Check The Ingredients In Your Pie Before Leaving It Out On The Counter

Remember how in old-timey movies and stories sweet elderly neighbors would often leave pies cooling on their kitchen windowsills? The image is certainly picturesque, but while we're not trying to burst anyone's bubble, the harsh truth is leaving a pie out like that might also be dangerous.

A freshly baked pie is one of life's simple pleasures. Whether you're making the most of the summer berry season or preparing a savory treat for that post-Thanksgiving meal, pies hold more meaning than just a dessert to dive into. Still, it's imperative that you follow food safety precautions when preparing this dish — otherwise, you could be looking at a number of unhappy guests who accidentally come down with food poisoning. Long story short: If a pie contains perishable ingredients, keep it in the refrigerator. If it's only loaded with fruit, feel free to leave it on the counter ... or place it in that kitchen window.

Perishable ingredients must be refrigerated

When we first learn cooking and baking basics, food safety should be top of mind. We find out when (and for how long) to wash our hands after handling raw meat; how to recognize when chicken is fully cooked and when it needs more time, and not to leave a cup of milk in the sun for more than two hours. These are all examples of basic food safety, and pies that contain perishable ingredients are not exempt from these rules.

Anything that involves dairy, such as custard, cream, or cheese, must be refrigerated and should not be kept at room temperature for more than two hours. Pies containing eggs, such as quiche, should follow the same rule. Once you refrigerate a pie and make sure it's effectively wrapped, the U.S. Department of Agriculture says it can last between three and four days in the refrigerator.

Fruit pies can stand at room temperature

When it comes to room temperature, fruit pies have a longer shelf life. Baked fruit doesn't perish anywhere near as quickly as dairy and eggs, so they can sit on the kitchen counter for up to two days before they need to be refrigerated. There is one caveat: If you live in a climate with exceptionally warm temperatures, refrigerate fruit pies right away. Once you refrigerate it, a fruit pie can keep well for about two extra days, and four days in total. But on a cool fall day, feel free to let that fresh pie scent waft through the kitchen window.

If you're interested in making a fruit pie, almost any berry will suffice, as will apples, of course. Still, some fruit holds better than others. Apples, peaches, and cherries are excellent pie fillings because the fruit keeps through the baking and cooling process. Though berry pies such as strawberry-rhubarb pie are a staple, fruit can also get a bit too mushy when it's cooked.