Gathering again? Tips for a safe and healthy Thanksgiving
For families who settled for smaller gatherings and remote blessings during the height of the pandemic, this Thanksgiving looks like the return of the big bash.
More folks are getting together this year, with the American Automobile Association predicting holiday travel will be nearly back to prepandemic levels.
If that’s the case at your house, it may have been a while since you faced a frozen turkey or remembered which cousins shouldn’t sit together.
To help you brush up on the holiday basics, here are some tips to keep everyone safe, healthy and sane:
FIRST, THE TURKEY
The big bird is the center of most Thanksgiving meals, but it’s important to handle raw poultry properly to avoid spreading bacteria that can send your guests home with an unwanted side of food poisoning. Thaw safely. A frozen turkey needs about 24 hours to thaw for every 4 to 5 pounds of weight, according to the Agriculture Department. In a pinch, it can be thawed in a cold water bath or even a microwave, but it must be cooked immediately if you use those methods. And don't wash the turkey. It's a bad idea to rinse it in the sink, a practice that can spread potentially dangerous germs like salmonella to nearby areas, said Jennifer Quinlan, a Drexel University nutrition sciences professor who has studied consumers’ turkey-handling habits. Instead, pat the turkey dry with paper towels and plop it in the roasting pan.
COOK THOROUGHLY, REFRIGERATE PROMPTLY
The best way to make sure your turkey is fully cooked, to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit, is to use a meat thermometer, said Lisa Shelley, who researches food safety at North Carolina State University. Don’t rely on golden-brown skin or the color of the turkey juices. Once the turkey is served, be sure to refrigerate it and all the other leftovers — mashed...