Hints and tips
It's Christmas Eve!
Hurrah! Christmas is nearly here! Here is one thing that you don't need to do - do not wash your turkey before cooking it because it can spread more germs if they get splashed onto kitchen surfaces and cloths. Thorough cooking will kill all the bacteria instead.
And talking of jobs that you don’t need to do – why not jot down some of the things that other people can do to help tomorrow so that when they pop their heads into the kitchen and ask if they can do anything, you can set them to work!
If you don’t want people under your feet, then ask them to help afterwards to wrap and stack leftovers in the fridge so that any leftovers last long enough for you to have a good break from cooking!
Make the most of your loaf!
If you are stocking up on bread for all those cold meat sandwiches and leisurely breakfasts, don’t forget that bread will go stale more quickly if it’s put in the fridge. It’s best in the freezer or on the counter top. Leftover stale bread can be whizzed up into breadcrumbs for the bread sauce or sliced and transformed into French Toast with Honey.
Guide to defrosting your turkey
Don’t get in a tizzy over turkey. To work out the defrosting time for your turkey, check the packaging for any guidance first. If there aren't any defrosting instructions, use the following times to work out roughly how long it will take to thaw your turkey.
In a fridge at 4ºC (39ºF), allow about 10 to 12 hours per kg (2.2 lbs), but remember that not all fridges will be this temperature, in a cool room (below 17.5ºC, 64ºF), allow approximately three to four hours per kg or longer if the room is particularly cold, and at room temperature (about 20ºC, 68ºF) allow approximately two hours per kg. When your turkey is fully defrosted, put it in the fridge until you're ready to cook it. If this isn't possible, make sure you cook it immediately.
Plan your portions
Stuffing and brandy butter are two of the treats that can be made in advance and frozen. It’s one less thing to have to think about on the big day. If you tend to peel enough veg to feed an army, why not check the online portion planner so that you know how much fresh veg you need to buy and prepare.
Make Christmas last
It all adds up. Don’t be tempted to rush to the shops after Christmas. Plan instead to make the most of your Christmas foods. If you are worried that you will end up with lots of little Christmas bits and pieces, here are some ideas. Leftover cranberry jelly can be used in brownies; mayonnaise in a moist chocolate cake, after dinner mints in ice cream and just a few spoonfuls of leftover pudding can make a strudel or add flavour to ice-cream.
If unexpected guests are a possibility, put your mind at rest with some of our ‘great for freezing’ recipes. It’s a good idea to freeze them in individual portions so that you can defrost the exact amounts that you need if extras turn up unannounced. It’s hard to judge if people will have enough room for pudding with so much food around. Prevent waste by having some standbys in the cupboard – tinned tropical fruit and a packet of readymade crumble topping and a quick crumble can be yours.
Finding that extra storage
If you know that you will be needing extra storage space for foods that like to be kept cool and dry (eg potatoes, onions, bread etc) then how about finding a secure lidded box for use in a garage, shed, greenhouse or even balcony? Sometimes the boot of a car or cool box can act as an emergency cold storage area for the short term!
Mince pie - handy tips
Mince pies can be made in advance and frozen uncooked. You might like to add little extras to shop bought mincemeat and at the same time use up some of those storecupboard items that can get forgotten eg chopped dried fruits, nuts, seeds, cherries and of course, cooking brandy! If homemade mincemeat isn’t your thing, how about using those ingredients with some melted dark chocolate, melted butter and crushed biscuits to make fridge cake. Cut into small squares and wrapped up in a gift bag it can make a nice homemade prezzie.
Guests with dietary requirements
Do you know of anyone coming with allergies or special dietary requirements?
Make a note on your meal plan so that you are not caught out when the shops are shut. A good tip is to have a veggie alternative from our online recipe finder stashed away.
Nuts and nibbles
Crackers and crisps, boxes of biscuits and packets of nuts will all have a long best before date on them so it’s quite safe to buy them in advance – especially if they are on special offer. If savoury snacks get opened early and go a little soggy, a short time spread on a baking tray and popped into a warm oven for just a few minutes will help them get crisped up again as they cool down.