Handling Thanksgiving Leftovers

Thanksgiving leftovers

Safely Handle Thanksgiving Leftovers

After the big feast is over, you may be left with more food than you know what to do with.

Rather than wearing out your taste buds with the same old leftovers each night following Thanksgiving, try switching it up. Revitalize your leftover turkey by converting it into a soup, stew, sandwich, or pasta dish.

How long will it keep?

Cooked poultry is safe in the fridge for only three to four days. If you can’t finish off your leftover turkey within that time frame, consider freezing it. Cooked poultry can be stored in the freezer for up to six months.

Further optimize what you freeze by dividing a large amount into smaller portions. This can help save space by allowing freezer items to be packed closer together.

If you choose to freeze, remember to properly thaw the leftovers upon retrieval. Do not thaw any food items at room temperature. The preferred thawing method, albeit the slowest, is in the refrigerator. Some smaller food items are able to defrost overnight but most will require a day or two.

You can also use the cold water thawing method which is faster than the fridge but requires more of your attention. Place food in a leak-proof plastic bag then immerse it in cold water. Ensure the bag won’t leak as that would enable bacterial contamination. Change the cold water every thirty minutes. Once thawed, you can refrigerate or cook the food immediately.

Frozen meat, poultry, and casseroles can be cooked without thawing, but it will take about one and a half times as long to cook them.

Other Thanksgiving Leftovers Questions?

Contact the Oldham County Cooperative Extension Service at 222-9453 for more information on home freezing. Call the Butterball Turkey Hotline at 1-800-288-8372 for expert turkey advice.

Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of race, color, age, sex, religion, disability, or national origin.

Written by Lauren State, Oldham County Extension Staff Assistant. Reviewed by Chris Duncan, Oldham County Family & Consumer Science Agent.

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