This weekend marks the unofficial end of summer, and that means grilling season is coming to a close, too. Whether you’re a charcoal, wood chip or gas-powered grill master, there are plenty of tips and tricks you use to perfect your flame-fueled meal!
Food safety first
What’s the first thing you do for food safety when you’re getting ready to grill? Well, the absolute first thing you should do before handling any food is wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with warm water and soap. Then, it’s probably thawing frozen meat. Never, ever leave meat on the counter to thaw: this allows harmful bacteria to grow and could get you and your family sick. Instead, take a bit more time and thaw meat in the refrigerator. Keep it separated from any other foods, especially raw veggies and fruit.
Once you have prepped your food for the grill, it’s important to make sure that you are cooking it to the proper temperature. Use a meat thermometer to ensure that the meat is cooked thoroughly and has reached the recommended internal temperature. For example, beef should be cooked to at least 145°F, while chicken and pork should be cooked to 165°F. If you’re unsure about the recommended temperature for a particular type of meat, you can always consult a food safety guide or learn more about safe cooking temperatures from reputable sources.
Next, after washing your hands, wash your vegetables and fruit under running water. Scrub any veggies with a tough skin with a vegetable brush, and use your fingers for more delicate produce. We don’t recommend washing the meat, as it would potentially spread bacteria and germs around your kitchen. Again, make sure the raw meat and produce are completely separated.
Create a lean, mean menu
Grilling is a healthy, flavorful, and fun way to cook food. So why not make an eat smart Labor day menu? Choose lean meats such as chicken breasts or flaky fish. Make your own low-salt seasonings to cut down on unnecessary sodium.
Ditch the fried sides and grill veggies such as zucchini, corn or asparagus instead! