Cooking

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Cook to Proper Temperatures
Cooking food safely is a matter of degrees! Food safety experts agree that foods are properly cooked when they’re heated for a long enough time and at a high enough temperature to kill harmful bacteria that cause foodborne illness. This temperature can vary from food to food, too.The best way to keep your food safe is to use these “hot” food safety TIPS
Cook It Right . . .
Color is not a sure indicator of whether food is safe to eat. The only way to know that meat, poultry, casseroles, and other foods are properly cooked all the way through is to use a clean food thermometer.
Ground Beef
Oftentimes, when meat is “ground up” to make hamburger,bacteria that may have been present on the surface of the meat can end up inside the burger. When this happens, bacteria are less likely to be killed by cooking if the proper temperature is not achieved. Cook ground beef to at least 160° F (71° C). Use a food thermometer to check. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention link eating undercooked, pink ground beef with a higher risk of illness. If a thermometer is not available, do not eat ground beef that is still pink inside.
Meat and Poultry
Raw meat and poultry should always be cooked to a safe minimum internal temperature of 165° F . When roasting meat and poultry, use an oven temperature no lower than 325 °F, cook roasts and steaks to an internal temperature of at least 145° F, with a 3 minute rest time. Consumers may wish to cook poultry to a higher temperature for personal preference. If you aren’t going to serve hot food right away, it’s important to keep it at 140 °F or above.
Eggs
Cook eggs until the yolks and whites are firm. Don’t use recipes in which eggs remain raw or partially cooked, unless you use pasteurized eggs.
Seafood
Cook fish until it’s opaque and flakes easily with a fork
Leftovers
Foods should be reheated thoroughly to an internal temperature of 165 °F or until hot and steaming. Never let the temperature fall below 140° F. In the microwave oven, cover food and rotate so it heats evenly. Bring sauces, soups, and gravies to a boil.
How do microwaves work?
Microwaves are very-high-frequency radio waves that swing back and forth at a frequency of about 2 billion cycles per second. During this process, they make certain molecules move, and once they’re moving, they’re hot. Microwaves enter food from the outside, and penetrate instantly into a chunk of food, heating and cooking as they
Microwave Musts
We all enjoy the benefits of using the microwave for cooking and reheating foods in minutes, even seconds. However, microwaves often cook food unevenly, thus creating hot and cold spots in the food.Bacteria can survive in the cold spots. This uneven cooking occurs because the microwaves bounce around the oven irregularly. Microwaves also heat food elements like fats, sugars, and liquids more quickly than carbohydrates and proteins. Extra care must be taken to even out the cooking so that harmful bacteria is destroyed

When cooking or reheating foods in the microwave, keep these TIPS in mind:
• Cover food with plastic wrap or a glass covering and add a little liquid to food. This creates steam, which readily kills pathogens.
• To ensure uniform heating, turn the dish several times during cooking. Stir soups and stews periodically during reheating to ensure even heating.
• When done cooking, make sure the food is hot and steaming. Use a food thermometer and test the food in 2 or 3 different areas to verify that it has reached a safe internal temperature (see the “Apply the Heat” chart on page 58 for the recommended cooking temperatures).

For safe thawing, follow the THAW LAW:
• Never thaw foods at room temperature. You can safely thaw food in the refrigerator. 4 to 5 pounds of frozen food takes about 24 hours to thaw.
• You can also thaw food outside the refrigerator by immersing it in cold water. Change the water every half hour to keep the water cold.
• You can thaw food in the microwave, but if you do, be sure to cook the food immediately after it’s thawed.
•When you thaw food in the microwave, some areas of the food may become warm and begin to cook during the defrosting process. The internal temperature of the food probably hasn’t reached the temperature needed to destroy bacteria and, indeed, may have reached optimal temperatures for bacteria to grow. So don’t let the food sit in the danger zone!

Cooking Quick Tips