Going cold turkey: how to store your Christmas bird

By Eliza Keck

19 December 2016

2 minute read

Turkey

Avoid giving the gift of food poisoning this Christmas by storing your turkey correctly. Image: Flickr / Another Pint Please

Christmas is around the corner and now’s the time for the uber organised to sit back, point and laugh at us poor last minute people braving the supermarkets today to buy the centerpiece of most feasts – a turkey.

But, given an estimated 75 per cent of turkey sales are this time of year, it’s safe to assume us Aussies don’t eat turkey very often and – if we’re honest – most of us probably have no idea how to store and cook turkey safely.

So, to avoid giving the gift of food poisoning this year we decided to help you out and put together a few handy hints.

If you’re buying it frozen to cook at home, defrost it in the fridge for two days- longer if it’s a big bird. Store it (and other raw meat) at the bottom of your fridge, and cooked meat and other ready to eat foods at the top so that any germs that drip off the raw meat don’t contaminate other foods. Fruit and veggies in the bottom crisper should be protected from any drips.

The good old home fridge can get pretty full at Christmas time, so leave it for the ‘important’ food and put stuff like drinks in the old fridge in the shed or on ice in an esky.

Keep a thermometer in your fridge – you want it to be around 5⁰C to keep foods safe for as long as possible.

To cook a turkey, just follow the instructions on the pack or from your butcher. It’s really important to cook poultry properly (unlike a steak, say) as undercooked meat can cause food poisoning.  It is OK to cook meat from frozen, but will probably take twice as long.

Stick a cake skewer – or better still, a meat thermometer – in between the thigh and the body (don’t go as far as the bone). If the juices run clear, not pink, and it’s reached 74⁰C, then it’s cooked.

Keep your turkey hot before dinner begins (60°C or above) to keep bacteria at bay. Cover with foil to keep moist. Grab your cranberry sauce and enjoy!

Don’t leave food out for more than an hour or two, especially in warm weather, so put leftovers (cut into smaller pieces) in the fridge as soon as you can.

Turkey will keep for around three days in the fridge and we love it on fresh bread with apple and watercress, or brie and beetroot.

Cooking something else for Christmas? Why not have a look at our five food safety myths busted blog for some more tips.

Turkey infographic