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The Christmas dinner essentials you can start preparing NOW including turkey and mince pies

While December 25 is still over a month away, many hosts across the UK will be steeling themselves already.

Some will be panicking about the timings — and how long they’ll be stuck in the kitchen, while everyone else is having fun. But there might just be an easy solution…

British consumer experts at Which? have revealed that most components of a Christmas dinner can be cooked, frozen or chilled, and reheated on the day and — best of all — your guests will never know.

Most of the components on a roast dinner can be cooked up to three months before, including turkey and mince pies. 

But remember to follow storage and freezing guidance on ready-prepared dishes, such as shop-bought mince pies.

British consumer experts at Which? have revealed that most of the components of a Christmas dinner can be cooked months in advance British consumer experts at Which? have revealed that most of the components of a Christmas dinner can be cooked months in advance

British consumer experts at Which? have revealed that most of the components of a Christmas dinner can be cooked months in advance 

The experts revealed that, with a little preparation, Christmas day need not be spent working in the kitchen.

On the topic, Ele Clark, Which? Retail Editor said: ‘Spreading your Christmas spending over a longer period is a well-known tactic when it comes to gifts, but it can be applied to your festive feast too – and this will also put you ahead of the game when it comes to preparing for the big day.

‘From roast potatoes, turkey and trimmings to sprouts and mince pies, it’s amazing how many elements of Christmas dinner can be safely prepared and stored in advance, freeing you up to enjoy Christmas Day and potentially saving much-needed cash to help see you through the most expensive time of the year.’

Turkey is often considered to be star of the show when it comes to a Christmas dinner.

But the long cook time means it can take up all the oven space for hours, leaving no room for potatoes and vegetables.

However, Which? revealed that the Christmas joint can be made three to six months in advance, with a little help from the freezer.

And that’s not the only part, roast potatoes, gravy, and Yorkshire puddings can all be prepared prior to the special day.

Here, FEMAIL reveals how far in advance you can prep, cook, and store popular Christmas dinner dishes in the run-up to the big day.

Turkey 

Avoid Christmas day cooking stress by preparing the turkey in advance and storing it in the freezer Avoid Christmas day cooking stress by preparing the turkey in advance and storing it in the freezer

Avoid Christmas day cooking stress by preparing the turkey in advance and storing it in the freezer 

Can you make in advance? Yes

How to store: Keep in the fridge for up to two days either raw or cooked, and in the freezer for three to six months, raw or cooked. 

Thoroughly defrost in the fridge or on your microwave’s defrost setting, but never thaw at room temperature, then cook straight away.

Don’t part-cook a raw turkey before freezing as it could lead to food poisoning – it should be either fully cooked or raw beforehand and wrapped well to prevent juices getting on to other foods, and to avoid freezer burn to the meat.

Roast potatoes 

Save time by peeling, cutting, and parboiling the roast potatoes in advance, and store them in the freezer Save time by peeling, cutting, and parboiling the roast potatoes in advance, and store them in the freezer

Save time by peeling, cutting, and parboiling the roast potatoes in advance, and store them in the freezer 

Can you make in advance? Yes 

How to store: Refrigerate for up to two days if either roasted or parboiled and ready to roast, both can be frozen for up to three months. 

Peel, cut, and parboil the potatoes for five minutes, drain then bash them to rough up the sides before drizzling with oil and flash freeze. 

Also known as open freezing, this is when you freeze smaller food items separately before bagging them so you can take what you need and avoid waste in the process. 

Some fridge-freezers come with a freezing tray which can be used for this but if you don’t have one, a simple baking tray will do.

After this, you can transfer to an airtight container or sealed bag and cook straight from frozen when needed.

Yorkshire Puddings  

Yorkshire puddings can be kept in the fridge for up to two days if cooked from fresh, or up to three months in the freezer Yorkshire puddings can be kept in the fridge for up to two days if cooked from fresh, or up to three months in the freezer

Yorkshire puddings can be kept in the fridge for up to two days if cooked from fresh, or up to three months in the freezer 

Can you make in advance? Yes 

How to store: Keep in the fridge for up to two days if cooked from fresh, or up to three months in the freezer. The batter can be refrigerated for one day and frozen for one month.

After you’ve cooked your puddings in advance, cool on a wire tray then flash freeze to avoid them sticking together before transferring to an airtight container to store in the freezer.

Reheat for 10 minutes from frozen and, if they need it, spritz them with water before reheating or wait for the Christmas gravy to work its magic.

