How To Freeze Dry Turkey

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Freeze Dried Meats

What usually happens when it’s Thanksgiving? Either you run out of turkey before the grand day or have too much left over from dinner. Here’s how to freeze dry turkey so you can store them and have a fallback for your next Thanksgiving dinner.

What Kind of Turkey Meat Is Okay to Freeze Dry?

Any turkey meat is good for freeze-drying, so you can choose between red and white. Red meat, of course, has a bit more fat content on it compared to white meat. So if you want a healthier option, you can choose the white part of the bird.

But what if I don’t have a whole bird?

You can use sliced turkey from your favorite deli or some frozen turkey breasts from the supermarket. Go for thick slices if you can because the thin ones can easily break into pieces inside Mylar bags.

Preparing the Turkey for Freeze Drying

There are different ways to prepare turkey for freeze-drying.

Roasted turkey

If you got a roasted Thanksgiving bird, you can either slice them into 1/2 or 3/4 thickness. Or you can shred them into flakes to add to soups or stews later. Whichever way you prefer, remember to take out the bones. Bones don’t freeze dry easily, but you can use them for a nutritious bone stock.

raw turkey with seasonings on cutting board

Raw turkey

Let’s say you have some uncooked turkey pieces because you didn’t have room for the whole bird. You can freeze-dry these by slicing them up into turkey steaks or in small 2-inch cubes.

Separate handling of raw poultry from cooked ones to prevent cross-contamination. Always remember to wash your hands before and after handling raw meat.


Turkey deli is delicious to have in sandwiches or even soups. They’re already seasoned and pre-cooked, making them perfect for freeze-drying. No special preparation here is needed. Just line them up on the trays evenly without touching each other. They’re pretty thin, so if they stick and you have to take them apart? They’ll break apart easily.

Turkey stuffing

Love the stuffing you made now and wish you could have it again next year? You can also freeze dry this with the roasted turkey. Just put them in the same tray as your cooked turkey, and it’s good to go.

Is Pre-Freezing Necessary?

Pre-freezing is just an option, but it can help shorten your freeze-drying time. If you have a lot of bird meat to freeze dry, then freezing can help lessen the load on your freeze dryer.

When you freeze your turkey, it’s better to do the raw and the cooked meats separately. Poultry, like chicken, is known to harbor salmonella, and this bird isn’t an exception. If you need to stack the trays, put the tray of raw meat at the bottom so to avoid accidental drippings.

How To Freeze Dry Turkey

Freeze-drying turkey can be easy. And just like with pre-freezing, it’s best to keep the cooked and raw poultry separate to prevent cross-contamination.

  1. Turn on the machine and choose whether or not your turkey’s pre-frozen.
  2. If you pre-froze your bird, pre-cool your unit for 15-30 minutes.
  3. With a Harvest Right freeze dryer, you don’t have to customize the settings. But should you prefer it and your bird isn’t frozen, you can set the freeze cycle to 10-12 hours. Depending on your food, the dry cycle can be between 12-16 hours.
  4. Close the drain valve when the freeze dryer’s ready and load the trays.
  5. Press continue, and your freeze dryer will do its work.

How Long Is The Freeze Drying Time?

This will depend on several factors like the room temperature, the thickness of the food subject, and the water content. On average, freeze-drying turkey can take between 24-36 hours.

roasted turkey carved on parchment paper

How Do I Know That The Freeze Drying’s Done?

Sometimes, the freeze-dryer will tell you it’s done freeze drying, but the bird is still moist. To check if your bird’s freeze-dried properly, touch each piece, especially the thick ones. They should crumble easily and feel crunchy and dry right down the middle.

If any piece feels wet, soft, and cool, put the trays back and add 2-4 hours of extra dry time.

Can You Freeze Dry Turkey Meals?

Let’s say you decided to make a meal from your leftover Thanksgiving turkey, like soup or pie. You can certainly freeze-dry them easily, about the same way as above.

If you’re going to freeze dry turkey noodle soup or the turkey bone broth you made, weighing is necessary. This is to help you know the exact amount of water you’ll need to reconstitute it.

Get the wet weight in grams of your soup or broth and label each tray with it. After freeze-drying, measure the dry weight as well. Then, subtract the dry weight from the wet weight to see how much water was taken out. The result would be the volume of water in mL that you’ll need to reconstitute the meals.

How Long Does Freeze-Dried Turkey Last?

Freeze-dried turkey can last for 25 years or more when stored properly. Your Mylar bags or Mason jars should be vacuum sealed along with oxygen absorbers. If you’re not sure how much oxygen absorbers to use, 1-2 pieces of 300cc OAs are enough for every gallon size of your container.

How was your Thanksgiving, and what do you plan to do with your leftovers? Let us know in the comment section.

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