Leftover Turkey - Dehdyrate and Use Later
Americans will waste 200 million pounds of Thanksgiving turkey every year!
By Tiffany Hsu; November 19, 2012
Americans will buy 581 million pounds of turkey meat for Thanksgiving this year but will trash more than one-third of it, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Some 204 million pounds of meat (of a total of 736 million pounds of fowl purchased overall) will end up in the garbage after the holiday feast, according to an NRDC blog post. The resources required to produce each pound of wasted turkey add up to a car driven 11 miles and a 130-minute shower.
And turkey prices are up 7% from a year ago, pushed by the severe summer drought, according to a report on food site.
So what can we do about it?
By the time you are ready to throw that turkey carcass into the trash, there should be nothing left but gobbets of fat and dry bones.
Cut off all the best portions of meat and set them aside.
- Remove all visible fat and rinse under hot water to remove any other shreds of fat. Dice this meat into ½ inch cubes and dehydrate at 140º until it’s dry and crumbly.
- The smaller crumbs are perfect to dehydrate shredded. Again, dehydrate at 140º until dry and crumbly. Use it in gravies, soups, stews, and casseroles.
Make Soup From the Rest.
There are two ways to make soup.
The first way uses everything you had leftover:
- Take everything else and scrape it into the biggest pot you’ve got. Use your canning pot if necessary.
- Toss any leftover veggies (greens, mashed potatoes, etc.) into the pot as well.
- Got some leftover dressing that might not be eaten? Toss it in, too! It makes great seasoning.
- Add some water and give it a stir. Put it on to summer for several hours until the meat completely falls off the bones.
- Let it cool. Scrape the congealed fat off the top and pull out the bones. Now you have a fantastic soup to serve. Freeze small portions for use over the next three months.
The second way to make soup is like this:
- Put your turkey carcass and any scraps of fat and bones into the pot. Add a few onions, simply cut in half; several whole stalks of celery; a bay leaf or two, and salt and pepper.
- Simmer until the meat falls off the bones.
- Remove the onions, celery, and bay leaf. You can eat them; or puree them and put in another dish for seasoning if you like.
- Remove the meat and bones from the stock and let it cool. Every bit of the meat scraps should slide off the bones. Toss the bones and visible fat. Shred the meat.
- Rinse the meat in hot water to remove any excess fat. You might want to soak the meat in water in the fridge overnight. Every last little bit of fat will float to the surface. Skim that off, drain the meat, and dehydrate it. See my post on Dehydrating Pork for photos on how to do this. The principle is the same, whether you are using pork, chicken, or whatever.
- Dehydrate the meat at 140º until it is dry and crispy. It will be shelf stable for years.
- Take that turkey broth and use it in soups, gravies, etc. This is one of the few things I recommend freezing. Freeze it in one or two cup portions. It’s easier to thaw and you never have any leftovers to refrigerate. I found the most efficient way to do it is to use quart freezer bags. Put a six-month “use by” date on each bag. Lay them flat on a cookie tray to freeze them. That way they can stack flat in your freezer without lumpy bulgy bags wasting a lot of space.
Linda's Note: I’ve experimented with cooking the stock down and making my own consume and dehydrating it. However, over time, it turned black and nasty. I do not recommend doing this, especially for long-term storage.
What to do with dehydrated turkey:
- Rehydrate small portions and make shredded turkey salad sandwiches.
- Use it in soups and stews.
- Fantastic in gravies.
- Make one-dish casseroles.
- Make a thick gravy using dehydrated turkey with dehydrated peas, crushed dehydrated onions, dehydrated cooked rice or dehydrated cooked barley (or whatever your favorite cooked dehydrated grain might be) and serve it over toast or biscuits.