Safe Thanksgiving Dinners Require Planning
Turkeys need to be treated with special care or they can ruin your Thanksgiving holiday by making you very sick with foodborne illness. To avoid that unpleasantness, the Douglas County Health Department is providing a few basic rules to follow in preparing your holiday meal.
Â· Wash your hands before and after handling food.
Â· Always wash utensils, kitchen sinks, and anything else that comes in contact with raw turkey and meat juices with soap and water. Washing the turkey before cooking only spreads bacteria around the kitchen.
Â· Decide in advance if you want a fresh or frozen turkey and how big a bird you need.
Â· If you buy a frozen turkey, make sure you have the freezer space to store it.
Â· Buy fresh turkeys only 1-2 days before cooking.
Â· To thaw a frozen turkey, place the bird in the original wrapper in the refrigerator, at or below 40 degrees F, in a container to hold dripping blood and juices.
Â· Allow about 24 hours of thawing time for each 4 to 5 pounds of turkey. Thawed turkeys can be kept in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.
Â· There are some things you can do if you forget to thaw your turkey. Submerge the turkey in cold water and change that water every 30 minutes, allowing about 30 minutes defrosting time per pound of turkey. Then cook it immediately.
Â· It is safe to cook a turkey from the frozen state. The cooking time will take at least 50 percent longer than recommended for a fully thawed turkey. Remember to remove the giblet packages during the cooking time.
Roast the turkey at 325 degrees F until it is cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees F in all parts (including stuffing) as measured with a food thermometer. Even turkeys with pop-out thermometers should be tested under the wings and thighs to make sure they are thoroughly cooked. It also is important to remove all the stuffing from the bird for storing leftovers.
See for USDA suggested cooking times based upon bird weight.
Remember, your turkey will slice more easily if you let it stand for 20 minutes and the juices are allowed to settle. It also is important that you refrigerate leftovers within the first couple of hours after your dinner.
Happy Thanksgiving from the Douglas County Health Department!