 Parsnips. carrots, and Brussels sprouts 

If preparing vegetables in advance, make sure to cut off any discoloured parts first to keep the vegetables as fresh as possible If preparing vegetables in advance, make sure to cut off any discoloured parts first to keep the vegetables as fresh as possible

If preparing vegetables in advance, make sure to cut off any discoloured parts first to keep the vegetables as fresh as possible 

Can you make in advance? Yes 

How to store: Keep in the fridge for up to two days if cooked, longer if raw, or up to three months in the freezer if they’re blanched. 

When you’re prepping fresh vegetables such as Brussels sprouts, parsnips or red cabbage, cut off any discoloured parts then blanch, flash freeze on a tray to stop the pieces sticking together and transfer to an airtight container.

Although some people suggest vegetables can keep for 12 months frozen, three months is optimal for maintaining flavour, texture, colour and nutrient content – this applies whether you’re freezing fresh veg or pre-cooked versions such as braised red cabbage, roast parsnips or Brussels with pancetta and chestnuts.

Gravy, cranberry sauce, and bread sauce  

Gravy and bread sauce can last two days in the fridge when cooked from fresh, or in the freezer for up to three months Gravy and bread sauce can last two days in the fridge when cooked from fresh, or in the freezer for up to three months

Gravy and bread sauce can last two days in the fridge when cooked from fresh, or in the freezer for up to three months

Can you make in advance? Yes

How to store: Cranberry sauce can be made and refrigerated for up to two weeks, whereas gravy and bread sauce can last two days in the fridge when cooked from fresh, or in the freezer for up to three months.  

Gravy freezes and defrosts well but, unlike fresh gravy, which can be kept in the fridge for two days, defrosted gravy should be used within 24 hours.

A high sugar content is one of the reasons that made-from-scratch cranberry sauce can be kept in the fridge for a couple of weeks.

Frozen bread sauce works best if you add the cream once you’ve defrosted it.

Smoked salmon and blinis 

Smoked salmon and blinis are best prepared on Christmas day because they can't be frozen once assembled Smoked salmon and blinis are best prepared on Christmas day because they can't be frozen once assembled

Smoked salmon and blinis are best prepared on Christmas day because they can’t be frozen once assembled 

Can you make in advance? No, they’re best prepared on the day they’re eaten and can’t be frozen once assembled.

How to store: Separate ingredients can be refrigerated for up to two days or blinis can be frozen for six months and smoked salmon for three. 

Although you can refrigerate or freeze the separate ingredients, don’t prep until you’re just about to serve them to give you time to toast the blinis and avoid the crème fraiche making them soggy.

Pigs in blankets  

Raw pigs in blankets can be frozen for up to three months - just flash freeze them first so they don't stick together Raw pigs in blankets can be frozen for up to three months - just flash freeze them first so they don't stick together

Raw pigs in blankets can be frozen for up to three months – just flash freeze them first so they don’t stick together

Can you make in advance? Yes 

How to store: Keep refrigerated for three to four days in advance either fresh or cooked, or in the freezer for up to three months

You can freeze raw pigs in blankets you’ve made from uncooked sausages and bacon for up to three months – just flash freeze them first so they don’t stick together and store in an airtight container.

If you want to cook them first, they’ll freeze for the same amount of time, but when you get them out of the freezer to reheat and serve up on Christmas Day you may find they’re at risk of overcooking and drying out.

Mince Pies  

If cooked, mince pies can be stored for up to one week in an airtight container or frozen for up to three months If cooked, mince pies can be stored for up to one week in an airtight container or frozen for up to three months

If cooked, mince pies can be stored for up to one week in an airtight container or frozen for up to three months

Can you make in advance? Yes

How to store: If cooked, mince pies can be stored for up to one week in an airtight container or frozen for up to three months.

If you’re cooking your own, they won’t keep for as long as shop-bought ones – which contain preservatives.

Mince pies made with traditional short crust pastry can be frozen either cooked or raw. If you’re using puff pastry, freeze them uncooked and bake on the day for best results.

Christmas Pudding 

Some say it's actually better if you cook and store your Christmas pudding in advance - especially if you regularly 'feed' it with brandy or sherry Some say it's actually better if you cook and store your Christmas pudding in advance - especially if you regularly 'feed' it with brandy or sherry

Some say it’s actually better if you cook and store your Christmas pudding in advance – especially if you regularly ‘feed’ it with brandy or sherry

Can you make in advance? Yes

How to store: Three to six months in a cool, dry place, or freeze for up to a year. 

In fact, some say it’s actually better if you cook and store your Christmas pudding in advance – especially if you regularly ‘feed’ it with brandy or sherry. 

Christmas

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