Christmas is all about the best things in life – family, giving and good food. But you have to be careful when preparing and storing food to ensure food safety, and know how to use up your leftovers to avoid food waste. Here are some general guidelines for refrigerator and freezing times to make the most of your Christmas leftovers.
There are so many differing opinions on how long a Christmas ham will last in the fridge, but the general consensus is a couple of weeks provided you keep it in a soaked ham bag. You can buy a ham bag from the supermarket, cheapie shop or Spotlight, but a pillowcase or calico bag will do the same thing. The ham bag will usually come with instructions, otherwise make a weak vinegar solution (4 cups water and 2 tablespoons white vinegar), soak the bag in the solution then rinse it out. Place the ham inside the bag and keep at the back of the fridge. Rinse the bag out in the vinegar solution every 2-3 days or when the bag dries out.
I usually keep out enough ham to last a few days, then wrap the remaining slices of Christmas ham in smaller portions and freeze. It will easily last 1-2 months, I personally have kept it for much longer and it was fine. Use on top of pizzas, in omelettes, pasta and in wraps.
Cooked Turkey, Chicken and Pork
Should last 3-4 days in the fridge. To freeze, place portions in a freezer bag or ziplock bag, expel as much air as possible and seal. Should last 2-6 months.
The storage and freezing times of different types of seafood vary. The Sydney Fish Market has a detailed list of storage times and freezing tips for fish, squid, cuttlefish, octopus, prawns, crabs and mussels. Please click here for detailed information.
Ham, egg and pasta salads should be eaten within 3-4 days. Garden salads tend to go soggy pretty quickly, so I like to disassemble the salad and keep all the different ingredients separate. It should last a day or two. Salads that have had a salad dressing poured over will go soggy overnight so they’re best to discard. Don’t forget, if you have chickens then you can feed them the soggy salad and stale bread. They’ll love it.
Tips to use up leftovers
Be realistic about the amount of food your family can eat within the first few days after Christmas. Prioritise the foods that can’t be frozen or have a shorter storage life, and eat those first. Freeze everything you can. Hopefully you’ll only have to be creative with a smaller portion of leftovers. Here are a few ideas you might like to try:
- Chop up your leftover salad ingredients and toss through some couscous for a delicious and healthy salad, finish with a squeeze of lemon.
- Christmas burger. Add thick slices of ham and/or turkey (or leftover roast meat), fill with leftover salad and smother in your choice of sauce.
- Make Christmas patties using leftover diced meat and vegetables.
- Creamy seafood pasta using up all your leftover seafood.
- Make mini quiches using any leftover meat and vegetables. You can use puff pastry, filo pastry, shortcrust or even squashed bread for the casing. The quiches can then be frozen for up to a month.
leftover green salad revamped into a couscous salad
Check out the following posts for more ideas:
Although Bel and I try to be thrifty in the kitchen and like to avoid waste wherever possible, we would urge you to use common sense and if you’re unsure about the safety of your leftovers, then it’s best to discard them. Please remember to be mindful where you’re throwing out your food to throw it in the compost, green waste or general waste bins.
The Food Safety Information Council has some handy tips for food safety in the holidays: http://foodsafety.asn.au/entertaining/.
Food storage and freezing times obtained from:
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