How Long Can Candied Yams Sit Out in a Buffet?

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On the dinner table or a complement to a fancy buffet, candied yams may cause foodborne illness if they remain at room temperature for extended periods of time. All perishables must be eaten or refrigerated within two hours of preparation and candied yams are no exception. While it’s unlikely that the sweetly glazed tubers last longer than the recommended safe period, pry any remaining leftovers away from your guests and pop them into your refrigerator -- or reheat them -- to keep them safe to eat.

Two-Hour Max

  • Bacteria live on the surface of food -- cooked or not. Any bacteria that survives after baking, continues to grow on your candied yams. In temperatures above 40 degrees, bacteria thrive and may reach dangerous levels once the two-hour safe period passes. If your buffet is set in balmy temperatures of 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above, bacteria grows even faster, meaning that your candied yams must be eaten within the hour.

Safe in the Fridge

  • Within the two hour safe period -- one hour in temperatures above 90 F – remove the candied yams from the buffet table and spoon all of the sweet goodness into a plastic container with a tight-fitting lid or a sealed, plastic storage bag. Pop the container in a refrigerator, where the yams can keep for up to four days. By the fourth day, bacteria growth once again becomes an issue, requiring that you finish eating the candied yams that day or throw them away.

Freezing in Time

  • If the fourth day of refrigeration is closing in and you fear that the candied yams won’t make it back to the table, transfer the storage container to the freezer. The zero degree temperature of the freezer halts the growth of bacteria, keeping the candied yams safe to eat indefinitely. Safety aside, you may want to remove and eat the candied yams within 10 months of freezing before quality begins to diminish.

Back to the Buffet

  • Transfer frozen candied yams to the refrigerator to thaw when it comes time to serve them once again. Scoop the refrigerated candied yams into a baking dish and slide it, uncovered, into an oven preheated to 350 F. Bake them for about 15 minutes or until the glaze begins to bubble. Press a cooking thermometer into a few of the yam centers to test the internal temperature. Once the thermometer reads 165 F, the candied yams are ready for the buffet.

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