COLUMBUS — Thanksgiving is a time that revolves around food, family and friends – with the turkey serving as the show-stopper. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, more than 90 percent of Americans will gobble up turkey this holiday season. That adds up to more than 600 million pounds of turkey.
“A turkey at Thanksgiving is the epitome of the holiday,” said Jim Chakeres, executive vice president of the Ohio Poultry Association (OPA). “However, for many Ohioans, the best part of the dinner happens the day after when the leftovers begin.”
Here are a few recommendations from the Ohio turkey experts on how to store and prepare leftover turkey to its fullest potential:
- Storage: Make sure to remove the stuffing and carve any extra turkey meat from the bones. Leftovers should be stored in shallow containers to reduce air and oxygen exposure. To prevent any possible foodborne illnesses, all leftovers should be refrigerated or frozen within two hours of cooking.
- Shelf life: Leftover turkey and stuffing should be consumed within three to four days. While gravy lasts for only one to two days in the refrigerator. Cooked turkey can be kept in the freezer for three to four months.
- Try new recipes: Holiday dinners will likely leave hosts with mounds of leftover turkey. This lean meat is low in fat and an excellent source of protein, so don’t let it go to waste. Try making Turkey Sweet Potato Hash with Baked Eggs or Turkey Vegetable Hash Brown Quiche to create great meals using the turkey leftovers. For additional recipe ideas and cooking videos, visit www.OhioEggs.com.
“With current health discussions, many families seek nutritious, tasty options to fill our stomachs,” said Chakeres. “Turkey is a naturally lean source of protein and B vitamins that can complement other meal options after the holiday passes, while pleasuring your tastebuds.”
Ohio ranks ninth in the nation in turkey production with more than 209 million pounds of turkey produced. The value of turkey produced in Ohio in 2015 was more than $169 million.
For more information on storage, turkey recipes or nutritional benefits, visit the OPA website at www.ohioturkey.com or www.serveturkey.org.