Winter holidays are a time when families gather together to enjoy good food. Many of these gatherings center around kitchens filled with great smells and even better conversations. While this can be a wonderful time of year, it can also be dangerous. The combination of cooking and crowds of people can lead to burns, fires and unsafe foods. Here are some tips for making your holiday cooking experience a safe one.
A major cooking risk, especially around the holiday season and around children, is burns. To lessen this risk, enforce a three-foot safety zone around all cooking appliances. Make sure that children know that these appliances are hot and that touching them hurts. You should also use the back burners, if possible and turn pot handles away from the edge of the stove.
Another cooking risk is fire. Never leave frying, grilling, stove-top cooking or broiling unattended as these cooking methods change quickly and can rapidly start fires. You should also never use extension cords for cooking appliances. These appliances are typically high voltage and could overload electrical circuits, causing a fire. You should also be very careful with deep-fat turkey fryers. Never use these appliances inside buildings or near flammable objects.
In addition to burns and fires, food safety is an important component of holiday cooking. Turkey, a holiday staple, should be cooked to an internal temperature of 180 degrees Fahrenheit. It is best to cook stuffing separately, but if cooking the stuffing within the turkey, make sure that the stuffing reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. For other meats, the minimum safe cooking temperature is 325 degrees. Make sure that all meats reach an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees.