With Thanksgiving Coming up, make sure to follow the suggestions below to have a safe and enjoyable holiday.
When buying a turkey, it’s important to differentiate between a fresh turkey and a frozen turkey. If you plan on serving a fresh turkey, make sure you purchase it no more than two days before Thanksgiving. It’s a good idea to purchase two thermometers. One to check the cooler temperature to make sure that you are storing your turkey at 40 °F or a little below, and a second thermometer to make sure that the turkey is cooked to the safe range of 165 °F.
If you need to thaw a frozen turkey, there are three methods to thaw a turkey: microwave, cold water, or refrigerator. For the microwave method, use the microwave on the defrost setting based on the weight of your turkey. For the cold water method, submerge the turkey in cold water and change the cold water every 30 minutes. For thawing in the refrigerator, place the frozen turkey in the refrigerator and allow it to thaw 24 hours, for every 4-5 pounds of turkey.
When cooking the turkey, wash your hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food to prevent the spread of bacteria and illness. Do NOT wash the turkey. Washing the turkey will only help spread bacteria onto kitchen surfaces. The only real way to kill bacteria that causes foodborne illness is to fully cook the turkey. In order to avoid cross contamination, make sure to keep raw turkey separated from all other foods and use separate utensils, cutting boards, and plates when handling raw turkey. The turkey should be cooked until it reaches a temperature of 165 °F. Take the temperature of the turkey at 3 different spots: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing. When you take the turkey out of the oven, allow it to sit for 20 minutes before carving, to allow the juices to settle.
With regards to leftovers, make sure to refrigerate leftovers within two hours, to prevent any bacteria from growing on the food. If you store leftovers in shallow pans or containers, it will help reduce cooling time, which also prevents the food from staying in the “unsafe” temperature range (40 °F to 140 °F) for too long. Remove all stuffing from the turkey and refrigerate separately from the meat. Never leave the stuffing inside the turkey. Don’t consume any leftovers that have been in the refrigerator for more than 3-4 days. If you want to keep leftovers for a longer period of time, store in the freezer.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving!
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