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.
Some of you raise your own turkey and some will need to buy 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 (Safe instructions from Still Tasty)
- Brine turkey to make it extra juicy
- Slide pats of butter up under the breast skin for juicy white meat
- Baste with juices!
Here is a nice article on Food.com about how to brine and roast your turkey.
If you are interested in reading about heritage turkeys for your table, check out my article on Dressing a Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving.
Want to impress everyone with homemade pies? Perfect pie hacks will help you set a pretty dessert table!
- Try making your own mincemeat pie filling
- A very nice pie crust recipe from Sally’s Baking Addiction (uses shortening & butter)
- Make a pumpkin pie from a pumpkin! From Food Network
- Here’s a gorgeous Pecan Pie from Gimme Some Oven (someday I’ll share my recipe)
- Want to try Sweet Potato Pie? Here’s an easy recipe from AboutFood.com
- You can make your whipped cream ahead of time with this recipe from Chowhound!
Tired of the storebought stuffing mix? Try these tips for perfect stuffing…
- Make your favorite white or wheat bread recipe several days ahead. Cube and dry bread in an oven or food dehydrator until crispy.
- Use your own turkey or chicken broth made ahead and frozen or canned.
- Rubbed sage, rosemary, and thyme from your own garden taste wonderful!
- Chop onion and celery and saute in lots of butter (I use 1/2 cup of butter)
- 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.
- I never follow a recipe, I just mix up what looks right. If you’d like a recipe, check out this one from AllRecipes.com. (Personally, I would skip the mushrooms.)
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 a day or 2 ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator.
- Mix up your pie crust dough a day or 2 ahead of time 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.
Need help with your gravy? Check out this article from Rodale’s Organic Life.
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. Now if I could just take some photos to share with you!
What is your favorite Thanksgiving Hack? I’d love to hear about it!