Thawing a turkey takes hours, but it's only part of the process to prepare your Thanksgiving feast.
YUMA, Ariz. (KECY/KYMA) - From the turkey, to the stuffing, to the mashed potatoes, many Americans are opting out of their usual holiday plans during the pandemic. This may be the first time they're cooking the big meal, the first step is to properly thaw your frozen bird and give yourself plenty of time.
According to the USDA, thawing a turkey takes quite some time and if you do not do it correctly, you might be putting your life and the lives of others at risk.
"It's going to take some time to thaw this," said Dr. Mindy Brashears USDA Undersecretary For Food Safety. " So you need to thaw in the refrigerator, this is our best method, it takes about 24 hours for every four or five pounds of that turkey."
But thawing the turkey is just one part of the process, ensuring that the bird has cooked through is as important. A food thermometer can help you when it comes to ensuring food is cooked at the right temperature.
"That food thermometer needs to be put into the thickest part of the breast, and then the innermost part of the thigh and wing," said Dr. Brashears. "We want to get that turkey to 165 degrees Fahrenheit, if you could get to that temperature, the turkey is juicy, you've killed the bacteria."
It's very important to prevent cross contamination in the kitchen.
Other safety measures you need to keep in mind to prevent food-borne illness: wash and sanitize surfaces, cutting boards, utensils, and hands.
"Wash your hands before and during food preparation if you're handling something raw or something that could be contaminated and wash your hands afterward," said Dr. Brashears. "95 to 99% of our consumers in observational studies don't wash our hands at all, or they don't properly wash our hands."
Once the big meal is done, get the leftovers into the refrigerator within two hours.
Break them into smaller containers so they chill quickly. And toss everything after four days.