Can you freeze cooked turkey?

Jamie Oliver details recipe for 'quick and easy' Christmas turkey

Have you bought a turkey big enough to feed the masses only to have your Christmas plans snatched away from you at the last minute? New restrictions on life across England and the rest of the UK have drastically altered Christmas for almost everyone.

Many have been wondering what to do with copious amounts of leftover food now that Christmas plans have been cancelled or significantly reduced across the country thanks to heavy new restrictions in place due to Covid-19.

Christmas plans have been scuppered as travel bans have been put in place and the Christmas bubble period thwarted to one day only.

London and surrounding areas are now living under Tier 4 restrictions – the harshest in England.

Luckily there are a few options for using up leftover food instead of wasting it this Christmas period.

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Can you freeze cooked turkey?

Freezing cooked meat is safe – so it’s safe to put your leftover turkey in the freezer for another time.

According to the NHS website: “You can freeze meat for a long time and it will still be safe to eat, but the quality will deteriorate so it’s best to eat it within three to six months.

“Place food in an airtight container or wrap it tightly in freezer bags or similar before placing in the freezer otherwise the cold air will dry it out.”

The NHS also advises that you can cook raw meat that was originally frozen and can then refreeze it.

The NHS has several tips for using up leftovers:

  •  cool leftovers as quickly as possible, ideally within two hours
  •  divide leftovers into individual portions and refrigerate or freeze
  •  use refrigerated leftovers within 2 days
  •  when reheating food, make sure it is heated until it reaches a temperature of 70C for 2 minutes, so that it is steaming hot throughout
  •  always defrost leftovers completely, either in the fridge or in the microwave

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  • when defrosted, food should be reheated only once, because the more times you cool and reheat food, the higher the risk of food poisoning
  • cooked food that has been frozen and removed from the freezer should be reheated and eaten within 24 hours of fully defrosting
  • foods stored in the freezer, such as ice cream and frozen desserts, should not be returned to the freezer once they have thawed
  • for safety and to reduce waste, only take out of the freezer what you intend to use within the next 24 hours

The advice also applies to other cooked meats – so if you’re switching it up this Christmas, you can still save those leftovers.

Many have also suggested gifting leftover and unused food to charities, food banks, and putting it on apps designed to reduce food waste.

Apps like Olio have been redistributing food from households that no longer need it to those that want it to help prevent food waste.

Food banks have reported their busiest periods ever throughout the coronavirus crisis, with swathes of job losses across the UK and dependency on Government aid at a high.

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