Turkey is the highlight of every Thanksgiving dinner. Turkey also contains the amino acid Tryptophan which can cause sleepiness. So if you feel a bit drowsy after having a huge Thanksgiving dinner, that’s the meat doing its thing.
Having leftover turkey from holiday dinners seems to be a huge thing in most households, so how do you go about preserving it?
Can you freeze Turkey? Yes, you can. Turkey can be frozen and kept for three months in the freezer without a change in taste or damage to texture. Turkey handles well in the freezer as long as you keep the frozen turkey away from air, and keep the temperature regulated and constant.
It is hard to picture a holiday dinner without turkey. It is like a tradition. Hence, the United States is the largest producer of turkey meat in the world. Aside from huge feasts and holiday dinners, turkey meat can be used in sandwiches as a replacement for ground meat.
How to Freeze Turkey
Freezing leftovers might be a huge thing, but you can also decide to freeze turkey so you can eat it later. It can save you a lot of stress and gives you enough time to spend with your family and friends during these holiday feasts and dinners.
Being able to freeze turkey can help you do some preemptive planning like buying them when it’s on sale. So, you save money and time.
Freezing Turkey Whole
Can I freeze my turkey whole? Do I have to cut it before I freeze it? Your turkey will freeze better if you cut it into smaller pieces. But, you can freeze your turkey whole.
If you freeze your turkey whole, you shouldn’t keep it in the freezer for longer than two weeks. So how do you do it?
Follow your recipe and cook your turkey till it is done. Then, wait for a little while and let it cool down. But, wait no longer than two hours.
Wrap your big whole turkey in several layers of plastic wrap. Several layers, you have to ensure that no part of turkey is exposed. It is very important to keep your turkey away from the cold air in the freezer so that you can avoid freezer burn.
Use freezer tape to hold the plastic wrap together, then rewrap again with freezer paper. The waxy part of the paper should face the meat and the paper part should be on the outside. Then use freezer tape to seal it up.
Place the turkey into the freezer and leave it for no longer than two weeks. This way you can freeze your turkey whole. But if you would love to keep it for longer than that, you would have to cut it up.
Freezing Leftover Turkey
If you want to keep your turkey for a longer period, you can cut it up and use the same process here to freeze it. This doesn’t apply to just leftover turkey.
Step 1: Preparation
Before you do anything, you need to let your turkey cool down to room temperature. Freezing your turkey while it is still warm would cause condensation that can lead to freezer burn.
While waiting for your meat to cool, you shouldn’t leave it out for longer than 2 hours so that bacteria would not use your meat as a breeding ground.
Cut your meat into smaller servings or portions, as this would help it to freeze well. Bigger portions of turkey would take a longer time to freeze solid and might not fare as well as smaller pieces.
Step 2: Flash Freezing
Take your pieces of turkey after you have cooled them down and spread them out on a baking sheet lined with wax paper or parchment paper. Flash freezing would help keep your pieces of turkey from sticking together as they freeze.
Spread each piece individually on the tray with enough space between them, then place the tray into the freezer to freeze for one hour or more.
Step 3: Storage and Freezing
After flash freezing your turkey, separate them into serving portions and transfer them into Ziploc freezer bags. Press the bags flat to expel excess air from the bags, or use a vacuum sealer if you have one.
Before you place the bags into the freezer, Label them with a sharpie, stating the contents and the date of the freeze. This would help you to keep track of the meat in case you lose sight of it in the freezer.
How to Thaw Frozen Turkey
Thawing Frozen turkey is easy, but you might need to do some premeditation. Take the pack of frozen turkey from the freezer and transfer it to the refrigerator. Leave it there till it thaws completely. This might take a long while. About 2 to 3 days in the refrigerator, before it thaws completely.
Another way to thaw frozen turkey fast is to thaw it in a bowl of water on the counter. Replace the bowl of water at least every hour till the turkey is completely thawed. Don’t leave your frozen turkey out to thaw on the counter as it could cause bacteria in it to grow at a fast rate.
How to Recognize Spoiled Turkey
If your turkey was about to go bad before you froze it, freezing it wouldn’t save it. Thawed turkey goes bad fast if you don’t eat it. But, how do you know if your turkey has gone bad? Turkey that has gone bad in the freezer would have ice crystals on it. The color would look pale and the meat would feel dry to the touch. Turkey that has gone bad will have an odd smell and appearance. It might also feel slimy to the touch. If you notice this in your turkey, then you should discard it.