Mary Ann Lienhart-Cross: How to get rid of your extra holiday food
Posted: 12/31/2012 at 1:15 am
Food & Nutrition
We all have been enjoying the holidays with family, friends and, of course, the food. I donít think we could have the holidays without the food.
There are many delicious foods that you often prepare only once a year, and there are often memories that go with the food. These foods may be meats of different kinds, candies, cheese balls, baked goodies, beverages or other items that family members prepare or purchase. Many of you get to the point where you have had enough of all this tasty food and there is still food left. So now you have the challenge of being creative and preparing tasty food with your holiday foods.
A couple of ideas come to mind. First, how about another gathering of family and friends, which always means food and you can use the food for this. I suggest you also ask those that are coming to bring their extra holiday foods. This way there will be a variety of food at the gathering and there is the chance that most of the food would be enjoyed. If there is still food left, you could have everyone take some food home or make up plates for others.
Everyone needs to be responsible and keep food safe whether you are going to eat the food now or later. If you are going to share it with others, you might want to repackage it and label it. If you want to keep the food for later, you may need to freeze it. Freezing works for most foods and, if done properly, will remain tasty. When freezing, foods should be frozen quickly to 0 degrees or lower. Try placing new packages against freezer walls or shelves to help speed up the process.
When adding packages to the freezer try to add only what can be frozen in 24 hours. A rule you might want to try is about 3 pounds per cubic foot of interior freezer space. (I hope you donít have that much food left.) Many foods will keep best if you double wrap them or, for sure, use a freezer bag. You want to seal all the items in moisture- and vapor-proof freezer wrappings. Exposure to air can give food an off color and flavor and a tough, dry surface known as freezer burn. When it comes to taping the paper or plastic, use freezer tape or masking tape. Also make sure to drug store or freeze fold if you are working with freezer paper.
When freezing liquids donít fill the containers to the top, leave at least one-half inch to allow for expansion. If you have leftover broth, stock or gravy, try freezing in ice cube trays. Once frozen then remove from the trays and place in freezer bags for easy use later.
Plan to freeze foods when they are at their best quality. If foods are off color, have an odor, or have lost their eye appeal, donít freeze them. Keep in mind freezing keeps food, but it doesnít improve the quality. So with the food you have frozen you have the start of your ďSuper BowlĒ party. Keep in mind that soups and chili are some great foods to create with your frozen leftovers. When you are planning winter parties use small appliances, especially crock pots as they are great to use for making and serving chilies, soups and other foods!! ###
Extension Educator Health and Human Sciences Purdue Extension Elkhart County 574-533-0554, firstname.lastname@example.org