How long can a cooked spinach pie (spanakopita) last at room temp?
February 11, 2018 11:12 AM   Subscribe

Visiting a family member in a nursing home this afternoon and bringing her favorite treat: spinach pie. Problem: she has no way to refrigerate it, and would like to save the leftovers for a day or two. Realistically, how long can spinach pie last at room temperature without going bad?

I assume that the eggs and feta will cause a bacterial issue, but thought I'd check just to be sure.

There is no refrigerator for residents. I have asked the facility to refrigerate food for her in the past and they have not been able to do so. Please don't suggest this.
posted by zarq to Food & Drink (10 answers total)
Personally, I wouldn't have any issue with eating a room-temperature spanakopita after a day or two. I'd be more concerned about it tasting stale rather than it killing me. Do you have or can you buy a small lunch cooler bag and stick the spanakopita in there with a small icepack? That should keep it cool for a day or two with no problems.
posted by emelenjr at 11:21 AM on February 11, 2018 [6 favorites]

Maybe cut it up into single portion servings, put it in little containers and get a Styrofoam cooler and some ice packs? That might be the most efficient way to manage it. I would definitely be concerned about an older person with a maybe not great immune system eating unrefrigerated spinach pie. (MAN, I haven't had spanakopita in FOREVER.)
posted by Aquifer at 11:25 AM on February 11, 2018 [10 favorites]

The cooler and icepack is the way to go but there's no guarantee that it will not disappear by tomorrow.
posted by mightshould at 11:27 AM on February 11, 2018

I would eat it, I have eaten it and I don't even think about it.

My wife and I were just discussing this, if we think about it .. Hmm not such a good idea. But we've both done it without question in the moment and lived to tell the tale.

Also likely to do it again.
posted by AlexiaSky at 11:41 AM on February 11, 2018
(emphasis mine)
Leaving food out too long at room temperature can cause bacteria (such as Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella, E. coli O157:H7, and Campylobacter) to grow to dangerous levels that can cause illness.

Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes. This range of temperatures is often called the “Danger Zone.” Perishable foods left at room temperature for more than two hours should be discarded. If temperatures are above 90 °F perishable foods should not be left out longer than one hour. Discard food after one hour if the temperature is above 90 °F.
posted by General Malaise at 11:59 AM on February 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

It's winter. Is your outside temp 40 degrees or less? Can you keep it overnight on a Tupperware on the window sill or in the car trunk?
posted by BlueHorse at 12:23 PM on February 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

Based on the food safety training I've done in the past, food can be left in the danger zone for 4 - 6 hours without much risk. Keep in mind that this is the total number of hours that it can left in the zone over the whole life of the food.

This is the Australian recommendation:

"Total time limit between 5°C and 60°C

Less than 2 hours:

Refrigerate or use immediately

Between 2 hours and 4 hours:

Use immediately

More than 4 hours:

Throw out"

I would definitely not recommend that a person in a nursing home eat food that's been left out for a "day or two". Holy shit.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 1:19 PM on February 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

I wound up bringing salad and spinach pie, but not leaving leftovers. Safer. Thank you, everyone. I appreciate your responses.


Label the leftovers with her name and the date and give it to the staff to refrigerate. I’m sure they will accommodate you.

No, they won't.

Repeating myself, from the text of my post above: "There is no refrigerator for residents. I have asked the facility to refrigerate food for her in the past and they have not been able to do so. Please don't suggest this."
posted by zarq at 2:29 PM on February 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

Bring some that is warm, for today, and if she has a way to heat it, some that is well-frozen and will be defrosted by tomorrow morning. Even so, I would put it in an insulated container, maybe with a frozen bottle of water. Old people are at greater risk of harm from good poisoning.
posted by theora55 at 3:19 PM on February 11, 2018

I donated a frig to the care center my Mom is in, now the residents can keep some of the goodies their families bring. I also keep a bowl in the frig stocked with fresh fruit, Mom often wants something fresh, gets tired of the canned fruit and she shares with other residents.
posted by IpsoFacto at 3:52 PM on February 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

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