is producing bacteria if you have left them out for too long. And they are multiplying as you are reading this. Keep in mind that food poisoning is a serious disease, and eating spoiled mashed potatoes may cause more harm than you can imagine.

What Can You Do To Prevent Mashed Potatoes From Spoiling?

Things almost always run late on Thanksgiving, whether you invite some people over or just celebrate with your family. Maybe you are already done with the mashed potatoes while the other dishes are still on the stove. Now, what can you do to stop it from going bad?

First things first, never keep them out on the table at room temperature for two hours or more. It does not even have to be mashed. Always put any dish of cooked potatoes in the freezer to extend their shelf life and prevent the growth of harmful bacteria.

Do not forget to store the dish in an airtight, clean container or sealable plastic bag. You can store mashed potatoes in the freezer for around three to five days if preserved correctly. Additionally, you can try freezing it. They can be safely stored in the freezer for over a year!

Once you take it out and defrost, you can continue to store it in the refrigerator for an extra three to four days. But, keep in mind that once you defrost and reheat the mashed potatoes, you need to eat it all right away. Having any leftovers would not be a great idea. 

Lastly, when you reheat it, remember to cook it to the temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. That way, it will ensure that all the toxic and harmful bacteria have ceased to exist. So, stir it thoroughly to ensure even heat distribution.

Similar Posts