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Christmas Food Tips

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“Let the FSA Freezer Fairy help reduce the stress of cooking for Christmas”
 

Getting ready for Christmas tips

  • Before you plan your Christmas meals, think about how many people you’ll be cooking for and how big the portion sizes should be. The portion planner at the following link covers all sorts of foods and tells you how much you need to cook, so that you can avoid the temptation of buying too much http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/portions/everyday
  • When you do your shopping remember to take two or more bags with you so that you can separate out raw and ready-to-eat foods and help to reduce waste from cross-contaminated foods.
  • A good tip for carrying all of your raw meat safely might be to use a ‘bag for life’. You may need to have an extra-large one if your turkey is big! Here’s some advice on packing food safely when shopping https://www.food.gov.uk/news-updates/news/2015/14490/fsa-tips-on-packing-food-safely-when-shopping
  • If you want to plan ahead, you can get your Christmas cooking done weeks in advance by storing cooked foods in the freezer. It’s best to place food in an air tight container or wrap it well in freezer bags, freezer wrap or cling film before freezing it, to stop the cold air from drying it out. Expel as much air from the freezer bags as possible.
  • It’s a good idea to date and label any foods that goes into the freezer so you know what it is and how long it has been in there.
  • The freezer is like a pause button, so you can freeze pre-packaged Christmas goodies safely right up to the ‘use by’ date.

Turkey tips

  • Have you thought about cooking your turkey in advance? This could save you getting stressed on the day and give you more precious time with your family. It also helps save valuable fridge space for other foods. Once your turkey is cooked and cooled you can slice then batch it into portions and store it in the freezer. Freezing it in portions will enable you to take out what you need when you need it, and you can save the remaining turkey in the freezer for a later date, perhaps for a New Year’s Eve buffet! Just remember that meat previously cooked and frozen should only be reheated once.
  • If your turkey is frozen and you prefer to roast it on Christmas day, make sure you check the guidance well in advance to defrost it according to its size – a typical large turkey weighing 6-7kg could take three days to fully thaw in the fridge.
  • Always defrost your frozen turkey fully before cooking – partially defrosted turkey may not cook evenly – which means that harmful bacteria could survive the cooking process. To avoid cross-contamination always put the turkey into a container large enough to catch the defrosted drips.
  • Get the most out of you turkey by using any juices to make a stock and leftovers to make a soup http://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/node/1309
  • You can even freeze turkey, other meat and meals cooked from previously cooked and frozen meat. But once defrosted, the pause button is off and you should eat the food within 24 hours. So you can turn your leftover Christmas dinner into a tasty meal for another day.
     

Other Festive food tips

  • Did you know that you can prepare a lot of the meal in advance to save time and reduce stress on the day!
  • You can prepare all of your veg in advance; if you don't want to spend Christmas morning peeling potatoes, you can parboil them for five minutes, then drain and cool them before freezing. You can do the same with wedges of carrot and parsnip, or even Brussels sprouts, which will need slightly less cooking time than usual.  
  • Cranberry sauce, bread sauce and chestnut stuffing can also be frozen in advance – you’ll just need to add a splash of cream or milk to the bread sauce after reheating it.

Entertaining food tips

  • If you have house guests over the festive period, think about preparing a bolognaise, stew or casserole and freezing it in advance, so there is less cooking to do when your guests are there and more time to entertain them.
  • If you like baking why not make some quiches or sausage rolls, once cooled you can cut them into portions then freeze for handy snacks.
  • Why not keep an extra loaf of bread and pint of milk in the freezer so that there is always something for breakfast and so that you don’t run out over the festive period when the shops are shut!
  • Ensure you always have an ice cold ‘slice’ when serving drinks by slicing up leftover lemons and limes, layering them between non-stick paper and freezing them in a freezer bag.

Leftovers and reducing food waste tips

  • You can make festive food go further by freezing leftovers. Just make sure any warm dishes are cool before putting them in your freezer. It’s best to place leftover food in an air tight container or wrap it well in freezer bags, freezer wrap or cling film before freezing it, to stop the cold air from drying it out. Expel as much air as possible from freezer bags.
  • Remember when you’re freezing food to divide into portion sizes so you’ll only defrost what you need and to write the date so you know when you put it in the freezer. This will help you to reduce waste.
  • To help make food go further you can make your leftovers into new meals then freeze them https://www.lovefoodhatewaste.com/recipes?page=8
  • You can even freeze turkey, other meat and meals cooked using previously frozen raw meat. Just make sure you only reheat cooked meat once. But once defrosted, the pause button is off and you should eat the food within 24 hours. So you can turn your leftover Christmas dinner into a tasty meal for another day.
  • If you have leftover wine you can pour it into an ice cube tray and freeze it for use at a later date in sauces, gravy or (if it’s white) even as an alcoholic ice cube to chill your wine.
  • Don’t waste any fresh herbs that are leftover, you can puree and freeze them in an ice cube tray to add to dishes as and when you need them.

Click here for further advice on food safety at Christmas and more festive recipes


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If you would like further information, please contact us at Ballycastle Office, Sheskburn House, 7 Mary Street, Ballycastle, BT54 6QH.