Proper food preparation and handling can help you avoid spoiling not just your meal, but also your summer gathering.
Here are some simple guidelines to follow when cooking outdoors this summer, provided by the United States Department of Agriculture:
- While shopping for your summer activities, make sure to purchase cold food — especially meat — last, right before checkout.
- Completely thaw meat to make sure that it cooks evenly. For slow, safe thawing, place the meat in the refrigerator.
- If you plan on marinating your food, let it marinate in the fridge and not on the countertop.
- To minimize bacterial growth, keep food cold at all times, even when transporting it.
- Cook all food thoroughly and know how to prepare various meats.
- When serving, make sure to keep the hot food hot and the cold food cool.
Take extra caution as the weather gets warmer. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services offers simple steps you can take to avoid food poisoning:
- Clean: Make sure to wash your hands, utensils and the surfaces that you are working on often.
- Separate: Do not cross-contaminate food. While at the grocery, make sure to keep your meat and eggs separate from other foods; also do this in your fridge. When preparing the food, use separate cutting boards and surfaces. When grilling, make sure to use a different plate to take the food off and not the same one you used to bring out the raw food.
- Cook: Even when microwaving food, make sure that the food reaches at least 165˚F or above to kill all bacteria. When grilling or cooking food on the stovetop, make sure it’s cooked completely through before serving.
- Chill: To stop bacteria from growing within your food, refrigerate within two hours of being cooked. Know when to throw out old food to avoid harmful bacteria from growing in leftovers.
Keep these valuable tips in mind as you indulge in the art of cooking. Make sure your guests leave happy and healthy. But beware – they may just come back for more!