How do you properly thaw a turkey? How long can you keep Thanksgiving leftovers?

Food

(WTNH) — The last thing anyone hosting a holiday would want is to make their guests sick.

Dr. Kirsten Bechtel is a Yale emergency room physician and has seen her share of food-borne sickness around the holidays. She says these sicknesses are not just unpleasant, they can take a toll on your body.

“The dreaded consequence is that you’re so dehydrated you might need intravenous fluids,” she explained.

Dr. Bechtel says turkeys need proper thawing and cooking. If thawing in cold water in a bucket or pot, she says “you have to change the water pretty frequently, usually every 30 minutes because you want to keep the temperature below 40 degrees.”

If thawing a turkey in the refrigerator, she said, “for five pounds it takes a whole day, or 24 hours, to thaw. So every pound is about six hours in the refrigerator to thaw.”

Dr. Bechtel advises cooking the bird within two days of thawing it. And as for proper cooking, she says to get the oven to at least 325 degrees.

“You want to cook it so that the thickest part of the breast or the thigh reaches about 165 degrees.”

She recommends cooking stuffing outside of the bird.

And after the meal is served, how long can food safely sit out on the table or counter?

“Probably no more than two hours and if you’re not going to eat it you want to put it in the refrigerator as soon as possible and keep it set at at least 40 degrees,” she explained.

Dr. Bechtel says those leftovers can stay in the fridge for three to four days max, and recommends you eat or freeze them before that.

And if you are frying a turkey, she urges it to be done outside without children around. She has treated adults and children with hot oil splash burns in the ER.

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