Time to Talk Turkey

As I turned the calendar page to November a few days ago, I realized that Thanksgiving is just a few short weeks away.  It’s one of my favorite times of year as we focus on family and the traditions that bind us together.   As I think about all the things I have to be thankful for, I find more and more blessings.  This hasn’t been an easy year for many and when life is challenging, we often don’t look for the good things around us.  May I challenge all of us to talk with our children or other family members about the things they appreciate most in life.  I’m guessing that our attitude of gratitude might become more evident.

What’s the Thanksgiving food you look forward to the most?  I’m guessing that the turkey takes the stage in most meals, the aroma drifting through the air as friends and family gather.  I’d like to share a few food safety tips in choosing and preparing your turkey and then refer you to my Let’s Talk Turkey fact sheet for any other questions you may have.

* For fresh or frozen turkeys, purchase about 1 pound per person.  If purchasing a fresh turkey, purchase only 1-2 days before cooking.

* Thawing frozen turkey should be done one of three ways:  in cold water, in the refrigerator or in the microwave with plans to immediately begin the cooking.  Look for charts on time lines in the above mentioned fact sheet.  Remember that thawing a large turkey can take 4-6 days, so remember to plan refrigerator space ahead.

* Roasting an unstuffed turkey is the safest method.  Make sure you use a food thermometer to test the meat and that it reaches 175 to 180 degrees.   If you choose to stuff your turkey, plan on doing it the morning of roasting and allow extra roasting time.

* Let roasted turkey sit for 15-20 minutes to let the juices set before carving and the juices should run clear.

* How long can you keep the leftovers?  Turkey may be kept 3-4 days, but the stuffing and gravy only 1-2 days.  Remember to put foods away quickly after the meal in small containers so that you can enjoy the leftovers safely.  If there’s more than you want to eat right away, they may be frozen for 3-4 months (for best flavor.)

As you go about the preparations for your family meal remember to enjoy the time together and follow recommended  practices to keep your family safe and healthy.  Happy Thanksgiving!

Ohio State University Extension embraces human diversity and is committed to ensuring that all research and related educational programs are available to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis without regard to race, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, or veteran status. This statement is in accordance with United States Civil Rights Laws and the USDA. Keith L. Smith, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Agricultural Administration and Director, Ohio State University Extension TDD No. 800-589-8292 (Ohio only) or 614-292-1868.