Holiday food and safety tips

Published: Nov. 23, 2022 at 9:14 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -On Thanksgiving, there’s plenty of iconic foods for the holiday from cranberries to pumpkin pie and of course turkey. The main star, however, should be safety.

To get your turkey from the store to ready-to-eat, it takes some planning.

Step 1: thawing the holiday bird.

“The typical rule of thumb is 24 hours per four to five pounds, so you can do that in advance in the refrigerator,” said Odell McElwaine the grocery manager at Festival Foods on Mall Drive in Eau Claire. “That’s a good way to do it.”

With Thanksgiving almost here, McElwaine has one other way to do it.

“Another good method might be a cold water bath in a sink and then you just have to run cold water on it,” McElwaine said. “Keep it submerged and then change the water every 30 minutes or so, and that’ll reduce the time to just a few hours.”

McElwaine said you can cook a frozen turkey, but you’ll need to increase the cooking time by 50 percent.

For a bird that’s already been thawed, McElwaine said: “For an unstuffed turkey, you’re going to want to do about 350 degrees and that’s 13 minutes for every pound, and that’ll get you to a safe internal temperature of 165.”

As you cook that bird, the Eau Claire Fire Department said it’s important to keep an eye on what you’re doing in the kitchen.

“All cooking, whether inside or outside, should be attended most of the time,” said Allyn Bertrang, the department’s deputy chief. “We also recommend people never have children or pets within a cooking area.”

If you’re preparing your meal in a turkey fryer, Bertrang has some reminders.

“Oftentimes people will fill them up too much and then when they put the turkey in it overflows, it ignites, causes a big fire and can burn a building down, can cause severe burns to people,” Bertrang said. “Oftentimes too they’ll try to put a frozen turkey in there that does not interact well with the hot oil causing almost like an explosion.”

If you do use something like a fryer, Bertrang said stay at least 15 feet away from any building including garages.

For firefighters, you keeping fire safety in mind is a recipe for success this holiday season.

On Thursday the fire department is kicking off its “Keep the Wreath Green” campaign. Outside of Station 2 a wreath is covered in green lights.

Any structure fire that happens within city limits through New Year’s Day means a green bulb turns red.