Let’s talk turkey: choosing, preparation, storage


The Extension office will be closed today and tomorrow, Nov. 26 and 27, for the Thanksgiving holiday.

The staff of the CSU Extension office wishes you and your families a very happy and safe Thanksgiving.

I wrote the following article last year, but a reminder is always important when it comes to food safety and the holidays. Keep your guests healthy and free from food-borne illness by practicing the following recommendations provided by the USDA, Colorado State University and other organizations.

Turkey is often the main dish at holiday meals, yet if it is not prepared correctly and safely, it can cause foodborne illness.

Turkeys: fresh or frozen

• Allow 1 pound of turkey per person.

• For fresh turkeys, buy your turkey only one to two days before you plan to cook it. Frozen turkeys should be kept frozen until thawed and immediately cooked.

• Keep fresh turkeys stored in the refrigerator until you are ready to cook them. Place them on a tray or in a pan to catch any juices that may leak.

Do not buy fresh pre-stuffed turkeys unless they display the USDA or state mark of inspection on the packaging. These turkeys are safe because they have been processed under controlled conditions. If not handled properly, any harmful bacteria that may be in the stuffing can multiply very quickly. Do not thaw before cooking. Cook from the frozen state and follow package directions for proper handling and cooking.

Thawing your turkey

There are three ways to thaw your turkey safely — in the refrigerator, in cold water or in the microwave oven. Remove the giblets from the turkey cavities after thawing and cook separately.

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