Nutrition Corner: Properly handle your turkey for delicious leftovers

November 21st, 2017 11:22 am

Thanksgiving has passed, but there still might be some turkey left in your fridge. You may be asking the question, is it still safe to eat?

The answer might depend on how you handled the turkey on Thanksgiving.

First, if handled properly, turkey, when properly refrigerated, is safe to eat for three days, however, stuffing and gravy for only two days. Here’s the catch — “if handled properly.”

Bacteria that cause food poisoning can multiply to dangerous levels on food left at room temperature for longer than two hours. You need to ask the question,:was the turkey left unrefrigerated for longer than two hours? Were the stuffing and gravy left unrefrigerated for longer than two hours? If so, then they all need to be discarded.

Handled properly means perishable food like turkey, stuffing and gravy are refrigerated within two hours. Temperatures between 140 and 40 degrees is where bacteria grows the fastest. These are room temperatures.

A special note, when serving leftover gravy, first reheat to a rolling boil or 165°F before serving. Having a food thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking.

For longer storage, package turkey in freezer bag or heavy-duty aluminum foil and freeze. Do not forget to date your packages and use the oldest ones first.

Frozen, cooked turkey should be used within 4-6 months, and stuffing and gravy should be used within one month. Foods frozen longer than recommended remain safe but may become dry and loose flavor.

Here is a recipe, which uses leftover turkey. It is easy to make and is a nice change from a turkey sandwich!

Impossible Turkey Pie

2 cups cooked turkey or chicken, diced

¼ cup sliced mushrooms

1/2 cup sliced green onions

1 cup shredded natural Swiss cheese

1 1/2 cups skim milk

3/4 cup biscuit mix

3 eggs

Lightly spray pie plate with non-fat cooking spray. Sprinkle turkey, mushrooms, onions, salt and cheese in pie plate. Beat remaining ingredients for one minute with a hand beater until smooth. Pour into pie plate. Bake in 400°F oven for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown and knife inserted halfway between center and edge comes out clean.

Let stand five minutes before cutting. Refrigerate any remaining pie. Enjoy!

Nutrition Corner Mary R. Ehret Corner Mary R. Ehret

Mary Ehret is the Penn State Extension Nutrition Links Supervisor in Luzerne, Lackawanna, Monroe, Carbon, Sullivan and Bradford counties. Reach her at 570-825-1701 or at