How to treat your turkey before Thanksgiving cooking

Holidays

(WJW) — With Thanksgiving week upon us, it’s time to dig out the old recipes once again. According to the USDA, if your frozen turkey weighs over 20 pounds, Monday’s the day to put it in the fridge to thaw in time.

Before you carry on old traditions, the CDC says you might want to rethink what’s for many the first step in turkey prep. They say you shouldn’t wash or rinse raw turkey, since its juices can spread in the kitchen and contaminate other foods, utensils, and countertops. A 2020 survey found that 78% of participants reported washing or rinsing turkey before cooking, the CDC said, but those old recipes and family cooking traditions can make you and your family sick.

Here are a few other turkey-prepping reminders from the CDC:

  • Never thaw your turkey by leaving it out on the counter, because bacteria grow rapidly in the “danger zone” between 40 and 140 degrees
  • When serving, use a food thermometer to make sure the turkey has reached a safe internal temperature of 165 degrees
  • Refrigerate leftovers at 40 degrees or colder as soon as possible
  • Reheat leftovers to at least 165 degrees before serving

The USDA says that if you’re serving a 20-plus-pound turkey, it’ll need days to thaw in the refrigerator—one day for each four to five pounds of weight. They recommend thawing the turkey in the fridge, saying it’s “the safest method because the turkey will thaw at a consistent, safe temperature.”

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