Holidays are supposed to be about family, traditions and fun, but it’s important to think about safety at the holidays as well. My suggestion is to think about it a couple days before so you can relax on the big day! Here are a few things to think about the week before Thanksgiving.
Regarding the Turkey
1. Before buying your turkey, make room in your refrigerator. Find a plate or platter large enough to hold the uncooked turkey so that leaking juices won’t contaminate other foods in the refrigerator.
2. At the grocery store, choose the turkey last. Put it in a separate plastic bag to avoid contaminating other groceries. Refrigerate the turkey immediately when you get home.
3. It’s important to thaw a frozen turkey gradually. The safest way to defrost a frozen turkey is in the refrigerator. Remember, you need to allow 24 hours of defrosting for every five pounds of turkey.
4. Turkeys wrapped in leak proof plastic can be defrosted in cold water, but the water should be changed every 30 minutes. Allow for 30 minutes of defrosting for every pound of turkey.
5. Be sure to use hot soapy water to clean anything that touches the turkey or juice. Sanitize sponges by running them through your dishwasher.
6. When cooking a turkey, use a meat thermometer and cook the turkey to 180 degrees Fahrenheit in the inner thigh.
Regarding the Stuffing
1. For many people, stuffing is the best part of the Thanksgiving meal, but it must be carefully prepared to avoid bacteria.
2. The safest way to cook stuffing is on the stove or in the oven, but separate from the turkey.
3. If cooking the stuffing inside the turkey, loosely stuff the turkey just before you put it in the oven or roaster. Use one cup of stuffing per pound of turkey. Use a meat thermometer to make sure the center of the stuffing reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Regarding the Leftovers
1. Be sure to refrigerate or freeze leftovers within two hours of cooking the food. Separate leftovers into shallow containers.
2. Turkey should be removed from the bone and stored separately from the stuffing and gravy.
3. Use leftovers within four days, except stuffing and gravy which should be used within two days. If it seems unlikely that the leftovers can be used in that time, it is best to freeze them for later.
4. To reheat leftovers, heat the food to 165 degrees Fahrenheit and boil any soups, sauces, and gravies.
Regarding the Wishbone
1. Keep the wishbone in a safe place to dry, away from curious animals and brothers or husbands who want to sabotage your chances of winning the wish!