Category: Poultry

Poultry

Can You Freeze Turkey?

Traditionally, roast turkey is served during Thanksgiving and most households tend to have a lot of leftovers once the festivities are over. The good news is, you can freeze turkey, along with its sauces, and use whatever’s left of the bird for new dishes, including stews, casseroles, and sandwich fillings. It doesn’t really take much to freeze turkey properly especially if it’s uncooked.

Image used under Creative Commons from Andrea Goh

However, the cooked turkey must be stored with care and should be separated from its sauces to stay fresh longer. When frozen, roasted turkey can keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Uncooked frozen turkey will stay fresh longer, about 6 to 12 months.

How to Freeze Turkey?

The proper way to freeze cooked turkey is to separate the meat from the bones before freezing.

Freezing Cooked Turkey

Freezing cooked turkey is a little more complicated than that. Start by picking the pieces of meat with a carving knife, making sure to separate those with a smattering of sauces from sauce-free meat.

Work on the sauce-free meat first, carefully removing the bones and then placing the shredded meat in a bowl and set aside. Then, work on the meats with sauces, removing the meat that has been in contact with the sauce. Put the sauce-free meats in the bowl of shredded meat. On the other hand, the shredded meat with sauces must be kept in a separate bowl

Once the meat has been shredded, get several freezer-safe Ziploc bags and store the meat inside, squeezing as much air as you could in the process. Use a different bag for sauce-free shredded meat and meat that’s been exposed to the sauce. After filling the bags, get a marker, label the bags with the freezing date, and then stick them in the freezer, ensuring that the temperature is a constant 0°F.

Freezing Uncooked Turkey

Uncooked turkey is usually sold already frozen in a freezer-safe packaging. If are not ready to cook the turkey just yet, just stick the product in the freezer, original packaging and all. There is no need to repack the bird for freezing.

How to Defrost Frozen Turkey?

There are several ways to thaw frozen turkey properly and we will outline these methods below:

Slow Defrosting

If it’s uncooked, you can defrost the turkey by transferring it from the freezer to the fridge and leaving it to thaw for 24 hours. Make sure the fridge’s temperature is set at 40 °F or below for faster and even thawing.

As for cooked turkey, you can thaw a bag by letting it thaw in the fridge overnight or sticking it in the fridge to defrost.

Cold Water Thawing

Another method of thawing a uncooked turkey is cold water thawing. Essentially, you will submerge the frozen turkey – packaging and all – in a basin of cold water. Make sure the packaging is leak-proof before submerging the turkey.

Image used under Creative Commons from Kristie Moser

Microwave Defrosting

If you’re in a rush, you can also remove the frozen turkey meat from the Ziploc bag, transfer it to a covered ceramic bowl and then stick it in the microwave. Set the microwave on high and microwave for about 3 to 5 minutes.

Summary

Having frozen turkey in stock – regardless if it’s cooked or uncooked – gives you plenty of opportunities to whip up special dishes that the whole family will enjoy. Now that you know how to freeze turkey, you can store the bird properly for future uses.

Poultry

Can You Freeze Cooked Chicken?

Made too much cooked chicken? That’s not a problem if you have some space in the freezer. While cooked chicken will last for up to a week in the fridge, freezing is the better option if you want to preserve the bird for a longer period. Since the chicken is already cooked, you can prepare it for freezing in no time. So the answer to the question “can you freeze cooked chicken?” is “definitely!”. In this article we will go through prepping cooked chicken for freezing, defrosting it. We will also outline ways of using defrosted chicken leftovers.

Meal prep containers with cooked shredded chicken

How to Freeze Cooked Chicken

The whole process of freezing cooked chicken is very simple. It consists of five steps: prepping, cooling down, portioning, packaging, and throwing into the freezer. Here is a step-by-step guide to freezing cooked chicken:

  1. Prepping. Boneless chicken freezes best and is the most versatile to prepare after defrosting. Because of that, start off by removing any bones. Leave the skin on or remove it depending on your preference. Shredding the chicken meat is also a good idea because it will allow you to easily portion the chicken. Plus shredded chicken thaws much faster.
    Slow cooking chicken with hawaiian bbq sauce

    Cooking chicken in a slow cooker is a great option for meal prep

    Shredding cooked chicken breast with fork

    Shred the chicken after cooking

  2. Cooling down. The faster you can cool down the chicken, the better. While some guides recommend throwing the cooked chicken right into the fridge for cooling, I wouldn’t do that. That would significantly increase the temperature in the fridge and likely affect other food stored in the freezer. Instead, start off by spreading the chicken in an even layer and leave the chicken at room temperature for at least 30 minutes. This speeds up the cooling process significantly. Plus, as long as you put the chicken into the fridge within 2 hours of cooking, you should be fine. Once the initial cooling down is done, transfer the cooked chicken into the fridge for at least an hour to lower its temperature further. I usually leave it in the fridge overnight.
    Cooling down shredded chicken
  3. Portioning. When portioning, consider how you will be using the chicken in the future. Meal-size portions are best, but it’s not always easy to figure out how much is a meal-size portion. Many small portions is usually a better option than few big ones. This way, you can easily defrost one more portion if needed.
    Shredded chicken cooling down
  4. Packaging. If you’re freezing only the chicken, use freezer bags. Freezer bags take less freezer space. Make sure to label each bag with a name and a date. If you’re freezing chicken as a part of a meal, use food containers. Food containers allow you to layer and separate the food better. Here’s how shredded Hawaiian BBQ chicken with rice (under the chicken) and roasted veggies looks like in a food container:
    Hawaiian bbq chicken with vegetables
  5. Throw the packaged chicken into the freezer.

