Friday, March 1, 2024

How Lengthy Are Turkey & Different Thanksgiving Leftovers Good within the Fridge?


It’s a couple of hours, possibly a day or two at most after Turkey Day, and also you’re hungry for Thanksgiving leftovers. Or possibly you’re not hungry however you’re craving pumpkin pie. And turkey. And a facet dish or two akin to mashed potatoes and stuffing and inexperienced bean casserole and Grandma’s corn casserole and cornbread and leftover cranberry sauce. You understand, the fixin’s. So that you go to the fridge or the freezer to seize a storage container packed to the brim with turkey leftovers from Thanksgiving dinner and surprise, “Is that this fit for human consumption?” How lengthy do leftover turkey and different Thanksgiving leftovers final?

On Food52, we’ve devoted a contest and lots of, many posts to tips about find out how to let all these Thanksgiving leftovers stay their greatest lives—as a result of consuming leftover Thanksgiving turkey for a complete week straight can put on down even essentially the most avid of poultry followers.

However we additionally turned to James Briscione, the previous Director of Culinary Improvement on the Institute of Culinary Schooling (ICE), simply to ensure our freezer and storage strategies for all our nice leftovers have been sound. Study find out how to retailer Thanksgiving leftovers to maintain them protected indefinitely…or till all of them run out (whichever comes first).

How lengthy is turkey good within the fridge?

Leftover Thanksgiving turkey that’s absolutely cooked will final within the fridge for about 3 to 4 days. As for the freezer, the lifespan of your leftover turkey depends upon the high quality of mentioned freezer. “In case you have a very good freezer that maintains a temp of 0°F or beneath, it’s indefinite,” James says. If the temperature doesn’t waver, the meals stays protected, primarily.

Nevertheless, right here’s the unhealthy information: Most client freezers aren’t in a position to preserve temperatures of 0°F or beneath. They usually don’t shut solidly and, with frequent opening and shutting, the temperature fluctuates. On this case, maintain your leftover turkey within the freezer for six months max after which discard it to keep away from meals poisoning.

In the event you’re nonetheless uncertain whether or not your turkey is fit for human consumption after you have both refrigerated it or defrosted it out of the freezer, James says to “belief your nostril as an indicator of high quality.” If leftovers odor unhealthy, don’t eat them.

How lengthy will the remainder of my Thanksgiving leftovers final?

Again to these different scrumptious Thanksgiving staples like buttery biscuits, cooked greens, and pies, pies, and extra pies. As a rule of Thumb, the USDA says to make use of the Monday after Thanksgiving as a reminder that it’s the final day you may safely eat leftovers. Beneath, learn the way lengthy traditional Thanksgiving leftovers will final in your fridge and freezer.

  • Cranberry sauce: About 2 weeks within the fridge and a pair of months within the freezer.
  • Stuffing: About 4 days within the fridge and a month within the freezer.
  • Pies: A few months within the freezer.
  • Mashed potatoes: Do not freeze these! See why above; as a substitute, make truffles or soup.
  • Cooked greens, together with inexperienced bean casserole: We echo the “do not freeze” sentiment of the mashed potatoes.
  • Bread, like rolls: About 3 months within the freezer. How lengthy they’re going to keep contemporary out of the freezer depends upon the form of bread.

What is the Two-Hour Rule for Storing Turkey and Different Thanksgiving Leftovers?

If it’s nonetheless Turkey Day and also you’re on the point of pack up your leftover Thanksgiving turkey, the United States Division of Agriculture (USDA) reminds hosts to recollect the “two-hour rule” for meals security. In keeping with the USDA, “all perishable gadgets ought to be refrigerated inside two hours of popping out of the oven or fridge.” The reason being that after two hours, perishable meals akin to turkey and stuffing enter what’s generally known as the Hazard Zone, the place foodborne micro organism can rapidly multiply and trigger the meals to grow to be unsafe to eat. “If meals have been overlooked at room temperature for greater than two hours, discard gadgets to forestall foodborne sickness,” the USDA states on their web site.

What Thanksgiving Leftovers Freeze Properly?

In the event you don’t suppose you’re going to eat leftover cranberry sauce or apple pie straight away (Who’re you? Please come ahead and clarify your self), it’s possible you’ll need to place them in freezer luggage or storage containers to retailer for months to come back. James’ recommendation is to be life like—and never simply freeze for freezing’s sake. This boils right down to holding contemporary what you may and freezing issues that take to chilly properly, like purées, soups, sauces, and something with a better liquid content material.

As for what to not freeze, this contains starches, like potatoes and cooked greens. When frozen, the water inside starch turns to crystal and breaks the cells, drastically altering its texture. “Even mashed potatoes will lose a lot water out of their construction. They’ll be very dry and unappealing,” James says. The one exception is dinner rolls, which may simply be frozen, so long as they’re saved in a freezer-safe plastic bag in a single layer.

You additionally shouldn’t freeze soups or purées made with cream, because the dairy will form of curdle, and gained’t mix right into a luscious liquid once more. Nevertheless, pure vegetable purées akin to butternut squash or carrot soup, plus shares and broths, that don’t include any cream might be frozen.

Are you able to Freeze Gravy?

It depends upon whether or not it comprises dairy or not. The issue with dairy-based gravies is that they don’t take properly to freezing. The dairy, when thawed, tends to separate (this isn’t the case with stock-based gravy; see right here). In case you have plenty of leftover dairy-based gravy and don’t need it to go to waste, your most suitable option for style and security is to 1) Hold it within the fridge. 2) Each 3 days, take it out and convey it again to a boil. 3) Let it cool correctly, over a bowl of ice. And 4) stick it again within the fridge. It’s going to final for per week (or extra!) this manner.

