What would Thanksgiving be without turkey?
Last year, Americans carved more than 46 million turkeys at their Thanksgiving meals. There are steps you need to take, however, to make sure the star of the show is both safe and delicious to eat.
Thawing your turkey
Here's advice from the Alabama Cooperative Extension System on how to safely thaw your bird:
- Buy fresh turkeys no earlier than one or two days before Thanksgiving.
- Keep it on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator on a tray to catch any meat juices.
- For a frozen bird, allow 24 hours for every 5 pounds to thaw.
- It can take longer for it to thaw in the refrigerator if the refrigerator is full and the temperature is below 40 degrees.
- Do not let it sit on the counter at room temperature.
- Another option is to place the packaged turkey in a container of cold water, but you must change the water out every 30 minutes.
- Always use cold water because this prevents dangerous bacteria from growing.
Other safety tips:
- Dangerous bacteria can grow if the turkey is not thawed properly.
- Setting the oven at a temperature lower than 325 degrees and letting a frozen or partially thawed bird cook longer will put it in the temperature "danger zone" of 41 and 135 degrees
- Thaw the turkey completely before you begin to cook it.
- The internal temperature of the bird must reach 165 degrees to make sure all the bacteria is killed.
- Always check the internal temperature with a calibrated thermometer. Do not rely on the "pop-up" thermometer.
- Wash hands with soap and warm water for 20 seconds before and after handling food.
- Use hot, soapy water and paper towels or clean cloths to wipe up kitchen surfaces or spills. Wash cloths often in the hot cycle of your washing machine.
- Wash cutting boards, dishes, and counter tops with hot, soapy water after preparing each food item and before you go on to the next item.
- Use a solution of 1 tablespoon of unscented, liquid chlorine bleach per gallon of water to sanitize surfaces and utensils.
- Keep cold foods at a temperature of 41 degrees or lower to prevent bacterial growth.
- Maintain hot foods at a temperature of 135 degrees or higher to keep bacteria from growing.
How do you cook a turkey?
Whether you want to bake, grill or fry your turkey, there are plenty of resources to ensure your turkey is ready for Thanksgiving.
Butterball Turkey Talk-Line, 1-800-288-8372: Home economists and nutritionists answer questions and offer assistance on turkey cooking. Call weekdays from 7 a.m.- 7 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 14 and Nov 19-20 Central Standard Time (CST) Online: www.butterball.com.
HoneySuckle White, 1-800-433-2244: Automated assistance to questions about turkey. Nov. 20 through Dec. 31. Online help at www.honeysucklewhite.com.
Reynolds KitchenTips Line, Online help at www.reynoldskitchens.com.
Crisco Pie and Baking Hotline: 1-877-367-7438; Help with baked good and pies. The hotline is open weekdays. Closed on Thanksgiving. Online chats are available weekdays Nov. 16-25 at www.crisco.com
Sara Lee Pie Hotline: 1-888-914-1247; Offers pie tips on weekdays 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. Central time, including Thanksgiving until 1 p.m. You can tweet your questions to @saraleedesserts using the hashtag #PerfectPie during hotline hours.
Land O'Lakes Holiday Online Bakeline Home economists answer questions online at: www.landolakes.com.
Rhodes Frozen Dough Bake Line, 1-800-876-7333: Questions on working with any type of frozen dough are answered. Call 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. CST weekdays. Online: www.rhodesbread.com.
Shady Brook Farms Dial-A-Chef Holiday Hotline, 1-800-810-6325: Prerecorded tips for holiday feasts and entertaining from selected chefs across the country as well as wine pairings. Call anytime.
USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline, 1-888-674-6854: Provides information on food safety concerns. Hotline is open Monday through Friday and on Thanksgiving Day.
How to fry a turkey
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has all the information you need here....Read more