The holidays are fast approaching! Do you have a favorite family recipe? Now is a good time to think about the steps we can take to keep our food safe. Do you know the correct way to defrost a turkey? Or how long you can safely leave hot food out on the table? Or what the proper way is to check if a roast is done cooking?
If not, don’t worry! Here are some steps you can take to keep your food safe.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outline a four-step process to keep food safe, from store to kitchen to table. These steps are clean, separate, cook, and chill. Click https://tinyurl.com/n6u5hmc8 to visit the full page.
n Step 1: Clean. Wash hands and surfaces. Scrub hands with soap for 20 seconds. Sanitize surfaces such as countertops or cutting boards. Use clean utensils. If you’re cooking with fresh produce, be sure rinse these items before consumption.
n Step 2: Separate. Don’t cross-contaminate. Keep ready-to-eat foods like produce away from foods that must be cooked, like raw meat or eggs. Some foods may have come in contact with germs or bacteria that could make you sick unless cooked thoroughly. Keep them separate in your grocery cart, your car, and your fridge. Prepare them on separate surfaces with separate utensils, or wash surfaces and utensils with soap between prepping food items.
n Step 3: Cook. Always cook food to the correct internal temperature, to be sure you’ve killed any harmful bacteria or viruses. Color or texture are not accurate ways to test doneness – to do so correctly, you’ll need a food thermometer. Thermometers may be digital or analog. You’ll also need a reference for safe temperatures. Different meats and dishes require different temperatures.
n Step 4: Chill. Keep your food cold until it is ready to serve. Refrigerators should be kept between 32- 40 degrees F. When food sits between 40-140 F, bacteria multiply quickly. This is called the danger zone. Food will warm up quickly when outside the fridge! To avoid this risk, take it out just before consumption and store it quickly after the meal is done.
Let’s think about some common questions that may come up as you’re cooking.
How do I defrost a turkey safely?
When defrosting large items such as a turkey, the safest method is to place them in the fridge before cooking. It takes about 24 hours for a four to five pound bird to thaw, so a 10-pound turkey would require two days. If you need to defrost something quickly, you can place it in a pan of cool water on your counter. Change the water every thirty minutes to keep it cool. Don’t use hot water because this can result in the temperature reaching the danger zone. Don’t use hot water, because this can result in the temperature reaching the danger zone. Placing thawing meats and poultry under running water should be avoided too. This can cause water to splatter onto nearby surfaces, potentially spreading germs.
How long can hot food sit out?
Once cooked, hot foods that are not going to be eaten immediately should be cooled and put in the fridge right away. When cooking foods such as meats or casseroles, always use a food thermometer to ensure they are cooked to a safe internal temperature. Poultry, casseroles, and leftovers should be heated to 165 degrees F. See the table below for more information on safe cooking temperatures!
How can I use leftovers safely?
Most foods can be used for 3-5 days, if they have been stored at the correct temperatures. When using leftovers, the foods should be heated to 165F. Even though they’ve already been cooked and you’ve stored them correctly, bacteria can still grow in the fridge. By reheating them, you kill any germs that have grown since the food was first prepared.
By following these general rules, you can be sure to serve delicious, safe foods this holiday season. For more information on this topic, visit https://www.foodsafety.gov/.
If you’re interested in learning more about healthy cooking that saves you money, visit Facebook @snapedny or email [email protected]
Visit www.SNAPEDNY.org for more tips and tricks and to find virtual or in-person classes.
USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. It can help people buy nutritious foods for a better diet. To find out more, call 1 (800) 352-8401.
Sarah Martin is a lead nutritionist in the SNAP-Ed NY Northwestern Region, which includes Genesee, Orleans and Wyoming counties. SNAP-Ed NY is funded by SNAP and delivered by Cornell Cooperative Extension. Martin writes a nutrition column for The Daily News.