Thawing Turkey in the Refrigerator

I put a frozen turkey in my refrigerator on Sunday and on Friday it was still frozen.    Everyone now days recommends that you thaw turkeys out in the refrigerator.   Based on the weight the consensus was that it should have been thawed by Tuesday.   Let me assure you on Friday it was still frozen.   Agh!   I planned to put in the electric roaster Friday at noon and serve it for dinner that night to guest.  I was wasting gallons of water trying to thaw it out in the kitchen sink in time.

All my life growing up and most of my adult life turkey was thawed out on the kitchen counter.   I am not sure what caused a changed and made the counter method no longer acceptable.   I never remember anyone betting sick from Thanksgiving turkey or the stuffing inside it.  We practiced good clean kitchen technique and food handling.   It isn’t to say sickness was not possible,  but we were careful and smart and it worked for us.

Whoever everyone is that recommends that refrigerator method, I have tried it now a couple of times and can tell you it isn’t working for me.   I am going back to the kitchen counter and lots of common sense for my next turkey dinner.

To Wash Eggs or Not to Wash Eggs

sdrum_kitschykitchen_eggBASKET

I recently found this article  and saved it for later to write about.  Today seems to be the right time to do so.

Why American Eggs Would Be Illegal in British Supermarkets and Vise Versa , from Forbes online.

It is definitely worth taking time to read even if you an experienced chicken wrangler, a foodie or just interested in food safety. Our food system is so hard to understand sometimes.   Why are there some things that are banned in other country’s food chain and not in ours?  This makes it even more confusing because what you hear might be true in Canada, but not south of the border in the good old US of A.  This article really sheds lots of light on the egg industry and what works; two completely different protocols.

In this country we often think of eggs as a vector for food borne illness.   I hear people say they are worried about farmer’s market eggs sitting there without refrigeration.   I have had social acquaintances comment that they would rather eat grocery store eggs than mine.   (Because????  Factory farms are cleaner than my little coop with my backyard chickens.)

Some of the highlights on this side of the pond and that are as follows:

  • In the UK they vaccinate all their chickens for salmonella and it is practically non-existent; in the US we generally don’t.
  • In the UK it is illegal to wash eggs, and in the US it is required.
  • In Europe eggs are store at the grocery on  a shelf near baking supplies, and the US in a refrigerated case.

I hope you will take a few minutes and read the full article it is well written and it is enlightening about the pros and cons to each.   There is no one right answer that is for sure.

I use a combination of both with my flock.   My coop and facilities are clean and my hens lay clean eggs.   I elect not to wash them and leave the natural antibacterial coating on the egg.   I store my eggs in the refrigerator, unless I plan to make hard boiled eggs.   In which case I will leave the eggs my hens laid  in a bowl on the counter for 3 or 4 days and they are still not as stale (easy to peal) as grocery store eggs.  I would never do that for eggs that I was unsure how they were handled.

It is like all foods and food borne illness know the risks and be smart in the handling and preparation of your food

 

Do Not Rinse Your Chicken

Is your raw chicken full of nasty bacteria?

Is your raw chicken full of nasty bacteria?

WHAT?!?!?!?

This is a direct quote from the FDA website.

“Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking. “Washing these foods makes it more likely for bacteria to spread to areas around the sink and countertops,” 

I heard this the other day and thought no way.   It must be an urban or internet legend.   The “trust no one” cynic in me went straight to the FDA page and found out yep they did sure say this.    The thoughts that race through my mind when I read this are somewhat frightening.

  • In this era of we need smaller government we have gutted our food inspection process.   We have so few government inspectors that they can no longer do the job the public assumes they are doing.   Instead we are depending on the meat industry to police themselves.    Think about all the food-borne illness that comes from meat claimed to be USDA Inspected.   Asking a meat packer to inspect the meat they are processing is like asking a fox to guard a hen house.   Not happening.  The bottom line at the meat packing house is profit.
  • The fact such a broad statement is made is makes me think that most of our meat is more likely than not to be a carrier of some kind of bacteria that could cause illness.   So odds the  your meat carries bacteria, and the meat processor and the USDA are depending on you to fully cook the meat without poking the surface to prevent illness.   FYI – You supposed are too turn your steak with a tongs not a fork!  That fork tine might take bacteria to the inside of your medium steak and make you sick.   Yuck!
  • The inside of a whole chicken has all sorts of nasties left inside them.  I am not talking the giblet bag folks, but that junk attached inside the chest cavity.   Commercial processing does a darn crummy job of finishing a chicken.   I am always amazed at how much ‘guts’ are left inside whenever I see a store bought chicken.   As someone who processes her own chickens I can tell you it takes just a few seconds with a hose to get the last of  that connective and organ tissue caught there inside the bird out.   I always wonder why they leave something ripe to grow things behind, but they do.   It seems to me a prime bacteria growing place, that 30 seconds of spraying with water could get rid of. Gross, double gross!
  •  Look at your packing and you will almost find this universally, “Water added for processing.”  Do you know what this means?   Your store bought chicken is first of all cooled in a communal dunk tank, and from the sounds of it with their innards intact.   When I am done fully dressing my chickens, I admit I throw them in a cold water bath, but only until I am done with the batch I am butchering.   Then they are taken out and dry aged in the refrigerator.     Based on personal experience I don’t get how they can absorb so much water unless left a long time in that communal water.  What a wonderful place to spread bacteria, and get absorbed in to the meat/muscle tissue of the bird.   Also because chicken is sold by the pound what a great way to inflate the price!   Here is the explanation from the FDA page on this water added statement.

    “Poultry is not injected with water, but some water is absorbed during cooling in a “chill-tank,” a large vat of cold, moving water. The chill-tank lowers the temperature of the slaughtered birds and their giblets (hearts, livers, gizzards, etc). During this water chilling process, turkeys and chickens will absorb some of the water, and this amount must be prominently declared on the label. It is not unusual for poultry to declare 8 to 12% retained water on the label.”

I know I have blogged on this before, but I do come back to this again because I think it is important for consumers to think about where their food comes from and how it is handled.   I am lucky because we are able and willing to raise and butcher our own chickens; we know the woman who raises our lamb,  know the rancher who raises our grass-fed beef, and lastly know Dan our butcher, who slaughters and cuts our meat just as we want it. At our house we are are willing to acknowledge and cook our meat based  the fact that they are different than commercially raised chickens and feedlot cattle and lamb.   Most folks don’t have these luxuries.    Many of  you have no choices on your meat; your store gives you no options; your budget does not allow you to be choosy.   What I hoping this blog will do is allow you to be aware that your food isn’t  guarantee to be safe just because it came from a store or has the USDA Inspected seal on it.   Ask your store if they can make some options available to you including dry aging of your chicken.  Seek out a relationship with a small farmer or person at your local farmer’s market.   Lastly treat the meat in your home with great care to prevent cross contamination.  There is no perfect situation and we all have to make choices regarding money and time, both of them in short supply.   Carry on and make the best choices you can for your dinner plate.