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Can you freeze gravy?

The Librarian Oct 19, 2013 10:00 AM

Given the complexities of my Thanksgiving guests' eating requirements, I always make two gravies - one is a gluten-free traditional and one a mushroom vegetarian. They add a lot of work to preparing the meal, and I was thinking that, if I could make them ahead and freeze them, things would be much easier. Any thoughts on freezing gravies? Does it make a difference what thickener you use? Over the years, I've gotten the menu down, but I'm trying to reduce the last-minute prep. If it makes a difference, I've always made my gravies ahead and reheated them which works great, but I've never frozen them before.

  1. cayjohan Oct 19, 2013 10:13 AM

    I have a family that is crazy for gravy. I always make A LOT of gravy at Thanksgiving and freeze it with no problem at all. I have always made a traditional flour-thickened giblet gravy, though. This year, however, I have to make sure that gravy is gluten-free (for me, as I feel like I have had to give up a lot of things for celiac and I am soooo unwilling to give up turkey gravy!). I'm wondering if you have any tips for the gluten-free gravy, especially pertaining to what thickener you use, freezer-worthy or not.

    16 Replies
    1. re: cayjohan
      The Librarian Oct 19, 2013 10:35 AM

      Last year I used cornstarch, and it was really good. I've also tried potato flour (not potato starch) for gravy, but I thought the taste wasn't quite right. I have used potato flour for potato pancakes/latkes, and I liked them much better than when I've used wheat flour or matzoh meal - better crispier texture.

      When TG gets closer, I will try to remember to post my make-ahead turkey gravy recipe. You roast turkey wings in the oven before simmering them with the broth - always gets rave reviews!

      1. re: The Librarian
        coll Oct 19, 2013 10:49 AM

        Flour is best if you brown it first, as you would for roux.

        1. re: coll
          cayjohan Oct 19, 2013 11:09 AM

          coll, does that hold with the cornstarch as well? I confess I am mostly ignorant on using cornstarch for gravies.

          1. re: cayjohan
            coll Oct 19, 2013 12:56 PM

            No, cornstarch gets mixed into some kind of liquid (for me, wine or vermouth) and then gets whisked in the pan, while scraping up the fond. The second it comes to a boil it's ready. Couldn't be easier.

            1. re: coll
              magiesmom Oct 19, 2013 01:04 PM

              Yes but cornstarch is lo longer thick when reheated so I would not use it for a frozen gravy.

              1. re: magiesmom
                coll Oct 19, 2013 01:26 PM

                I've heard people say that, but I've never had a problem. Then again, I don't cook it all that long. Maybe after a good while it would be true. My frozen gravy is always fine.

                1. re: coll
                  magiesmom Oct 19, 2013 03:20 PM

                  Well, that is my experience, not legend.

                  1. re: magiesmom
                    coll Oct 19, 2013 03:29 PM

                    OK I must have the magic touch ;-) Watch, now I'm jinxed.

              2. re: coll
                cayjohan Oct 19, 2013 01:08 PM

                Just one more question (and sorry, Librarian for a minor thread-jack here): being a cornstarch-in-gravy newbie, am I correct in recalling that there is an "over" point (temp? time?) in using cornstarch, where it loses its thickening power? I am so used to wheat-flour thickened gravy that I am having to relearn. If I left that cornstarch thickened gravy warming on the stovetop whilst other things were getting done, would the thickening power collapse? For reference, I generally whiz some of the roasting veg into my gravy, along with the giblets, with a hand blender, which gives a nice thickening on its own, and generally use minimal flour.


                1. re: cayjohan
                  coll Oct 19, 2013 01:27 PM

                  As I said above, I have never run into this and consider it an urban legend type thing. Then again, I'm known for undercooking rather than overcooking. When it hits a boil, I'm done, I don't hold it. Time to sit down and eat! But it reheats fine, since it's totally solid when cold.

              3. re: cayjohan
                Caroline1 Oct 19, 2013 03:58 PM

                There is a major difference between cornstarch and flour from the get-go. Cornstarch will render a "semi-transparent" sauce that is not as opaque as a roux (flour and fat) thickened sauce/gravy, and cornstarch will break down when stored in SOME dishes, but not all. It depends on what the other ingredients in the dish are.

                My personal experience with freezing a flour/roux thickened gravy is that it may separate when thawed, depending on the overall fat-to-flour content of the gravy. I don't like (again, its personal) any homemade gravies or sauces that are thickened with cornstarch and then frozen because the sauce tends to turn into a spongy gelled mass after thawing. Yes, mass produced frozen Chinese TV dinners are the exception, but hey, do you have all of the "anticoagulants" on hand that commercial processors use? '-)

                Arrowroot is an approved thickener for celiac disease, BUT it's really nasty if used to thicken any creamy dairy-like sauces, but it might be a good choice for you.

                At any rate, there's a lot of good information on thickeners here: http://www.foodsubs.com/ThickenStarch...

                Good luck, and Happy Thanksgiving!

                1. re: Caroline1
                  greygarious Oct 20, 2013 11:53 AM

                  Arrowroot can fail, like cornstarch, if heated too high/long.

                  I generally use Wondra flour as a thickener. But I also like Paul Prudhomme's idea to saute aromatics, eggplant, and sweet potato, then puree it and use that mixture in place of a roux. Make extra puree, freeze, and use to make gravies and pan sauces for all sorts of meats.

            2. re: The Librarian
              cayjohan Oct 19, 2013 01:18 PM

              I've had the biggest problem deciding what flours to use, as I don't make gravy much during the rest of the year, and despite deciding to "practice" for this year, I haven't got around to it.

              My gravy secret is all of the previous year's carcass cooked down, down, down until a gelatinous state (stored frozen)then used with the drippings from the turkey, and the broth from the simmered giblets.

              Thanks for the warning on the potato flour - I am still trying to learn alternative flours for these things without changing the flavor everyone wants. I've been most successful with garbanzo flour for the way I cook (lots of vegetable fritters, say), but would probably not be happy with a "bean" flavor in my T-day gravy!

              1. re: cayjohan
                Caitlin McGrath Oct 19, 2013 03:48 PM

                Cay, see if a spin through this thread on gluten-free gravy on the Special Diets board is of help - lots of ideas on flours/starches/alternatives: http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/878382

              2. re: The Librarian
                Suzminaz Feb 12, 2014 02:38 PM

                Sounds yummy! Please post your recipe.

              3. re: cayjohan
                sherrib Oct 19, 2013 11:07 AM

                I haven't made turkey gravy, but since going gluten free, I use potato starch for the gravy I make for my roast beef. I put some potato starch in a small bowl and add a little liquid (wine, water, stock) and mix it together until well blended. I add a little at a time to the gravy until it's thickened to the consistency that I like.

              4. coll Oct 19, 2013 10:22 AM

                I make my gravy at Thanksgiving with cornstarch, just because it's quicker. I freeze the leftovers, and no problem reconstituting.

                1. k
                  kseiverd Oct 19, 2013 01:20 PM

                  In y experience, gravy made with corn starch loses it's thickness?? When I make gravy, usually do a flour/water slurry. Freezes fine, looks a bit funky when first thawed, but comes back nicely with a simmer and whiskiing.

                  1. The Librarian Oct 19, 2013 03:41 PM

                    Thanks for all your responses. As further thanks, I am going to share my ultimate tip for successful gravy-making: I call upon my late father-in-law Rich who was the ultimate gravy maker. He was a really nice guy, so I'm sure he would be happy to be there for anyone who asks. I have to say, though, in real life, he would have regarded making any kind of gravy with anything other than flour as a disturbance in the force!

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