Introduction: Super Easy Trick for Saving Leftover Turkey

About: Summer 2012, I moved out of NYC with one goal: find a way to get paid to hike. Since then I’ve been developing my nature inspired ink work, working on my master naturalist certification, and huffing it up and…

Okay, so the holidays are over and you find yourself confronted with the classic dilemma of glorious holiday excess: too much turkey. And maybe there's some ham, maybe you made a few more brussels than last year, and maybe Great Aunt Thelma's just not hitting the potatoes since she got on that new diet. Either way, you have a problem.

Sure you could spin off your turkey left overs into an ever shifting array of sandwiches, soups, and casseroles. For many people this is a cherished part of the holidays. For me, it guarantees I wont crave turkey again til Easter roles around.

Your holiday meal was a work of art, a perfectly balanced mix of meat, vegetables, and starches. Why do it a disservice by turning it into something else? If only there was some way to freeze a balanced meal exactly as it was without that pesky freezerburn....

Step 1: Step 1: Gravy, Your Magic Turkey Preservative

Whether it's white or brown, thick or thin, vegan or distilled from an extract of pure Animalia, there is one thing all gravy has in common:

It is awesome

Not only is gravy awesome tasting, but it has an awesome ability to prevent freezer burn in frozen foods. Freezer burn is a common name for the process of sublimation, in which a solid transitions directly into a gas without making a social appearance in liquid form in between. In the case of your turkey dinner, this means the water is drawing straight out of the exposed surfaces of your food to be vented off or recrystallized elsewhere, leaving your food vulnerable to oxidation. This will cause profound denaturation of every delicious protein that gives your late, beloved gobbler its texture and flavor properties. It's also no picnic for potatoes, stuffing, and green bean casserole.

To remedy, prepare your three course meal exactly as desired in a single freezer bag and pour in your desired accompaniment of gravy. By coating your entire meal before freezing, you have created a moisture barrier to halt or delay the sublimation of water from your food. It's okay, the gravy forgives you.

Step 2: Step 2: a Consideration

You might be noticing only the bottom part of your bag is gravied. This presents a problem, any exposed food will freezer burn. You could just pour in the rest of your gravy and brew some more up on the stove.

But.... we are steeped thickly in the modern age of lifestyle illnesses. A liter of gravy might not be the best choice for everyone. So how do you ensure a thin, even glass of gravy freezes over your entire sack of delicious?

Step 3: Step 3: Suction Is Key

Suction! Air is the enemy, air is what will carry away our precious moisture and ruin that delicious turkey meal. Simply cinch all but one corner of the freezer bag, suck the air out, label, date, and pop it in the freezer. If you don't expect to share your precious cache of bird meat, just do it by mouth.

The cold, dry conditions all but ensure anything harmful you carry will be dead before it can spread. Furthermore, as you are popping it right in the freezer and cooking on removal, the risk of bacterial toxins and endospores is all but negligible. It wont be restaurant grade, I wouldn't do it in a lab, and it will not escape the taint of cooties, but really it will be as safe as anything else you eat. Stop sucking in air as soon as the gravy starts to rise up the bag and above the food.

Now you can have a delicious turkey dinner well after your New Year's resolutions fall by the wayside, enjoy!

Step 4: Afterthoughts

This has been a tradition in my family for a few years now when I come back and visit for the holidays. I love it as I get a great family dinner full of warmth and love any time I like and hours away. While at first we tried freezing the dinners and packing them tight for the long drive home, the food was frequently partly defrosted by the time I got home. As a food safety buff, it was less than ideal, beyond the flavor effects of refreezing.

A super cheap and easy solution is to make an insulating sack out of recycle bin newspapers and an old shopping bag or two. Pack in the meals, put about a pound of dry ice on top, and seal it tight. On a 7 hour drive, one block of dry ice can freeze 5 cold meals solid with some snow left to spare. Your mileage may vary so be careful! Dry ice can be dangerous when mishandled, and food safety is a matter too broad to be covered here and in no means to be taken lightly.

Happy holidays from Punk Love Designs!