Thanksgiving Leftovers

This article by Christine Gelley was originally published by The Noble Journal Leader on November 26, 2018.

I hope that the best leftovers in your house this week are fond memories of time spent with people you treasure.

There are likely to be a variety of other things left over as well. Do not let leftovers go to waste. There are many ways to use the food and décor left over from the harvest season in alternative ways.

When it comes to preserving and using the leftovers from your Thanksgiving meals, consult OSU Extension FCS/4-H Educator Sami Schott at the Noble County Office about how to store and prepare leftovers safely. You can also visit to explore a variety of fact sheets on the topic.

Before you scrape leftover food into the trash can consider whether it could be composted. Fruits, vegetables, and breads are good additions to the compost pile. However, do not add meats, bones, gravies, or dairy products to compost. These are more difficult to break down and often attract scavengers to the compost bin.

Some farm animals would love to share leftovers with you too. Hogs and poultry are resourceful critters and would be happy to receive table scraps and leftover pumpkins. Again, avoid feeding bones and meats, because they could attract predators to the leftovers and the livestock.

If you are feeding commercial livestock table waste, be sure to check that it is compliant with federal and state laws. Also, be sure to double check for plastic wrap or aluminum foil particles before putting the scraps out as feed.

While it may be tempting to share leftovers with your pets, be very careful about what you share.

Poultry bones can be deadly if ingested by canines or felines. The fat and skin from turkey or ham can cause digestive difficulties. Avoid onions. Small amounts are ok, but too much could lead to anemia. Chocolate and desserts with high sugar or artificial sweeteners are definitely off limits. Green beans, cranberries, plain mashed potatoes, squash or sweet potatoes could all be delightful for dogs in small portions. Consult your veterinarian if you have specific concerns about sharing leftovers with your pets.

Other autumn décor like decorative squash, corn stalks, dried grasses, and raked leaves can all be added to the compost bin as well. If you crack open squash, birds and small mammals can enjoy the flesh and seeds in your garden bed. In turn, you may wind up with some unique homegrown décor the following year if you let the seeds sprout in the spring.

Before we move on to celebrating winter holidays, let’s remain thankful for the harvest season by respectfully utilizing the leftovers.




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