How long can I leave coleslaw and potato salad out?

Crunchy Buttermilk Coleslawenlarge
Creamy buttermilk and fragrant fresh ginger lend bold flavor to this crunchy side. It's the perfect foil to spicy barbecue sauces. Recipe: Crunchy Buttermilk Coleslaw

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If you have a cooking question, our expert, Marge Perry, can answer it. Marge teaches home cooks in her classes at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York City. She is an award-winning food writer, longtime contributor for Cooking Light and a number of other leading food magazines, author of the blog A Sweet and Savory Life, columnist for Newsday, and has contributed to over 20 cookbooks.

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"How long can I leave coleslaw or potato salad  made with mayonnaise out at my barbecue?" 

Contrary to what most people believe, salads made with bottled mayonnaise are not more fragile than other foods. As with any food, you don’t want to leave it out more than two hours (and if it is very hot, make that one hour for all foods).

There is actually some evidence that commercial mayonnaise can help prevent or delay spoilage, thanks to vinegar, lemon juice and salt, which act as very mild preservatives. But again, never exceed the two-hour rule for any food.


For more information on keeping foods safe, see No-Risk Picnics. 


Recipe in photo: Crunchy Buttermilk Coleslaw


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