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How To Remove Bad Smells In A Fridge Caused By Leftover Turkey

Kristen Aiken
·Senior Editor of Food and Style, HuffPost
·2-min read
Don't you dare cover this loosely and toss it in your refrigerator. (Photo: smartstock via Getty Images)
Don't you dare cover this loosely and toss it in your refrigerator. (Photo: smartstock via Getty Images)

While it may be true that everyone’s favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the leftovers, there’s something we never talk about ― that gamey odor of leftover turkey that lurks in your refrigerator.

As early as Friday morning, you may open your fridge to be hit by the faint, unpleasant smell of decay. By Saturday or Sunday, it grows stronger and more unbearable ― even if your turkey hasn’t gone bad. But there are simple steps (aside from immediately eating all your leftover turkey) that you can take to prevent this from happening.

Here’s how to wrap up your leftover turkey and prep your fridge for a stink-free Thanksgiving leftovers experience.

How to properly wrap leftover turkey

If you’re tired after Thanksgiving dinner, it may be tempting to loosely cover your turkey with foil and toss it in the fridge. But that’s the equation for a stinky tomorrow. Now is not the time to procrastinate ― clean your turkey carcass immediately after dinner, within two hours of cooking.

First, separate the meat from the bones. If you plan to use the bones for turkey soup, pack them separately from the pieces of meat. Otherwise, you can discard them.

Package white and dark meat separately, because dark meat’s higher fat content tends to emit more of an odor than white meat.

Your storage containers matter. Store your meat in shallow, air-tight containers ― not just a glass casserole dish with a lid, but something that seals with pressure. Another option is a zipper-lock baggie that’s had all the air removed.

You can store cooked turkey in the refrigerator for up to four days, or in the freezer for up to four months.

Separate bones from meat before you store your leftover turkey in the fridge or freezer. (Photo: EThamPhoto via Getty Images)
Separate bones from meat before you store your leftover turkey in the fridge or freezer. (Photo: EThamPhoto via Getty Images)

Prep your fridge to absorb the turkey’s odor

Now that your turkey is stored properly, arm your fridge with some odor-absorbing powerhouses. Luckily, two of the best ones are probably already in your kitchen ― The United States Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service recommends sprinkling fresh coffee grounds or baking soda loosely in a large, shallow container in the bottom of the refrigerator to absorb food odors. (If you don’t have a lot of room in your fridge, you can use a partially opened box of baking soda.) Remove it from your refrigerator once you’ve eaten all the leftover turkey and discard.

How to clean your fridge after a turkey mess

If for some reason you didn’t wrap your turkey securely and its juices leaked onto the shelves of your refrigerator, FSIS says to wipe the fridge’s shelf with a cloth that’s been soaked in equal parts white distilled vinegar and water.

Now go enjoy a stink-free long weekend and enjoy some of our favorite Thanksgiving leftovers recipes.

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This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.