For millions of Americans, next week means a very large turkey dinner is coming up. Some families are expert turkey chefs, while others are trying to cook a turkey for the first time or aren’t used to preparing poultry. Here are some great tips to reduce the chance of getting sick to due bacteria when you prepare Thanksgiving dinner this year:
- When you shop for a turkey, a package that has an abundance of ice crystals suggests that the turkey had already been thawed or has begun to thaw at some point prior to being on display for purchase. Try to choose another turkey instead.
- When shopping and selecting a turkey, make sure the packaging is intact—no rips or damaged areas, no obvious dirt/mud/unknown gunk, etc.
- Thaw the turkey in the refrigerator or in cold water. Never thaw the turkey on the counter or at room temperature—this allows bacteria to grow on the outside of the turkey while the inside is still thawing.
- If you are brining the turkey or using cold water to thaw, replace the water every 30 minutes or so.
- If you thaw in the refrigerator, thaw one day for every five pounds of turkey (4 days for a 20-pound turkey). Thaw in a container that allows it to collect any juices that may drip from the turkey during the thawing process).
- Remove the giblets and neck.
- Wash your hands before and after every time you handle the turkey. Also, wash any counters and/or the sink that could have come in contact with the raw meat.
- Do not cook the turkey at less than 325 degrees F.
- When you’re finished, the deepest, meatiest part of the turkey should be recording a temperature of 165 degrees F.
Leftovers should be put away as soon as possible, as bacteria can start to develop within an hour after being served. Try to remove the meat from the bone before storing. Throw away leftovers after 3-4 days.
Follow these tips and you’ll certainly reduce your chance of you and your loved ones contracting food poisoning this holiday season.
The Pleasant Hills Apothecary Team