With all that extra food you wouldn't normally have in your house, storing it at proper temperatures could be a challenge. Think about all the dishes you're planning to have this Thanksgiving and make sure you have adequate space to keep hot dishes hot and the cold ones cold. You may need to use coolers and if so, check them regularly to make sure the ice hasn't melted.
2. Properly Defrost Your Turkey.
Be sure to allocate at least 24 hours per 5 pounds to defrost your turkey in the refrigerator. Do not let your turkey defrost on the kitchen counter. If you don't have enough time to defrost it in the fridge properly, using a cold water bath is another safe option. In this case, you will need to change the cold water bath every 30 minutes which can be time consuming.
3. Wash Your Hands Often.
Be sure to thoroughly wash your hands before you start preparing the food. Throughout the food preparation, continue to wash your hands regularly, especially when moving from preparing one dish to another. Simply washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to minimize food contamination. Be sure to wash your hands again when you are completely done preparing all the food.
4. Wash All Fresh Produce.
Make sure you wash all produce, even the prepackaged greens. You want to minimize potential bacteria contamination, and you don't know who or what has touched that produce while it was sitting in the store. You'll also want to make sure that your kitchen counters, sponges, cutting boards and knives are well scrubbed.
5. Cook Everything to Proper Temperature.
Use a thermometer to make sure that your food has been cooked enough to kill any bacteria. Hot dishes, such as Turkey and stuffing, should be heated to at least 165 degrees and kept above 140 degrees while being served to make sure any potential bacteria is destroyed. For the cold dishes, you'll want to make sure they stay at least 40 degrees or lower.
6. Be Extra Careful with Eggs.
Many eggnog recipes call for uncooked eggs, but to be perfectly safe, you need to use pasteurized eggs or cook the egg yolks lightly. You want to be sure to kill any potential salmonella bacteria. Also, keep your eggs refrigerated until they're ready for use and always cook egg products to at least 160 degrees.
7. Keep Guests Out of the Kitchen.
The holidays always coincide with cold and flu season, which further compounds the fact that about half of your guests will be carrying bacteria on their fingertips. It's important to prevent anyone from picking at the food while it is being prepared. Since people tend to get hungry waiting for dinner, consider having some small appetizers for your guests to nibble on while the food is being prepared.
8. Refrigerate Leftovers Within Two Hours.
While leaving the food out to snack on all afternoon may sound like less work, leaving food out too long is one of the biggest holiday food safety issues. When food sits out too long (and doesn't stay within the proper temperatures listed above), there is a potential for bacteria growth. Experts suggest to cut the meat off the turkey to allow it to cool properly, and store more easily.
9. Reheat Leftovers to 165 Degrees.
Filling a plate of food and popping it into the microwave might seem like the most logical way to heat up your leftovers. However, it is important to use a thermometer to make sure those leftovers are heated enough to kill any possible bacteria. Microwaves heat in an uneven manner, so be sure to let it sit for a minute or two to let the heat destroy anything and then check the temperature all around the plate.
Happy Thanksgiving from Summerset Inn Resort! While we are currently closed for the season, we are anxiously awaiting your visit next year. Give us a call at 573-348-5073 to get your Lake of the Ozarks vacation dates on our calendar now. From one bedroom units to five bedroom villas, our waterfront resort at the Lake of the Ozarks is the perfect place for any group to stay!
Summerset Inn Resort & Villas
1165 Jeffries Road Osage Beach, MO 65065
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