While frozen cooked chicken will last indefinitely, its quality slowly drops over time. Because of that, it’s recommended to consume the chicken within 3 months.

How to Defrost Frozen Cooked Chicken

There are a few ways of defrosting the cooked chicken, depending on your needs and time constraints:

  • Overnight in the fridge. This is the recommended method. Just transfer the chicken from the freezer to the refrigerator and leave it to thaw overnight. In the morning it’s ready to go.
  • Room temperature. Many sources say you should avoid defrosting chicken at room temperature. The possibility of bacterial growth is high when the chicken is left sitting at room temperature for too long. If you need to thaw the chicken within a few hours and don’t want to bother with other methods, room temperature is an option. Use it at your own risk though. I often forget to defrost the chicken overnight and just leave it on the counter for 2 hours before cooking and never had any issues with it. But maybe I’m just lucky.
  • Ice bath. An ice bath is a good option if you want to defrost the chicken rapidly. Just put the chicken in a container filled with cold water and leave the chicken submerged for half an hour. Make sure the package is sealed before submerging the chicken into water or keep the seal above water. Obviously, this method works much better for chicken stored in freezer bags than in containers.
  • Microwave. If you’re in a real hurry, using the microwave to defrost the cooked chicken is always an option.
  • Throw it in frozen. If you’re making a soup or a stew, you can just add the frozen chicken as the dish cooks. Make sure to cook the meal for longer to account for chicken defrosting. And remember to give it a stir every now and then so the clumped chicken pieces separate. If the chicken will be used as a part of a stir-fry, throwing it in frozen is an option too. Make sure you start off on fairly low heat to give the chicken some time to defrost.

How to Use Defrosted Cooked Chicken

Defrosted chicken can be used in pretty much in every meal you would use the cooked chicken in. The taste of a defrosted cooked chicken might not be as good as the taste of freshly cooked chicken. You might need to experiment a bit to find meals that work best for you. Here are some ideas that you can try for your chicken leftovers:

  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Pasta sauce/Sauce for rice
  • Stir-fry
  • As is, reheated on a pan
  • Meal prep (preparing and freezing the whole meal, not just the chicken)
Poultry

Can You Freeze Eggs?

Can you freeze eggs? Eggs are a component of many foods, they are often incorporated in diets. In brief, eggs are a very common food. So, what should you do if you’ve bought some eggs a while ago and you are unsure whether you’ll be able to use them within a few weeks? Or can you buy a few packages more than usually if you’ve found a great deal on eggs? Freezing eggs is the solution to both mentioned issues. You can freeze eggs but there are a few things about it that you need to know to perform this process properly.

Freezing raw whole eggs

In order to freeze whole eggs you need to remove them from the shells in the first place. Raw eggs expand while freezing so they’d break the shell and make a mess in your freezer. You don’t want that. After you’ve done that, you need to mix them until they are well blended. Now they’re ready to be put in the freezer.

Frozen egg
Image used under Creative Commons from Nicola Osborne

Freezing raw egg whites

Raw egg whites don’t suffer from freezing. Firstly you need to separate egg yolks from whites, that’s pretty obvious. Make sure that whites are separated well from yolks. After that they are pretty much ready for freezing.

Freezing raw egg yolks

Egg yolks have gelation property. That causes the yolk to thicken when frozen. If you freeze egg yolks without any ingredients, they become gelatinous. They might become so gelatinous that you won’t be able to use them in any recipe. Obviously that’s not what we desire. Fortunately, we can prevent yolks from becoming gelatinous when frozen. If you plan to use them in main dishes, add ½ teaspoon of salt per 1 cup of egg yolks. If you, on the other hand, plan to use yolks for baking purposes, add 6 teaspoons of sugar or corn syrup per one cup of egg yolks[1]. Now the yolks are ready to be frozen.

Tips concerning freezing eggs

When it comes to freezing eggs (whole eggs, whites and yolks) there are a few things that you should consider. The first thing is – freeze eggs in small quantities. This way you can thaw only as many eggs as you need at the moment. The easiest way to achieve that is to put them in ice-cube trays and then in a container. Frozen eggs should be fine for a year at least. Labeling the container with the date and the description of its contents is also worth considering. This way you can easily find what you need. If you freeze egg yolks, remember to write on the label what ingredient you have added (salt, sugar or corn syrup) to the yolks. Make sure that the container will be airtight.

When it comes to thawing eggs, you can do that overnight in the refrigerator or under cold tap water. Please remember to use whole eggs and egg yolks as soon as they are thawed. Egg whites can sit in room temperature freely for about half an hour before being used. One more thing that’s very important – thawed frozen eggs should be used only in foods that are thoroughly cooked[1].

Summary
Eggs are a very common food. You can freeze raw eggs freely but you need to remember that you should do that only if you plan to use them in a thoroughly cooked dish.