Bringing the gravy again to a boil kills off micro organism. Nevertheless, James stresses, the way you cool the gravy could be very, essential. You need it to chill rapidly—therefore, the ice tub. The longer the gravy spends out of the fridge, the larger the chance of micro organism progress.

Are you able to Refreeze Leftovers That You have Defrosted?

You may, but it surely’s not perfect. You’re simply growing the moisture loss in that freeze-thaw cycle.

As for security, “Micro organism isn’t actually a priority then should you’re thawing it correctly,” James says. Thawing meals correctly implies that previous to cooking you are not permitting it to go above 40°F, when micro organism begins to multiply—quick. To thaw meals safely, there are two choices (there’s additionally the microwave, nonetheless this actually warrants an entire different safety-related put up): within the fridge and in chilly water. To thaw within the fridge, be sure you plan forward as a result of it is going to take some time (in a single day, almost certainly, relying on what you are thawing). The faster choice is to submerge your meals (in its freezer bag, after all) in chilly faucet water and alter the water each half-hour.

What’s one of the simplest ways to forestall freezer burn?

First issues first, James says: You need to get it frozen as rapidly as doable. However on the identical time, you don’t need to put heat issues within the freezer. This will enhance the interior temperature of the freezer and truly begin to barely defrost what’s already in there. Secondly, you need to decrease the publicity to air. James suggests storing meals in freezer luggage.

Can You Retailer Any Scraps in Your Freezer for Subsequent Yr—like, say, leftover cranberries?

Once more, James says, this comes right down to the standard of your freezer. For many business freezers, the reply can be no. It simply doesn’t keep chilly sufficient to maintain meals for that lengthy (see the explanations above).

Additionally: “Properly, why? Why do you need to maintain it that lengthy?” James says. Good level. May we recommend these Cranberry Cookie Bars, then?

What is the Finest Strategy to Reheat Thanksgiving Leftovers?

We talked about this slightly bit within the context of gravy, however what’s one of the simplest ways to reheat issues like slices of pie, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and naturally, turkey? In keeping with the USDA, when reheating within the microwave, cowl and rotate the meals for even heating. Prepare any meals evenly in a lined microwave protected glass or ceramic dish and add some liquid if wanted (this can be a nice time to make use of up additional turkey inventory). Microwaves usually have chilly spots, so examine the interior temperature of the meals in a number of locations with a meals thermometer. It is going to clearly take longer to warmth up denser meals akin to turkey and stuffing, whereas dinner rolls, roasted greens, and gravy will warmth up rapidly.

What is the worst factor you are able to do with leftovers?

“Most likely the worst factor you are able to do is go to sleep on the sofa and depart issues sitting on the counter,” James says. Permitting meals to sit down out for 3 to 4 hours at room temperature is harmful territory when it comes to micro organism progress.

Conversely, the sooner you may get issues chilled, the safer your leftovers are. As an alternative of ready till after dinner to start out storing issues, James suggests to start out chilling as you go. So, once you carve the turkey, put half of it within the fridge to get it chilled as rapidly as doable. The identical goes for every part, actually: Put what you suppose persons are going to eat right into a bowl or onto a serving platter and funky the remaining.

In the event you don’t need to simply reheat a plate of Thanksgiving leftovers or make a sandwich (with Monica Geller’s signature “moist maker” gravy-soaked slice of bread, too, after all), listed here are another recipes that make use of roast turkey and facet dishes. There’s a genius twist on a turkey pot pie that makes use of precooked shredded turkey breast (although be at liberty to make use of each the sunshine and darkish meat), plus contemporary veggies like cremini mushrooms, leeks, carrots, and herbs. For dessert, skip a slice of pie and bake a chocolate cake utilizing mashed potatoes. Sure, you heard that proper. Mashed potatoes, folks! They make chocolate truffles miraculously moist and fudgy. You may thank recipe developer janeofmanytrade for that invention.

1. Turkey Pot Pie for One other Day

Leftover turkey is just about a given after Thanksgiving, however even essentially the most ardent turkey followers most likely do not need to eat it for days and days on finish after the vacation. A really tasty resolution: Whip up a couple of of those turkey pot pies, freeze them for as much as 2 months, and bake ’em within the oven once you want a comfortable, comforting dinner on the fly.

2. Pull-Aside Thanksgiving Leftover Stuffed Bread

This fluffy pull-apart bread welcomes all of your Thanksgiving leftovers, from cubed turkey to mashed potatoes to stuffing. Serve ’em heat with butter or—our favourite—with leftover cranberry sauce or gravy.

3. Micki’s Turkey, Cranberry & Cream Cheese Consolation Sandwich

It would not get extra traditional than a turkey leftovers sandwich, doused with cranberry sauce. This model does provide a contemporary few twists, nonetheless, with the addition of cream cheese (you might additionally use mashed potatoes), avocado, tomato, and vegetable sprouts.

4. Cranberry Cookie Bars

We will not consider a greater use for additional cranberry sauce—apart from, ahem, that turkey sandwich—than these crumble-topped cookie bars. Calling for simply six elements (all vacation baking staples, like cinnamon, butter, and flour), one other bonus of those cookies is that they arrive collectively in a snap.

5. Chocolate–Mashed Potato Cake with Ganache

The key to the moistest-ever cake? Mashed potatoes! Yep, that is proper—your leftover mash (ensure it would not have garlic or different sturdy herbs) is simply the factor your chocolate truffles have been lacking.


The article, initially revealed in 2021, was up to date in August 2023.

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What’s your favourite approach to repurpose Thanksgiving leftovers? Inform us within the feedback beneath!

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