Homemade gravy results from a labor of love, after hours of waiting for the roasted meat or poultry to finish cooking. You strain the drippings and simmer them slowly with stock, flour, and other seasonings to craft a velvety sauce some diners can't do without, especially at Thanksgiving. For many, homemade gravy occurs only during the holidays, so it's a bit like treasure—worth stashing for another day.
Short-Term Gravy Storage
Unfortunately, gravy begins to separate if you hold it for too long. To preserve the quality, refrigerate any leftover gravy promptly and use it within two days. After that time, you can boil any remaining gravy for three minutes to kill any bacteria, and then store it for another two days. You can follow this two-day process for up to a week, but you might find it easier to freeze the gravy in manageable portions.
Long-Term Freezer Storage
If you plan to freeze some of the gravy before you make it, try to use as little fat, milk, or cream as possible when you prepare it, as those ingredients tend to separate during the thawing process. You can also significantly reduce the chance of separation if you run the gravy quickly through a blender or food processor before you package it for freezer storage.
Spoon the gravy into freezer bags, airtight containers, or ice cube trays (for use in smaller amounts in the future) before you freeze it. Flour-thickened gravy can remain frozen in an airtight container for up to four months without a noticeable loss in quality. Thaw frozen gravy in the refrigerator overnight, then reheat it slowly in a saucepan over medium-low heat, whisking constantly to prevent lumps. Add a bit of water or stock if it seems too thick, or if the gravy separated. You may be able to pull it back together with a little extra liquid and some vigorous whisking. If you happen to have leftover roast or turkey that you would also like to freeze, package it in combination with the gravy for the best results. Cooked meats store and freeze better in their own gravy as it keeps the meat from drying out. Reheat meat-and-gravy combination dishes in a 350 F oven until it registers a temperature of 160 F in several places. Use frozen meat-and-gravy combinations within three months.
Ways to Use up Leftover Gravy
You can completely avoid the bummer of discovering that your homemade gravy separated in the freezer by using up any leftovers in the same week. There are many other delicious ways to serve gravy other than with turkey and mashed potatoes. You could improvise and serve gravy and meatballs over elbow pasta or egg noodles instead of the standard tomato-based spaghetti and meatballs. Or make Salisbury steak by simmering caramelized onions and sliced steak in a generous dollop of gravy. You can take advantage of gravy's thickening power and immense flavor by adding it to a soup, casserole, or stew. Try something new at breakfast and serve eggs with biscuits and gravy.