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Forgetting to put leftovers in the fridge can be devastating, and it may be more tempting to keep certain leftovers while it is easier to throw out others, but it may still be unsafe to keep them.
It is not safe to eat cheesecake after it has been left out overnight. The longest amount of time cheesecake should be out of a refrigerated environment is 6 hours. Cheesecake is a perishable food because the protein content traps moisture, allowing for bacteria to infect the dessert at a fast pace.
Cheesecake is a beloved dessert throughout America. It can be devastating when you have realized that you left it out all night, though. It is well known that keeping cheesecake out can be bad, but will the power going out to affect your cheesecake staying edible?
What Ingredients make Cheesecake Perishable
Cheesecake is a perishable dessert, primarily because of two key ingredients: milk and eggs. It is often believed that the reason one cannot eat something that has been left out when it contains these ingredients is because of the dairy used, but it is much more than just the dairy.
Dairy indeed curdles when it is left at warmer temperatures. When is it baked into something, though, you do not need to worry about the milk curdling because it already had the reaction it needed to have while it was baking in the oven.
The real reason something cannot be left out overnight and eaten if it includes ingredients like milk and eggs is because of the protein that is used in the recipe.
What role does Protein Play?
Protein is important to one’s daily diet, yes, but it has a larger role in baking than one might think. Protein acts as a dough conditioner helps keep the structure and controls the amount of moisture that is held.
As a dough conditioner, the protein in eggs helps improve the texture of something you are baking. Eggs are natural leavening agents as well.
Eggs also have 3 key functions when they are used in baking. Primarily, eggs are used to make sure air is taken into the batter. Second, eggs help emulsify ingredients. This means they are also used to help ingredients mix and stay together that would not do so normally. Eggs also help bind the ingredients together.
Eggs are intensely high in protein content, though. When something is high in protein content, it will go bad faster if it is not kept at cold temperatures. Because of the protein content, For this reason, it is important to keep perishable foods in the refrigerator.
Protein and Moisture
Protein and moisture together can also have very negative effects on food. For example, in cheesecake, the moisture and the protein is what makes the cheesecake go bad quickly.
Bacteria need water to survive, just like people do. Bacteria will be quicker to attack foods with more moisture to obtain the nutrients needed to survive.
When a food has a lower moisture content like flour, bacteria will not attack it as quickly as it will attack something like a dairy product.
Moisture can also be caused by the protein. In food, a protein is meant to hold moisture in, keeping the food in a desirable place. When food goes bad, though, the protein will not do its job as well anymore. One indication of this is water droplets on top of what has been made. This may just be condensation from the refrigerator, however, if you have kept that food past when it should be disposed of, it is time to get rid of it.
Proteins will also pull in moisture because that is what a protein does. When the proteins begin to pull in moisture, it gives easy access to the bacteria to attack the food. It invites them in.
How Long You Can Keep Cheesecake Out Before it Goes Bad
Cheesecake will go bad when it is out of the fridge for longer than 2 hours. According to foodsafety.gov, it is unsafe to keep cheesecake after it has been left out, or even after the power has been out in your community. In the article linked, they include other kinds of foods that should be discarded after they are left out.
Cheesecake, if it is refrigerated, can last up to 7 days, if it is store-bought. The longest it will last if it is homemade is 5 days. If it is being kept in the fridge, it needs to be tightly covered to prevent cross-contamination, smelling bad, and drying out. Cheesecake, unlike normal cheese, does not keep as long.
A good way to know if any food is still okay to eat is to test the texture. If the texture seems different, it is probably a good idea to throw it out.
How to Keep Cheesecake from Going Bad
To prevent Cheesecake and other foods with a high protein level safe to eat, it is important to heat them to at least 160°F and then keep them in a refrigerator. The refrigerator will not prevent bacteria from growing, but it can slow the process of bacteria growing on your food.
The majority of bacteria that can grow in cold temperatures will grow much slower in the cold if it grows at all. Freezing something or keeping something in the refrigerator will not prevent bacteria from growing completely, but it can slow it down and preserve food longer than if it was kept out. The cold prevents bacteria from overtaking something, but it does not halt the process completely.
If the cheesecake is left out in a room temperature environment, it will go bad because the bacteria will be able to access it easily, even if it is covered. Bacteria grows when it is left in a room-temperature environment. Bacteria is only slowed with cold and heat.
Leaving cheesecake out and trying to eat it the next day will make you sick. To be safe, always keep your cheesecake in the refrigerator. The bacterias that can enter your body through eating food that has spoiled can bring about serious illness.