Whether you're having a turkey feast for Thanksgiving or that weekend dinner, it's safe to say you're bound to have some leftover turkey. After all, turkey can weigh anywhere from eight to more than 20 pounds, making for a lot of additional meat, especially if you have a small family. Fortunately, you can save a lot of those leftovers to eat later.
Sure, you can freeze the bird, but you might want to consider home-canning those leftovers instead. With canning, you don't risk accidentally exposing your cooked meat to freezer burn, which can lower its overall quality. Freezer burn is caused by the loss of moisture in food. Likewise, when you're ready to eat, you don't have to wait for your turkey to thaw. All you have to do is pop the lid on that jar, and your meal is ready to heat. In particular, canned turkey is useful for quick and convenient meals when you're not looking to dirty your kitchen. Put a can of turkey meat on some bread and have a sandwich. Alternatively, you can serve the canned turkey in its broth with white rice for a warm but hearty meal. Just avoid making these pressure-canning blunders, and you'll be fine.
Tips For Canning Turkey
If you're planning on canning a turkey from the start, it's recommended not to cook it all the way through. However, that's probably of little help to those simply looking to get that extra mileage out of their leftovers. You see, canning turkey can zap the little moisture the lean bird already had and make it extra dry since it's essentially getting heated in a pressure canner. Therefore, you may want to consider only canning the turkey's dark meat; it's better to eat as much of those breasts and wings at dinner as you can.
Likewise, consider smothering the meat in a sauce or soup when canning. You need some sort of moisture in the jar to keep your turkey meat from being ruined. Whether you go with turkey stock, gravy, or some other bold choice is up to you, but adding this extra ingredient will go a long way to helping the overall quality of your meat. You could also try brining the meat before canning it to lock in any extra moisture. Whatever you do, don't overcook the bird to begin with, or it may end up a bit rubbery.
How Long Pressure Canned Turkey Lasts
While home canning your turkey leftovers will significantly extend your bird's life, it's important to note that nothing lasts forever (except for possibly Twinkies). So you're probably wondering how long your canned turkey is good for. Fortunately, it will last long enough to be served at your next Thanksgiving or Christmas if you so wish. According to the USDA, home-canned goods, if properly sealed, can last a long time.
In particular, low-acid foods, which include various meats and veggies, will last anywhere from two to five years and still be safe to eat. However, just because something won't make you sick doesn't mean you'll necessarily enjoy eating it. From a quality perspective, you may consider tossing your canned turkey leftovers after about a year. The quality of the meat may begin to degrade around that time. While technically, the meat will still be fit for consumption since it lacks any bacteria growth or other harmful microbes, the quality isn't there. However, you can stretch those leftovers for quite a while and enjoy turkey sandwiches long after Thanksgiving has come and gone.
Read the original article on Daily Meal.