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A Guide to Freezing Christmas Dinner Leftovers

After enjoying your Christmas dinner feast with family and friends, it is common to have leftovers. To minimise food waste and make your Christmas foods go further, your leftovers can be prepared and frozen to use in future meals.

In this article, we have created a guide to freezing your Christmas leftover turkey and veggies. Read on to learn tips on how to freeze your leftover:

If you're looking for tips on cooking the perfect Christmas meal, you'll love our article The Quest for the Perfect Christmas Dinner. Alternatively, for Boxing Day meal ideas using leftovers, you can see our curated selection of our favourite recipes in our Delicious Christmas Dinner Leftovers article.

 

Freezing Leftover Turkey

Providing that the turkey you cooked was fresh and unfrozen, the leftovers from your Christmas meal can be frozen for future meals. It is essential when refrigerating cooked meats that they have cooled to 21°C within two hours of cooking to prevent bacteria growth. The meat should be cooled before being placed into your fridge so that the fridge temperature doesn't rise and compromise the safety of other foods. Separating the leftover turkey into individual portioned containers will help the meat cool.

Remember to consider which recipes you will be cooking with your leftovers. For soups, curries, risottos and stews you will want to shred or chop the turkey into chunks before freezing. If you are planning to save the turkey for another roast dinner, cut the turkey into slices, then pour a little gravy on top before you seal the plastic container. Adding gravy keeps the turkey moist when you heat it up again. You can find out more about freezing gravy later in this article.

When storing the meat, make sure to use airtight containers or freezer bags labelled with the meat type and date cooked. Alternatively, a vacuum drawer appliance can be used to remove the air and oxygen from your food, preserve flavours and maximise freezer capacity. To ensure the meat freezes at the correct temperature and in the correct time, place the cooled turkey meat in the fridge before freezing to reach -5°C within four hours.

Cooked turkey can last between four and six months in the freezer.

Freezing Vegetables

Freezing your veggies should largely follow the principles above to ensure safe food hygiene practices. The main consideration is that not all cooked vegetables freeze well.

When freezing your cooked vegetables, it all comes down to which recipes you are planning to use them in. Generally speaking, cooked carrots, swede and parsnips freeze very well and can be used again for roast dinners. However, frozen cooked sprouts and roast potatoes are put to better use in stews and mash, or to make bubble and squeak. Frozen roast potatoes can also make delicious hash browns.

Freezing Gravies and Stocks

Creating your homemade Christmas gravy is a labour of love,  the culmination of hours of food preparation. Why not preserve the taste of Christmas a little longer by freezing your leftover gravy for another day? A Christmas treasure that can be used to invigorate a family roast in 2021.

The key to freezing gravy is to try and use as little fat, milk, or cream as possible when you prepare it as these ingredients tend to separate when the gravy is thawing. A good tip to reduce separation is to run the gravy quickly through a food processor before you put it into a freezer-safe container. A gravy thickened by flour can remain frozen in an airtight container for up to four months without a noticeable loss in quality.

When you want to use your gravy again, you can thaw your frozen gravy in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat it slowly in a saucepan over medium-low heat, constantly whisking to prevent lumps. If your gravy begins to separate, add water, or stock and whisk vigorously.

Bonus Tip

Ice cube trays are perfect for storing handy portions of stocks, fresh herbs, wine, milk, and gravy. Ice cube portions are ideal for adding flavour to recipes straight from the freezer, defrosting into hot sauces and soups.

This Christmas, consider freezing any leftover herbs, wine or gravy to drop into future meals.

We hope that you have enjoyed our tips for freezing Christmas day leftovers. With proper storing and freezing practices, or delicious recipes using leftovers, you can make your Christmas meal go further, reduce food waste and enjoy the taste of Christmas into 2021.

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