Thanksgiving is just days away and if you’re the lucky one preparing the turkey this year there are some cooking safety tips to keep in mind.
Passavant dietitian Karen Sibert says to keep the bird in the freezer until it’s ready to be thawed. Then, make sure you thaw the turkey long enough.
“It needs to really thaw in the refrigerator,” says Sibert. “That’s the best way to do it. It needs to refrigerate for a day for every four to five pounds.”
If you don’t have that much time, you can thaw the turkey in cold water. Don’t forget to change the water frequently.
“Make sure you put the cold water in the cavity of the turkey because that’s a lot of times where even when I’ve thawed it the right way I can still have a block of ice stuck in that spot,” says Sibert.
If you choose fresh turkey, buy it no more than two days ahead, and be sure you have room in the refrigerator.
It’s important to make sure the place you’re preparing the turkey is clean. And make sure to sanitize that sink or countertop again after preparing the turkey.
Bacteria present on raw poultry can contaminate your hands, utensils, and work surfaces as you prepare the turkey.
Sibert says stuffing should be cooked outside the turkey in a casserole dish. However, if you place stuffing inside the turkey, do so just before cooking, and use a food thermometer. Make sure the center of the stuffing reaches a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.
When you cook the bird, set the oven at 325 degrees and make sure the turkey is completely thawed. Check the internal temperature at the center of the stuffing and meaty portion of the breast, thigh, and wing joint using a food thermometer. The food thermometer must reach a safe minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees.
If you’re going to fry the turkey, make sure it is completely thawed out before cooking it.
Sibert says make sure food doesn’t sit out too long after you’ve finished eating.
“Within two hours it needs to be refrigerated,” says Sibert. “Because the bacteria can multiply in huge amounts every couple of minutes.”
You can find more safety tips here.