How to preserve the Yule food

Yule food pinnekjøttPinnekjøtt is gaining on pork rib as the favourite on Christmas Eve in Norway. Photo:

How to preserve the leftover Yule food

In order to get the traditional Yule food to last after Christmas Eve, think about how you store it.


Whether you’re devouring a plate of «pinnekjøtt» (lamb/mutton rib), cod or pork rib on Christmas Eve, there are some small steps you can take to make the leftover food last well into the next year.

When the guests have gone home and the lights are switched off, Christmas food keeps just under one week. But that requires that you keep your food properly cooled in the meantime.

– The Christmas food can only last at room temperature for about four to five hours, says food adviser in, Bjørn Tore Teige.

The food should, therefore, be put in the refrigerator immediately after the last serving, preferably at a temperature of about four degrees centigrade (32oF) or lower.

– The food keeps in the refrigerator for about five days. You should, therefore, finish it before New Year’s Eve, says Teigen.

Hang outside

Teigen is also concerned that the food should not be placed in the refrigerator while it is still warm.

– Hold your hand over the food and feel that it is at room temperature before putting it in the fridge.

The reason is that heated food will heat up and destroy the other products in the refrigerator.

Teigen also has another tip for those who have full refrigerators at Christmas. He encourages storing the drinks on a terrace or porch. Those who live in a block of flats can hang the drinks out of the window in a bag or in a shopping net, he believes.

– It is not a nice decoration, but you free up space for all the good food, he laughs.

Freeze it

If it is tempting to save a piece of rib for a few weeks, the food adviser offers advice on what to do.

– If you already know you are not going to eat the leftovers in the coming days, freeze the food as soon as possible. Then the food lasts longer when you hunger for it again, he says.

The food keeps for up to three months after it is frozen unless it has not been frozen before.

– There is no reason to keep the food longer than that. Bags containing snow or ice crystals take taste away from the product.

Bacteria thrive best in temperatures between 20 and 40 degrees centigrade but do not survive if the food is heated up to 70 degrees. The leftover food should, therefore, be heated up properly before serving, is the advice from the Norwegian Food Safety Authority.

Facts about leftovers

  • Yule food keeps in the refrigerator for about five days
  • Withstands only up to five hours at room temperature
  • Should be placed in the refrigerator immediately after the last serving
  • The food should reach room temperature before being placed in the refrigerator to avoid heating the other products therein
  • Put your drinks on the patio, porch or similar, to save space in the refrigerator
  • If you are going away in the Yuletide and on New Year’s Eve, you should freeze the leftover food to make it keep longer
  • The food keeps up to three months after it is frozen for the first time.
  • Bacteria thrive the best in temperatures between 20-40 degrees, but cannot withstand temperatures above 70 degrees centigrade. Heat up the leftover food properly before serving.

Pinnekjøtt (Serves 5)

  • 2 kgs lamb rib (smoked), more if you have invited the North Korean Army.
  • 1 pcs smoked sausage (500g)

Mashed vegetables

  • 14 kgs neeps (aka rutabaga, swedes)
  • 2pcs carrot
  • 1pcs potato
  • 1dl double cream (or lighter variety)
  • 3tbs butter (normal salted)
  • 2tsp salt
  • 12tsp black pepper


  1. Water down the “pinnekjøtt” in plenty of water for approx. 30 hours, leave it at room temperature.

When the “pinnekjøtt” is watered down, it regains its natural liquid balance and reduces the amount of salt. The dilution time varies slightly by how much the meat is dried, the thickness of the pieces of meat and the temperature of the water. Tepid water provides faster dilution. In the grocery store, you can also buy pre-diluted rib. If you do that, calculate with approx. 600 grams per person.

  1. Place a metal grate or birch sticks without bark at the bottom of a wide cooking pan. Fill with water so it is level with the grate. place the “pinnekjøtt” on top and put the lid on. Bring to the boil, lower the heat and allow the meat to simmer (slow boil) at 85-95 degrees for approx. 3 hours or until the meat comes off the bone. Make sure it does not dry-boil, add more water as necessary. Pieces of sausage can be steamed together with the meat for the last 15 minutes.
  2. Peel the vegetables. Divide into largish pieces and boil them tender in lightly salted water. Pour the water off and mash the vegetables.
  3. Add butter and cream. Season with salt and pepper, and possibly a little bit of grated nutmeg and ginger.
  4. Delicious freshly steamed “pinnekjøtt”, smoked sausage and mash ready for consumption. Serve with boiled almond potatoes and the broth from the meat.


The “pinnekjøtt” can be roasted lightly in the oven if so desired. Place the meat on the grate over a pan. Put it high in the oven on strong heat or under the grill for approx. 5 minutes. Pay attention.

Emergency measure

A classic mistake in the Yule stress is to forget about watering down the “pinnekjøtt”. If you do not have the opportunity to change plans and serve the meat one day later, there is a crisis solution. Put the ribs in a saucepan and fill it up with cold water. Slowly heat up to the boiling point and allow to cool until the meat is released from the bone. This is not the ideal way to do it. With this solution, it is advisable to prepare with extra beverages, as it will taste a little saltier than usual.


© NTB scanpix / Matprat / #Norway Today