Thanksgiving is a wonderful time of year, and it’s even more fun when everyone is safe. Raw turkey, cooking appliances, and busy kitchens can sometimes lead to unfortunate Thanksgiving mishaps. Here are some Thanksgiving safety tips to ensure a safe and delicious holiday.
To make sure the food you serve at Thanksgiving is safe for your family, a little bit of preparation and forethought is required. Fresh (or unfrozen) turkey should not be in your fridge for more than two days, so don’t buy too early.
If your turkey is frozen, you will need to plan ahead so it can thaw correctly. It is extremely important that meat is thawed safely; otherwise bacteria can grow in the meat which you will then ingest. DO NOT thaw a turkey at room temperature, as this is the ideal temperature for bacteria to grow.
The best way to thaw frozen meat is in the fridge, or at a temperature of 40°F. It will take about 1 day for every 5 pounds to thaw a turkey in the fridge, (e.g. a 15 pound turkey will take 3 days to thaw) so plan accordingly. You also don’t want to move it into the fridge too early, as you don’t want it to sit unthawed for more than a day.
Cold Water Thawing
Oops, did you forget to plan ahead and find yourself with a frozen turkey the day before Thanksgiving? There is a quicker thawing method, but it takes a bit more work. You can thaw a turkey by immersing it in ice cold water, replacing the water every 30 minutes to keep it ice cold. If the water gets too warm, bacteria can start to develop on the outside of the meat. This method will take about 30 minutes per pound, so a 15 pound turkey will take 7-8 hours to thaw.
Cook From Frozen
Is it Thanksgiving day and your turkey is frozen? Well, go ahead and pop it in the oven. You can cook a turkey from frozen, but it will take considerably longer. A 15 pound frozen turkey cooked at 325°F will take about 6 hours to cook, which is about 2-3 hours longer than it would take if it were thawed out.
Before cooking your turkey, you must first pull out the giblets, usually found in a bag inside the turkey. Then rinse the turkey inside and out. Then stuff the turkey if you cook it with the stuffing in, although some cook the turkey and add on the stuffing on the side.
Follow this chart for cooking times based on the weight of your bird:
These times are just guidelines. The safest way to make sure your bird is cooked is with a meat thermometer; the internal temperature should be 165°F.
Turkey Fryer Safety
Another option for cooking turkey is to fry it. This option is best for smaller turkeys; in fact you do not want to fry a turkey any larger than 14 pounds. Any larger and the skin will burn before the inside can cook. If you will have a lot of people to feed, fry two smaller turkeys.
Set up an area outside to do the frying. It should be a level and as open an area as possible. It will be useful to have a small table nearby for your supplies and seasonings (by leslie). Place something non-flammable such as a plywood board under the burner to catch any oil that may splatter.
In addition to preparing the turkey safely, there are some preparations that should be made to ensure a busy kitchen is also a safe kitchen on Thanksgiving.
- Make sure all smoke detectors have working batteries.
- Keep children away from hot surfaces and fryers
- Clean any area that raw turkey may have touched, as well as any dishes, utensils, and your hands, with antibacterial cleaner.
- Have a fire extinguisher on hand, especially if frying a turkey
This infographic will help you remember the most important safety tips covered in this article. Have a very happy and safe Thanksgiving!