Chuck It or Chow Down? Your Guide to Holiday Leftovers!
I see you. I see you standing in front of the open fridge, staring at the picked-apart turkey carcass and the stuffing and the cranberry sauce and the mashed potatoes. And I also see you doing that mental math.
How many days has it been?
Is it safe?
Then there’s the sniff test, which, frankly is useless unless it’s REALLY unsafe to eat.
So what’s the deal? Do you chow down or do you chuck those holiday leftovers?
Well, thanks to the Food Network (and probably several emergency room doctors) there’s a definitive guide to what’s safe and what’s not to ingest.
And when you ABSOLUTELY have to throw it all out.
(PS Bob pitched ALL THE LEFTOVERS Sunday night, which, frankly, I think was a little premature. But what do I know? I never cook Thanksgiving dinner!)
According to the Food Network, here’s how to handle the leftovers:
Your Guide to Holiday Leftovers: DAY 1
After you hork down enough calories to choke a rhino, the he first step is to pack up the meal.
“Take the time to pack leftovers into small containers and resealable plastic bags; store in increments suitable for your kitchen needs — the smaller, the better for easier storage and convenience for use straight from the freezer,” the Food Network recommended.
Use freezer- or storage-specific plastic bags and wrap, which are thicker and better suited to staving off freezer burn.
Fun tip: Force out as much air as possible because that helps prevent freezer burn.
Trash greens. You don’t make friends with salad. Especially the wilted stuff.
Also: remove any stuffing from the turkey cavity and store separately.
Freeze dinner rolls, or prep into cubes or crumbs.
“Wrap rolls in foil first, then plastic wrap, so the rolls can go straight into a preheated oven once the plastic wrap’s removed,” the Food Network advised.
“Bread has a short shelf life (no more than a month) before it takes on the unpleasant taste of freezer burn.”
Other thing to freeze: turkey, casseroles or cooked grains. They last for for up to 3 months.
“Freeze casseroles by dividing into individual or family-size portions and wrapping them first in foil and then in plastic wrap; store in freezer-proof resealable plastic bags with the air pressed out to delay the onset of freezer burn.”
I’ve never, ever done this. I’ve been doing it wrong all these years.
Cooked vegetables — think roasted, steamed or fried — should be used or consumed. Any food prepared in a sealed crust — such as dumplings, ravioli or croquettes — may also be frozen on a baking sheet and transferred to a freezer bag to store for up to 1 month.
Use the mashed potatoes and leftover stuffing. Or freeze them. They’ll keep for up to 2 months.
Gravy should be used or frozen. Freeze the gravy in small containers and store for up to 2 months.
Baked casseroles, such as gratins or lasagna, will need to be consumed if not already frozen in individual portions.
Also, eat all the pies.
Turkey should be used or consumed by this point.
WHAT? I can’t believe I’m alive.
DAY 6 – 14
“Cranberry sauce should be used or frozen by this point; the addition of alcohol in some cranberry sauces may help it keep for upwards of a month. Freeze cranberry sauce in 1/2 cup increments for up to 2 months — snack-size bags work well and will lie flat for easier storage,” according to the Food Network.
One Month and More
It’s over. Move on. You’re just tempting the gastrointestinal gods at this point.
Anyway, it’s almost Christmas, so you can do it all again?