Dear Barbara: I always have leftover turkey after Thanksgiving. My family will make sandwiches the second day and then they burn out on turkey. Can I take the rest of the meat off and freeze it? How long can I keep it frozen? — Shannon from Lodi
Dear Shannon: If you follow a few simple rules, you can freeze left over turkey for about a month before it starts losing its quality and texture.
First of all, don’t let it set out for hours while your guests are there. If they haven’t had seconds within an hour, they probably won’t. Refrigerate the remainder until you can freeze it. That means after your company leaves — or at the latest the following day — (after everyone has had that “day after” turkey sandwich! It is a good idea not to freeze it all in one freezer bag. Think about what you are going to use it for and how much turkey you will need for each dish. You can cube some for soups, stews, pot pies and salad. Some could be shredded for tamales, or enchiladas or sliders. Put each recipe portion in a freezer bag; date it and write which recipe it is for. Be sure you get as much air out of the bag as possible and that it is sealed tightly.
Dear Barbara: I found a recipe that I wanted to try for Thanksgiving and couldn’t, because I couldn’t find pomegranate molasses. Do you know who sells it? — Lily from Galt
Dear Lily: That is a popular question this year. I was looking for some for myself and an employee of Raley’s said that she had had many requests for it and also had looked around town and couldn’t find any.
In the Food Network magazine, it stated that if you couldn’t find pomegranate molasses or syrup, Alton Brown had posted a recipe on the Food Network website. There are only three ingredients in it: Pomegranate juice, sugar and lemon juice! It just takes a while to reduce it, so you might want to make it the day before.
It is an essential ingredient in Middle Eastern cooking, so you may want to try a store that sells Middle Eastern products.
Dear Barbara: I want to make a gingerbread house with my kids this year. I know you can buy kits, but how long will the gingerbread house last? And can you eat them? — Renée from Lodi
Dear Renée: Most of the time if you buy a kit, the components are edible. If you keep it in a dry place (weather affects the gingerbread), it should be just fine and edible for up to six months. However, keep in mind that humidity will soften the gingerbread. With young children, I’m sure it is not going to last six months, because they want to eat their house! The houses collect dust just like your real house, so you may want to keep it covered when no one is there and also at night. They will have just as much fun smashing and eating the house as they did making it!
Barbara Spitzer is a Lodi home cook who also develops recipes for specific consumer products. Do you have a cooking question? Send it to Barbara Spitzer at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your first name and city.