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Keep the Yuletide flames burning with Christmas pudding ice cream ... Photo:  Brian Uhreen via Flickr CC-BY.
Keep the Yuletide flames burning with Christmas pudding ice cream ... Photo: Brian Uhreen via Flickr CC-BY.
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Reducing food waste with taste-bud tickling recipes for Christmas leftovers

Gavin Ellis

29th December 2014

Freezing Christmas leftovers can save families money, help the environment by reducing food waste, and tickle our tastebuds with new and exciting flavours, writes Gavin Ellis - who shares delightful recipes to make the most of your Christmas sprouts, turkey and plum pudding ...

So let's all come together and make a New Year resolution to freeze food before it goes to waste - it will benefit your wallet as well as the planet!

By the end of the festive season nearly three quarters of us will have struggled to eat all the food we've bought. Across the UK 2 million turkeys and 74 million mince pies will have been binned, costing us money and harming the environment.

This staggering number could be significantly cut if more of us froze food before it goes to waste. Independent research has shown that the average family could save £250 a year and cut food waste by half through freezing leftovers.

Polling carried out by the new charity Hubbub has discovered that the freezer is the Siberia of the kitchen - where food is sent never to return. 55% of those who do freeze food forget about it.

Over half the people polled told us that a lack of space in the freezer causes food to go waste. Two-fifths of people were unsure what they could freeze and how long it is safe to keep something frozen.

Festive Freeze

In response to this, Hubbub is today launching Festive Freeze, urging us to embrace our freezers this Christmas and transform festive leftovers into spring dinners.

It's easy too - we've put together some top tips and tools around what's hot and what's not when freezing food.

The campaign dispels the main myths around freezer use - what can and can't be frozen; the impact on nutrition; the cost of running a freezer; and the impact on food quality. We've provided downloadable tools to help such as a freezer inventory and labels.

Plus we've collected a flurry of freezer-friendly recipes that transform tired turkey and stodgy sprouts into tantalising meals that can be frozen ready to fight off the January blues.

Hugh Fearney-Whittingstall offers chestnut and sage soup, Mark Hix shows us how to make Moroccan turkey cigars, Tom Hunt gives us a brussel sprout detox salad, there's a turkey, sausage and bacon pie from Tom Aikens, brandy butter from Darina Allen and much more - and a few of our own favorites follow below.

Most of us know that by this time of year bank balances have shrunk and waist lines have grown. In a (chest)nutshell Festive Freeze helps households save money and stamp out the absurdity of food waste.

So let's all come together and make a New Year resolution to freeze food before it goes to waste - it will benefit your wallet as well as the planet!

Charred sprout dip

To use up leftover sprouts we would suggest embracing the strong flavour of these brassicas (one of the finest vegetable species in our opinion, yielding cultivars such as broccoli, savoy cabbage and the still hip kale) by making them into a dip.


Leftover cooked sprouts
Milk and thick yoghurt / creme fraiche as desired
Cider vinegar


Take any leftover cooked sprouts, slice them in half lengthways and heat cut face down on a griddle or heavy pan over a high heat. Re-cook the sprouts in this way until they are partly charred on the underside. You don't want them to be totally blackened, but a good strong char will give a great flavour.

Whilst still warm, blend the charred sprouts in a food processor or blender with enough warmed milk to form a thick puree. Mix your choice of creme fraiche or thick (e.g. Greek-style) yoghurt into the puree, to add richness and dairy tang.

Add a little at a time and stop when you have a balance that you like, there are no rules here. Finally season with a little cider vinegar and salt to taste.

Recipe by Mike Knowlden of Blanch & Shock.

Turkey pilaf with seasoned yoghurt

Leftover turkey will give us all the flavour we need to make a delicious stock. A stock takes minutes to prepare makes the most of what we have and steps the dish up a notch giving it an unbelievably good flavour.

This meal for four costs next to nothing to make yet feels decadent and exotic. Recipe by Tom Hunt, Eco chef and food waste activist.

Video available online for guidance.

For the stock (makes about 450ml):

1 leftover turkey or chicken carcass, with any meat picked off and kept to one side. 
1 carrot, onion, stick celery, all finely chopped
Any veggies that need using up, such as courgettes, broccoli, kale, mushrooms...

For the pilaf:

500g roast carrots and parsnips, cut into rough cubes  
2 medium onions, sliced 
4 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
1 tablespoon ground coriander
Pinch of cinnamon 
150-250g of leftover turkey or chicken meat, shredded
150g wholegrain basmati
50g nuts, crushed 
Yoghurt to serve, spiced with coriander, salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 180C

1. First make the stock. Pick all the meat from the carcass and put to one side. Put all the bones and stock vegetables in a pan and cover with water. Bring to the boil and simmer for one hour. Strain. 

2. Meanwhile in a thick, ovenproof dish, gently fry the sliced onions in light olive oil for 10 minutes until they are soft and caramelized. Add the coriander, cinnamon and garlic and fry for a further 2 minutes. 

3. Add the rice and stir, coating each and every grain with oil, onion and spice. 

4. Add the turkey or chicken meat and cover with stock. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat. Taste and adjust the seasoning as required. Put the lid on and put in the oven for 45 minutes until the water has evaporated. 

5. Sprinkle with nuts and serve with the spiced yoghurt.

Christmas pudding ice cream

A cheat's version of Rum and Raisin using leftover Christmas Pudding. Recipe by Love Food Hate Waste.


125g leftover Christmas pudding, crumbled.
150ml chilled ready made custard.
150ml double cream, whipped.
Liquor such as branch, rum, whisky or Baileys. 


Mix together the custard and whipped cream then stir in the crumbled Christmas pudding. Freeze in a large Tupperware container and stir every half hour or so until it's the consistency you want.

For a softer freeze, add a little brandy or leftover Christmas liquor such as rum, whisky or Baileys.


For more ideas, receipes, and to submit your own recipe, visit Festive Freeze.

Gavin Ellis is one of the Founders of Hubbub. Previously Gavin was Senior Client Manager at Global Action Plan, one of the UK's leading environmental charities. He has been involved in communicating sustainability to mainstream audiences for more than ten years.


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