The holiday season is upon us and with that comes holiday entertaining. Whether you are feeding a whole crowd, or bringing a dish to a potluck, being aware of food safety is key. You want to make sure your food taste delicious and does not make people sick. Here are a few tips to remember this holiday season and year round.
- Before you do a big shopping, clean out the fridge to make sure it is safe for your food. Store your fruits and vegetable separate from meats or seafood. Avoid over crowding to ensure there is room for the cool air to circulate. If storing or thawing meats or fish, place them inside a sealed container to catch any juices. Consider storing them on the lowest shelf away from other foods. Consider buying an appliance thermometer to ensure the refrigerator stays between 32 – 40 F degrees and your freezer at 0F.
- Wash your hands (for 20 seconds) before touching any food, containers, or utensils. Remember to wash the counter with hot soapy water before and after any food preparation.
- The safest way to thaw frozen foods is in its original packaging and in the refrigerator. Place the food inside a bowl or container to catch any drippings. A turkey will need about 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds, so a 16 lbs bird will need at least 4 days to thaw. If you are in a hurry, place the frozen food in a zip-top bag or airtight container and submerge it in cold water. Change the water every 30 minutes and budget for 30 minutes per pound. The microwave is another way you can thaw food. Food thawed in water or the microwave must be cooked immediately. Turkeys can be cooked from frozen. Check it out: https://www.washingtonpost.com/recipes/desperation-turkey-frozen/16177/?itid=lk_inline_enhanced-template
- The only way to ensure the food is cooked thoroughly is to use a thermometer. Make sure you take the temperature at the thickest part of the meat and avoid the bone. If testing a stew or other dish with a sauce, give it a stir before taking the temperature. Reheat sauces, soups, and gravies by bringing them to a boil.
- Foods that require refrigeration, cooked or uncooked, can be left at room temperature for up to 2 hours. One hour if the room temperature is 90F or over.
- Refrigerate leftovers as soon as possible and most foods should be eaten within 4 days. Foods such as cranberry sauce can last up to 5 days. Gravies and sauces should be eaten within 2 days or they will start to lose flavour.
- Never make stuffing ahead of time instead prepare the separate ingredients and combine them immediately before cooking.
- Fruit pies made with sugar are safe at room temperature for up to 2 days after that they require refrigeration for up to 2 more days. If a pie contains dairy or eggs, it must be covered and refrigerated.
- Before you bring food to a potluck you need to consider your travel time and dinner time to determine how long the food will be out of the refrigerator or oven. If you need your food to be refrigerated, check with the host to ensure there will be room. If you are hosting provide this information to your guest so they can come prepared.