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We boiled the carcass of the turkey and let it set in the refrigerator for about 5 days. When I took it out to prepare the soup it was like gelatin. I know that's OK, however at the bottom there was white stuff. Could that be fat? I always thought fat was on the top!

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The stuff at the top is fat, as oil floats on water (arguably one of the best things ever for a chef :))

The stuff at the bottom, is a collection of proteins, meat juices and all other sediments left in the stock after straining.

Personally I'd scrape any fat from the top. Then depending on the solidity of my stock I'd either ladle out the clear stuff from above the sediment or if set well enough I'd turn the container over so I had a big lump of jelly on my counter and slice the bottom portion off with a warm knife and discard. It'll not taste great if at all and will make your soup, gravy or broth a little grainy.

On a side note, 5 days in the fridge is rather long. Food hygiene wise you'd usually not keep cooked meat products much longer than 3 days though a boiled stock will likely last a little longer. I'm not 100% sure what the actual guidelines are but I live to a 3 day rule on everything cooked in my work kitchen to keep the 'environmental health organization' happy...

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Fat is good. Yes, you may want to separate it and so use the correct amount in whatever recipe where it is called for.

I'm not sure about the white stuff. Anything remotely water soluble should have gelled with the gelatin. If you pick through it, I'm betting you will find that it is gelatin mixed with small particles of meat or stuffing residue.

As a side not to the side note above: Safe keeping times are very dependent on temperature. I try to keep our fridge just above freezing. I find that the keeping time of anything rises dramatically. I have routinely keep ground meat for 2 weeks and not even had it discolour.

Restaurant guides are more stringent for several reasons:

  • When they screw up, lots of people get sick.
  • In a restaurant with people going in and out of the cooler every minute, it's hard to keep the temperature cold enough.
  • Restaurants are much more likely to do things in larger masses. This makes for longer cooling and heating times, which means that the food has spent more time at microbe breeding temperatures.

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