Thanksgiving Hacks for Homesteaders
Just in case you need a little help getting ready for the big day, here are some Thanksgiving hacks for the homesteader… or for anyone really! I’m sharing tips for making prep work go more smoothly and some links to recipes and helpful instructions. I hope this helps reduce your stress levels this week.
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Thanksgiving Turkey Hacks
Some of you raise your own turkeys and some will need to purchase one for Thanksgiving. Either way, here are some helpful turkey hacks…
- Butcher the bird 1 or 2 days ahead and chill so the meat will be tender
- Complete instructions for How To Butcher a Turkey
- Butcher ahead of time and freeze to reduce pre-holiday stress
- Thaw your frozen turkey – allow 1 day for every 4 pounds of meat
- Learn How to Brine and Roast a Turkey (try my recipe for maple brine!)
- Slide pats of butter under the breast skin for juicy white meat
- Baste with juices!
Make Your Own Homemade Pies
Want to impress everyone with homemade pies? Try these pie hacks to set a pretty dessert table. There’s no shame in using a mix or premade crusts to help save time!
- Create your own mincemeat pie filling
- Learn how to cook pie pumpkins to make your own pumpkin filling
- Try your hand at making pie crusts or purchase a mix to save time (#ad)
- Make your own whipped cream or try a shelf-stable mix (#ad)
Tired of the storebought stuffing mix? (#ad) Try these tips for perfect stuffing…
- Cube and dry bread in an oven or food dehydrator until crispy (#ad)
- Use your own turkey or chicken broth made ahead and frozen or canned
- Use sage, rosemary, and thyme from your own garden or purchase poultry seasoning (#ad)
- Chop onion and celery and saute in butter, margarine, or olive oil
- Add your broth and a teaspoon of salt then stir it into the frying pan with the veggies until hot
- Place dried bread and herbs in a large bowl
- Pour the broth mixture over the bread and mix thoroughly (Bread should be moist but not soggy)
- Don’t stuff your bird, bake the stuffing separately for food safety
Make It Ahead
You can make quite a few things ahead of time and relieve some of the stress on turkey day!
- Make your own dinner rolls and bake until almost done. Take them out of the oven before they brown and you have homemade ‘brown and serve’ rolls.
- Muffins and quick bread can be made ahead and frozen or stored in the refrigerator
- Mix up your pie crust dough a day ahead and store it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator. You can also roll the crusts out, fit them in your pie pans, stick them in a large plastic bag, and freeze them the week before Thanksgiving.
- My neighbor’s wife used to roast her turkey the day before Thanksgiving, then she would slice and arrange the meat on heat-proof platters to refrigerate overnight. The next day the platters went in the oven shortly before dinner. I think this could dry the turkey out, but maybe some drippings would help.
- Homemade cranberry sauce is super easy to make the day ahead and refrigerate. Wash and sort berries, add enough water to the bottom of the pan to prevent burning, add berries, and cook until tender. Add just enough sugar or honey to sweeten to taste. Chill and serve cold.
- Get your table and decor ready ahead of time, too! This frees up time for cooking later.
Gravy Hack: Lumpy Gravy? Strain it through a sieve to remove the lumps, then heat and serve.
I’m certainly not perfect! And I’ve had lumpy gravy, dried-out turkey, and burned dinner rolls on my Thanksgiving table. Over the years I’ve had quite a bit of practice and things go much more smoothly when I cook for the holidays.
What is your favorite Thanksgiving Hack? I’d love to hear about it!