Seasonal Food Tips

Keep Your Roasted Chilies Safe!


It’s green chile season in Pueblo! All the local farms are harvesting Pueblo chile, firing up their roasters and chile is in the air.  Since numerous people make green chile and use it all year, it’s likely you will purchase bushels of chile and prepare them for frozen storage. Roasted chiles are a potentially hazardous food and will be hot upon purchase.  It is essential you follow rapid cooling to prepare roasted green chiles for storage. Roasted green chiles must be processed and cooled right away.  Once rapid cooling has been accomplished you can cold hold chiles or freeze them for long-term storage to enjoy all year.

Whether you prefer mild or hot, you can select and process chiles safely to add spice to your meals.  For safety and quality, follow these tips:
  • Roasted chiles should be put in a food-grade plastic bag (not a trash bag), or other food-safe container.
  • Take chiles home in a chilled ice chest within 2 hours of roasting.
  • Within 2 hours of roasting, peppers should be cooled to 70° and then to 41° in an additional 4 hours (cold holding temperature) in an ice bath or refrigerator.  Divide into small batches for quick cooling and use a food thermometer to confirm.
  • To freeze, pack chiles in plastic bags, heavy aluminum foil or freezer wrap. Remove excess air.
  • Freeze chiles to 0°F immediately after packing. Leave a little space between packages for air circulation.
  • Label and date packages.
  • Bacteria can live during freezer storage.  So thaw chiles in a refrigerator! Bacteria can revive, grow and cause an illness.

Thanksgiving
The Thanksgiving meal is the largest many cooks prepare each year. Getting it just right, especially the turkey, brings a fair amount of pressure whether or not a host is experienced with roasting one. Follow these tips to make sure your Thanksgiving meal is both delicious and safe to serve.

Steps to follow before cooking a turkey:
·    Read labels carefully. Temperature labels show if the bird is fresh or frozen. If you plan to serve a fresh turkey, purchase it no more than two days before Thanksgiving.
·    Purchase two thermometers: a refrigerator thermometer to ensure the turkey is stored at 40 °F or slightly below and a food thermometer to make sure the cooked turkey reaches a safe 165 °F.
·    Thaw the turkey by using the microwave, the cold water method, or the refrigerator. The refrigerator method is USDA recommended.
Steps to follow when cooking a turkey:
·    Wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before touching any food to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness.
·    Do not wash the turkey. This only spreads pathogens onto kitchen surfaces. The only way to kill bacteria that causes foodborne illness is to fully cook the turkey.
·    Keep raw turkey separated from all other foods at all times.
·    Use separate cutting boards, plates, and utensils when handling raw turkey to avoid cross-contamination. Wash items that have touched raw meat with warm soap and water, or place them in a dishwasher.
·    Cook the turkey until it reaches 165 °F, as measured by a food thermometer. Check the turkey’s temperature by inserting the thermometer in three places: the thickest part of the breast, the innermost part of the thigh, and the innermost part of the wing.
Steps to follow when consuming leftover Thanksgiving food:
·    Refrigerate leftovers within two hours to prevent bacteria from growing on the food.
·    Store leftovers in shallow pans or containers to decrease cooling time. This prevents the food from spending too much time at unsafe temperatures (between 41 °F to 135 °F).
·    Do not store stuffing inside a leftover turkey. Remove the stuffing from the turkey, and refrigerate the stuffing and the meat separately.
·    Avoid consuming leftovers that have been left in the refrigerator for longer than 3 or 4 days (next Tuesday to be exact). Use the freezer to store leftovers for longer periods of time.
·    Keep leftovers in a cooler with ice or frozen gel packs if the food is traveling home with a guest who lives more than two hours away.

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