The safest place for pumpkin pie is probably in your belly, but let's just say you get full tomorrow and can't quite polish off the whole thing.  Is it safe to let it sit on the counter, or should you refrigerate it?

My grandma was a baker and cranked out pie after pie every Thanksgiving when I was growing up.  And in fact, she made it a goal to make "one pie per person."  She wanted everyone at Thanksgiving dinner to see at least one of their favorites on the table so she just kept baking pies until she was confident of that.  We had two pumpkins, two pecans, plus an apple, cherry, peach, and butterscotch meringue every Thanksgiving (and sometimes an experimental chocolate one), and the only one she ever refrigerated was the butterscotch meringue.  The rest of them sat on the counter until they were gone, which usually wasn't more than a day or two.  None of us ever got sick and she's 99 years old and counting, so either bacteria are very afraid of my grandma, or any health risks never materialized.

So what's best?  The Huffington Post did some pie research and figured out how long the average pie will keep and where it should be stored.

The Post said most fruit pies can be stored safely for 3-4 days in a refrigerator and up to 1-2 months in a freezer.  Apparently, there is enough sugar in a fruit pie to keep the bacteria from growing, so those pies can be kept at room temperature without worrying about spoilage.  Who knew sugar was so powerful.

Pumpkin and pecan pies can be frozen for up to two months, but it's a bit risky because their fillings might separate and their crusts can get soggy.  Any pies with custard or chiffon should not be frozen but can be stored for 3-4 days in a fridge.  Generally, pumpkin, pecan, custard pies will last 3-4 days in the refrigerator.  And  the Huffington Post said, “Pies that should be refrigerated should not be left out more than two hours or one hour in air temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.”

Okay, we'll do our best.  Thanksgiving Day is a grazing day, and sometimes we lose track of how long the pies have been sitting on the counter.  And really, no one seems to want to expend energy pulling anything out of the fridge and locating the Cool Whip, so it's easiest to leave everything out for a few hours to see if there are any more takers. We'll get it in the fridge after one more sliver.

If pies aren't consumed within a few days they start to get soggy and not so fresh tasting, so it's best to polish them off as close to Thanksgiving as possible.  That sounds like a really fun goal to set for the weekend.

Don't forget the Cool Whip.  And have a very Happy Thanksgiving.