Town offers Thanksgiving cooking tips

As residents prepare to stuff their bellies with Thanksgiving turkey, the Greenwich Department of Health is offering several tips on proper storage and cooling methods that could be helpful in preventing illness among family and guests over the holiday.

A fresh, ready-to-cook whole turkey should be refrigerated immediately as it is just as perishable as fresh meat and fresh fish. Also be sure to loosely wrap the giblets and store them separately.

Frozen turkeys should be kept tightly sealed in the original plastic covering before thawing. People should always thaw out in the refrigerator and never thaw at room temperature. The process takes time — sometimes several days for larger turkeys — so planning ahead is essential. An additional safe way to thaw a turkey is to place the wrapped turkey in a clean container and run cool tap water over it. But if you do that, make sure to keep the water running.

 

Holiday chefs are also reminded to wash the turkey thoroughly before cooking and to clean and disinfect all surfaces and utensils that come in contact with the raw turkey prior to their contact with other cooked and ready to eat foods. The Department of Health recommends using a disinfecting solution ratio of one teaspoon of household bleach to one gallon of water.

Ideally, it is best to cook stuffing separately to keep bacteria from growing in the turkey cavity but if you must stuff the turkey, do so just before cooking. If it is necessary to make the stuffing ahead of time, refrigerate it separately and under no circumstances should the turkey be stuffed and refrigerated overnight. Additionally, never partially cook a turkey and then finish cooking it later. Bacteria can survive in partially cooked turkey.

If making gravy, be sure to cook giblets thoroughly and bring the gravy to a boil. Keep the gravy very hot, at 140 degrees or above, prior to use and refrigerate immediately after the meal.

Finally, as soon as possible after dinner, remove all the stuffing from the turkey and store in a clean separate container. Remove turkey from the bone and place the turkey and stuffing in the refrigerator or in the freezer immediately.

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