The holidays crept up fast, didn’t they? I’m still coming down from Halloween, for Pete’s sake, and now it’s time to buy a turkey, send out Christmas cards, and stock up on spiked eggnog. Consuming a boatload of turkey is one of the most satisfying aspects of this time of year, but there are some important food safety items to keep in mind while storing and preparing the bird to be cooked.
Here are some essential tips on storing and thawing your Thanksgiving and Christmas turkey, courtesy of One Fat Frog Restaurant Equipment.
• Make sure there is plenty of room in the fridge before purchasing the bird. Since there’s bound to be leftovers, you might want to clear out some old, expired, moldy items out of the fridge as well to make room for the tupperware.
• If you’re wondering whether to purchase a fresh or frozen turkey, keep in mind that fresh turkey has a shorter shelf life. Frozen allows you to buy with plenty of time in advance – allowing you to take advantage of sales as well. There’s no quality difference between fresh and frozen. The only real benefit with fresh is that you don’t have to thaw it.
• How large a turkey should you buy? An easy method is to figure one pound of turkey for each person. Serving five? Try a five pound turkey. Serving eight? Try an eight pound turkey. Serving 20? Good luck.
• Another good reason to purchase your bird far in advance is that it’s going to need plenty of time to thaw. A turkey takes about 24 hours per four to five pounds to thaw in the fridge. And always thaw a turkey either in the fridge or in cold water. The fridge is the safest. NEVER allow a bird to thaw on the counter. If you thaw it in cold water, completely submerge the turkey in its original package. Change the water every 30 minutes. It commonly takes 30 minutes per pound to thaw. Once thawed, cook that bad boy immediately.
• ALWAYS wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling uncooked turkey.
• Remove the neck and giblets after it’s thawed. If you’re hanging on to the bird’s gullyworks for whatever reason, keep them refrigerated.
Sometimes people prepare their whole feast the same day, so it can’t be stressed enough to wash your hands when handling a raw turkey and other foods together. The post-feast goal is for everyone to fall asleep watching television, not have to go to the ER with crippling stomach bacteria having a party in your guts.
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