From the time the turkey comes out of the oven until the leftovers find their way back to the refrigerator should not exceed two hours. That also goes for the stuffing and gravy. After two hours at room temperature, bacteria levels may have grown to dangerous levels.

The stuffing should be removed from the bird. If you need to keep it hot, store it in the oven at 200 degrees.

Once you put the turkey in the refrigerator, it should cool rapidly. Remember, bacteria will keep multiplying until the meat reaches 40 degrees. To cool properly, not only should the stuffing be removed but the meat should be removed from the bones. If you have a lot of meat leftover, place it in several smaller dishes instead of a larger one so that it will cool more rapidly.

Tightly-covered, your leftover turkey will keep in the refrigerator for 3 or 4 days. We often store turkey meat in zipper-type plastic bags. Your stuffing and gravy should be used within a day or so.

If you would like to keep your turkey longer than a few days, freeze it. It will last up to three months in the freezer. Zipper-type freezer bags work well. Cut the boned turkey into pieces that your family will use. If you are going to use it for sandwiches, freeze slices. If you will use the turkey in soups and casseroles, cube it. Pull out what you need for soups, casseroles, or a stir fry. The stock or gravy can be frozen as well. If you do bagged lunches, try making the sandwiches with frozen slices. (Remember, all meat must be kept at 40 degrees, even while thawing.)


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