Holiday Food Safety Success
Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to reflect on our blessings and perhaps, just for a moment, forget about all the turmoil that is taking place around the world. Many families will be gathered around a table for the traditional Thanksgiving meal. In order to keep your friends and family healthy, there are some tips that need to be followed.
1) Be prepared! Before purchasing your turkey, make ample space in your refrigerator, moving shelves if necessary. There is no quality difference between a fresh or frozen turkey although fresh turkeys have shorter shelf lives. By purchasing a frozen turkey, you can get the turkey in advance and take advantage of special sales. Fresh turkeys provide convenience because they do not require thawing. Allow one pound per person.
2) When to Buy: Keep in mind that a whole turkey takes about 24 hours per four to five pounds to thaw in the refrigerator. (For example: A 15-pound frozen bird will take 3 to 4 full days to thaw in the refrigerator.) Ideally, purchase your frozen turkey as far in advance as necessary to safely thaw it in the refrigerator. If buying a fresh turkey, purchase it only 1 to 2 days before the meal and keep it refrigerated.
3) Thaw Properly! There are three ways to thaw your turkey safely — in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave oven. In the Refrigerator (40 °F or below), allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds: 4 to 12 pounds – 1 to 3 days; 12 to 16 pounds – 3 to 4 days; 16 to 20 pounds – 4 to 5 days; 20 to 24 pounds – 5 to 6 days. Be sure to keep it in its original wrapper and place a pan under it to catch any juices that may drip. Thawing the turkey in the refrigerator is the safest method and will result in the best quality. You may keep the turkey safely in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days after thawing with this method.
If you choose to thaw in cold water, allow 30 minutes per pound. Change the water every 30 minutes making sure the water is not able to seep through the wrapper. Cook the turkey immediately after thawing with this method.
If you choose the microwave method, follow your oven’s manual for recommended thawing times and cooking power. Remove all wrappings and place on a microwave safe dish. Cook the turkey immediately after thawing. Remove the giblets and cook separately after thawing.
4) Cook to a safe temperature! The single most important thing to know, no matter the cooking method, is that the turkey must be cooked to the proper internal temperature as measured with a food thermometer. Insert a meat thermometer into the thickest part of the thigh, not touching bone. Cook to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F as measured with a food thermometer. Check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast.
5) Safe Serving: It’s best to let the turkey rest for 20 minutes before carving to allow the juices to set, so the turkey will carve more easily. Use a clean cutting board that has a well to catch juices. (For maximum safety, stuffing should be cooked separately.) Do not leave any extra turkey, stuffing or other leftovers out for more than two hours.
6) Store Leftovers Safely! Within two hours, store leftover turkey in shallow containers and put in the refrigerator or the freezer. Use cooked leftover turkey, stuffing and gravy within 3-4 days. Cooked turkey keeps for 3-4 months in the freezer. When using leftovers, reheat the foods thoroughly to 165 °F or until hot and steaming; bring gravy to a boil before serving.
For more information about Thanksgiving food safety, go to http://www.fightbac.org/winter/thanksgiving/talking-turkey/.
Hopkins County 4-H News
Several opportunities await Hopkins County 4-H members in December! For those who are in high school, a District-wide 4-H Opportunities Scholarship workshop will take place in our own neighborhood! The workshop is scheduled Monday, December 7, at the Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Office in Sulphur Springs. Two sessions are being offered, so choose the one that best suits your schedule: 10:00 a.m., repeated at 6:00 p.m. There is no cost, but interested 4-H members should call 903-885-3443 or sign up on your 4-H Connect account.
On Tuesday, December 8, all Hopkins County 4-H members, leaders, parents, and guests are invited to the County-wide 4-H Christmas party. We will meet at 6:00 p.m. at the League Street Church of Christ, and then carpool to Sunny springs Nursing Home to deliver snow flake door ornaments and sing Christmas carols with the residents. Then, we’ll travel back to the church for food, games, photo booth and crafts. Bring your camera or phone to take pictures! Because our office is providing the refreshments, we are asking those who plan to attend to contact our office at 903-885-3443. Our County 4-H Council officers have planned a fun evening!
The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children.