Preparing foods for the grill
- Completely thaw meat and poultry in the refrigerator before grilling, so it cooks evenly.
- Never thaw raw meats on a countertop or in a sink. Thawing at room temperature increases the risk of bacteria growth at the surface of the meat, even though the interior may still be chilled.
- Marinate foods in the refrigerator, not on the counter, where bacteria can multiply.
- Discard leftover marinade. Do not use it on cooked foods as a dressing or dipping sauce because it could contain bacteria.
- Do not use the same utensils, platters and basting brushes for both raw and cooked meat. Juices from the raw meat may contaminate cooked food.
- Wash your hands thoroughly before and after preparing any food product.
Cooking food on the grill
- Use a food thermometer to make certain the meat is thoroughly cooked.
- Cook meat to proper temperatures by using the following internal temperature guide:
- Beef, pork, lamb and veal: 145 degrees Fahrenheit (Allow 3 minutes to rest before consuming).
- Ground meats: 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Chicken: 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Picnic cookouts and barbecues
- Use an insulated cooler filled with ice or frozen gel packs. Frozen food also can be used as a cold source.
- A full cooler will maintain its cold temperature longer than a partially filled one. When using a cooler, keep it out of the direct sun by placing it in the shade or shelter.
- Avoid repeatedly opening the cooler so your food stays cold longer.
- Foods that need to be kept cold include raw meat, poultry, seafood, deli and luncheon meats, sandwiches, summer salads, cut-up fruit and vegetables and perishable dairy products.
- Keep foods such as cooked hamburgers and hotdogs, condiments, cheese slices and others, covered with a clear cover or wrap to prevent flies from landing and spreading their germs.
Storing and eating leftovers
- Leftovers should be stored in the refrigerator within 2 hours after cooking is complete.
- Leftovers should be divided into smaller portions and stored in shallow, airtight containers. They should be eaten within 3 to 4 days.
- If large amounts are left, consider freezing for later use. Frozen leftovers should be eaten within 6 months.
- Reheat leftovers to 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
Numerous people make green chiles and use them all year. During roasted chile season, it’s likely you will purchase bushels of chile and prepare them for frozen storage. Roasted chiles are a potentially hazardous food and will be hot upon purchase. It is essential you follow rapid cooling to prepare roasted green chiles for storage. Roasted green chiles must be processed and cooled right away. Once rapid cooling has been accomplished you can cold hold chiles or freeze them for long-term storage to enjoy all year.
For safety and quality, follow these tips:
- Roasted chiles should be put in a food-grade plastic bag (not a trash bag), or other food-safe container.
- Take chiles home in a chilled ice chest within 2 hours of roasting.
- Within 2 hours of roasting, peppers should be cooled to 70° and then to 41° in an additional 4 hours (cold holding temperature) in an ice bath or refrigerator. Divide into small batches for quick cooling and use a food thermometer to confirm.
- To freeze, pack chiles in plastic bags, heavy aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Remove excess air.
- Freeze chiles to 0°F immediately after packing. Leave a little space between packages for air circulation.
- Label and date packages.
- Bacteria can live during freezer storage. So thaw chiles in the refrigerator! Bacteria can revive, grow and cause an illness.
The Thanksgiving meal is the largest many cooks prepare each year. Getting it just right, especially the turkey, brings a fair amount of pressure whether or not a host is experienced with roasting one. Follow these tips to make sure your Thanksgiving meal is both delicious and safe to serve.
Before cooking a turkey:
- Read labels carefully. Temperature labels show if the bird is fresh or frozen. If you plan to serve a fresh turkey, purchase it no more than two days before Thanksgiving.
- Purchase two thermometers: a refrigerator thermometer to ensure the turkey is stored at 41 °F or slightly below and a food thermometer to make sure the cooked turkey reaches a safe 165 °F.
- Thaw the turkey by using the microwave, the cold water method, or the refrigerator. The refrigerator method is USDA recommended.
When cooking a turkey:
- Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness.
- Keep raw turkey separated from all other foods at all times.
- Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils when handling raw turkey to avoid cross-contamination. Wash items that have touched raw meat with warm soap and water, or place them in a dishwasher.
- Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F, as measured by a food thermometer. Check the turkey’s temperature by inserting the thermometer in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.
For leftover Thanksgiving food:
- Refrigerate leftovers within two hours to prevent bacteria from growing on the food
- Store leftovers in shallow pans or containers to decrease cooling time. This prevents the food from spending too much time at unsafe temperatures (between 41 °F to 135 °F).
- Do not store stuffing inside a leftover turkey. Remove the stuffing from the turkey, and refrigerate the stuffing and the meat separately.
- Avoid consuming leftovers that have been left in the refrigerator for longer than 3 or 4 days (next Tuesday to be exact). Use the freezer to store leftovers for longer periods of time.
- Keep leftovers in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs if the food is traveling home with a guest who lives more than two hours away.