Problems storing your Xmas turkey

You have just got home from your big annual festive food shop and your heart sinks when you realize that your fridge will not hold everything. 

This is easily done as it is difficult to judge how much food each person will eat on Xmas day.  Everybody fears not having enough food to serve to their guests and people tend to buy more than they need.  Please do not hit the panic button… we have made up a series of simple practical solutions for you to avoid this situation.

Collect turkey from local farm

Many traditional turkey producers allow their customers to collect their turkey from their farm.  These farms have large refrigeration facilities to store your turkey. Some farms are open for collection until 2 pm on December 24th.  Therefore, arrange to collect your turkey just before they close which will ensure your fridge is free to stock up with cheeses, desserts, and other meats. 

You can store your turkey safely in a cool box, with up 2 litres of frozen gel pack for up to 72 hours during winter.   This can be stored in any secure watertight container outside.  Ask your local turkey producer for chilled packaging so that you can store your turkey at a safe temperature outside of your refrigerator. 

Remember, always manually check the temperature of the container that is holding the turkey.  Your turkey should always be stored as close to 2 degrees Celsius as possible.

You can purchase a fridge thermometer from Lakelands for as little as £3.99.

Buy your turkey online

Many turkey producers send their turkeys in packaging that keeps the product at around 2 degrees Celsius for up to 72 hours in winter.  Be sure to replace the coolants if you are looking to store the turkey in a safe place outside.

Rearrange your fridge

Use plastic containers to store your vegetables outside of the fridge.  Do not worry, your vegetables will keep fresh out of the fridge for a few days. This will give you space for other meats, seafood and dairy products to be stored safely.


Free up some vital space by storing your drinks outside in the garage.  White wine only takes 60 minutes to cool to the required temperature in the freezer while beer takes only 15 minutes.  Therefore, you can put the alcohol in the freezer on Xmas day just before you serve it.  This will free up some much-needed fridge space.

Refrigerating your turkey

If you have enough space in your refrigerator for your turkey, you should store it on the bottom shelf of your fridge as this is the coolest part of the fridge.  Store the turkey as close to 2 degrees as possible and in the original packaging.   You should also store any other seafood or meats at the bottom part of the fridge.  This means you will probably have to readjust the shelves in your fridge to accommodate the meat and seafood.  This will help you maximise the storing potential of your Xmas food.

Again, check your fridge is running properly by purchasing a fridge thermometer. 

Allow turkey to stand

Free up much-needed space in your fridge by allowing your turkey to stand for around 1hour and 30 minutes before cooking.  This will allow the turkey to reach room temperature and cook more evenly.  You can load up the fridge with drinks from the garage at this point. 

Storing leftover turkey

In order to maximise the space in your fridge, it is worth carving all of the remaining meat off the turkey carcass.  You can simply run the knife along each side of the breastbone to remove each lobe of breast meat quickly.  Then you can simply divide it into portions and return it to the fridge or freeze it as required.

The Food Standards Agency recommend that you should keep the cooked turkey away from raw meat and use it up within 2 days. It is safe to freeze cooked turkey according to Food Standards.

Final Thoughts

It is worth drawing up a shopping list in advance and taking the time to establish the kitchen storage capacity you have available.  Do not be afraid to phone up your local turkey producer and ask them the dimensions of the turkey. A little bit of planning at this stage goes a long way in providing a relaxing atmosphere in your household for you to enjoy the festive period with your family and friends.


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Craig Michie

Based at Lochend of Barra, Inverurie, Craig Michie left a job as a town planner in 2009 and travelled around South America where he met his Columbian wife Maria. The couple returned to Scotland and the century-old family farm to create Barra Bronzes which was named winner in the ‘Judge’s Choice category, runner-up for ‘Best New Retail Product (businesses with up to 25 employees),’ and was named as highly commended in the ‘Best Young Business’ category at the Grampian Food Forum Innovation Awards 2016. In 2021, Craig won the UK Poultry Farmer of the Year award.

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