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Can you freeze gravy?

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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.

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  1. 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

      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

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

        1. re: coll

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

          1. re: cayjohan

            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

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

              1. re: magiesmom

                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

                  Well, that is my experience, not legend.

                  1. re: magiesmom

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

              2. re: coll

                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.

                Thanks.

                1. re: cayjohan

                  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

                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

                  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

              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

                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

                Sounds yummy! Please post your recipe.

              3. re: cayjohan

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

                1. 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. 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!