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Christmas sorted: All the festive food you can prepare right now – Stuff

Hosting Christmas Day can mean last-minute visits to overcrowded, under-stocked supermarkets and a big single financial outlay – but it doesn’t have to.
Our experts have plenty of tips for buying and preparing food starting right now to help you stay organised, calm and on-budget.
While Stuff columnist Nicola Galloway says now is the perfect time to start preparing Christmas cake fruit mixes and filling for any Christmas mince pies, she says many things high in sugar or salt can also be made a few weeks in advance.
Make your meringues a few weeks out from the big day and keep them in an airtight container, Galloway says. Kept cool and dry, they last very well.
About a month out is also an ideal time to prepare items like spiced Christmas cookies, which Galloway says are meant to be quite dry and crispy, and would keep well for about three to four weeks.
Food blogger Vanya Insull, who goes by the Instagram handle VJ_Cooks, says if you plan to make brandy snaps from scratch, these can be prepared now and kept in the pantry in an airtight container.
While competition for freezer space can get fierce in the build-up to Christmas, if you have capacity it can bea great opportunity to prepare deserts and side-dish components now, says Insull.
“Cheesecakes freeze really well if you wrap them well in cling film. A chilled cheesecake (like Insull’s ginger kisses cheesecake) could be made now and frozen, and it would be ready for Christmas,” she says.
Also easily freezable, says Galloway, are trifle components such as sponge cake or brownies and berry sauce for one of Insull’s favourite trifle recipes.
She also suggests preparing and freezing truffles, biscuit balls and getting a head start on making Christmas ice-cream (it is vanilla ice-cream, with a spiced fruit mix).
An easy time-saver for the day can be to prepare fresh stuffing dishes, which then simply need to be thawed and cooked, says Insull.
Just ensure you make the mix using fresh ingredients, so you are not refreezing anything.
“You’d probably save yourself about 20 minutes. But it’s also less shopping later on as well. You’re spreading out the costs, so you’re not buying all the premium ingredients at the same time.”
Galloway also recommends shopping around now for deals on turkey or ham and freezing these, as the prices can increase closer to Christmas day.
Edible gifts are, by design, items with long shelf-lives, says Galloway. So to save yourself a rush, now can be a perfect time to get a head start.
She suggests items like raspberry vinegar or preserves can be made both for your own festive meal and to gift around the season.
“You could use frozen berries and make jams to preserve in jars for gifting or for Christmas,” she says.
“Properly preserved, they’re going to keep for months.”
Anything that is salted and roasted, like spiced nuts will also keep for months, and can make great gifts or table snacks on the day, says Galloway.
“Things like [chocolate bark] and edible gifts are made to last. You want to make them ahead of time, so you’re not rushed around Christmas.”
Looking to get a bit fancy with your Christmas day drinks? Galloway recommends South Islanders utilise the in-season elderflower to make elderflower champagne.
Other interesting Christmas drink ideas that can be made now are infused gins or vodka, using berries or other fruit flavours.
For the teetotallers, one of Galloway’s favourites is a “shrub”. It is a concentrate made from raspberry, rhubarb and sugar, macerated into a syrup and mixed with apple cider vinegar.
Not only does it taste great, it keeps really well, she says.
© 2022 Stuff Limited

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