By Patsy Watkins MPS, CFCSFamily & Consumer Sciences Agent, UT/TSU Extension, Williamson County
Thanksgiving is a festival harvest holiday meant to celebrate and be thankful for whatever you feel you’ve been blessed with (good health, family, friends, raises, completing a goal, etc…). And in its current form, Thanksgiving is filled with wonderful (and delicious!) traditions, such as watching the Macy’s Day Parade, or football games, and cooking a giant feast with cranberries, stuffing, sweet potatoes, pumpkin pie, and the famous Turkey. One tradition associated with the turkey is the wishbone (which all turkeys and chickens have), where two people each take hold of the ends of the bone, they make a wish, and pull! Whoever has the larger part of the bone gets their wish. Turkey for Thanksgiving has become such a famous tradition that Thanksgiving is even sometimes called “Turkey Day.” Each year, the President of the United States pardons a live turkey at a White House ceremony, allowing the turkey to live out the rest of its life on a farm.
Having a cooked turkey is a staple tradition of Thanksgiving but there are some important things to know when cooking your Thanksgiving bird this year.
- Allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds when thawing your turkey in the refrigerator.
- When thawing in cold water, allow approximately 30 minutes per pound and change the water every 30 minutes.
- When roasting your turkey, set the oven temperature no lower than 325° A whole turkey is safe to eat when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165°F measured with a food thermometer.
- Always wash hands, utensils, the sink, and anything else that comes into contact with the raw turkey and its juices.
- For fresh turkeys, allow 1 pound of turkey per person, buy your turkey only 1-2 days before you plan to cook it, keep it stored in the refrigerator until you’re ready to cook, and do not buy fresh pre-stuffed turkeys.
- For frozen turkeys, allow 1 pound of turkey per person and keep frozen until you’re ready to thaw it. Turkeys can be kept frozen in the freezer indefinitely; however cook within a year for best quality!
- When storing your leftovers, discard any turkey, stuffing, and gravy left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours, 1 hour in temperatures above 90°F. Divide leftovers into smaller portions and refrigerate in shallow containers. Eat refrigerated leftovers within 3 to 4 days after initial cooking.