Nutrition Notes: Enjoy Thanksgiving Safely

Gobble, gobble! Thanksgiving is just a few days away! With delicious dishes at the center of many Thanksgiving traditions, food safety is important during this food-filled holiday. Below is a food safety guide related to thawing, cooking and stuffing a turkey, as well as leftovers to help you and your family enjoy a safe and tasty holiday.

Thawing a Turkey: It is not safe to thaw a frozen turkey at room temperature. A turkey can be safely defrosted on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator, submerged in cold water or in a microwave. Allow approximately 24 hours per 4-5 lbs. of turkey to thaw in the refrigerator. Allow 30 minutes per pound of turkey to thaw in cold water. Place turkey in a leak-proof plastic bag, submerge in cold water and change water every 30 minutes until thawed. Follow the manufacturer’s instruction when defrosting a turkey in the microwave.

Cooking a Turkey:
Set the oven to 325°F and cook turkey to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F checking with a food thermometer in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. Let the turkey stand for 20 minutes before carving. Approximate cooking times are as follows:

  •  8 – 12 lbs. 
    2 ¾ to 3 hrs. (3 to 3 ½ hrs. if stuffed)
  • 12 – 14 lbs. 
    3 to 3 ¾ hrs. (3 ½ to 4 hrs. if stuffed)
  • 14 – 18 lbs.
    3 ¾ to 4 ¼ hrs. (4 to 4 ¼ hrs. if stuffed)
  • 18 – 20 lbs.
    4 ¼ to 4 ½ hrs. (4 ¼ to 4 ¾ hrs. if stuffed)
  • 20 – 24 lbs.
    4 ½ to 5 hrs. (4 ¾ to 5 ¼ hrs. if stuffed)

 
Stuffing a Turkey: For optimal food safety, do not cook the stuffing directly inside the turkey. Instead, cook stuffing separately in a casserole dish. If you do choose to stuff your poultry, be sure to frequently check the temperature with a food thermometer to ensure the temperature stays at 165°F.

Leftovers: Refrigerate cooked leftovers within 2 hours and consume within 3-4 days. Always reheat cooked leftovers to 165°F, checking with a food thermometer, and reheat sauces and gravies to a rolling boil.

This food safety information was derived from http://food.unl.edu/safety/thanksgiving-food-prep. Click on the link for more detailed instructions related to Thanksgiving food preparation and safety.

Looking for a fun Thanksgiving Day activity? Join us for the annual San Diego Run for the Hungry 5k & 10k, and support a good cause while burning a few calories before indulging in your favorite holiday dishes. There are still a few days left to register! Click on the link for more information: http://sdrunforthehungry.org/.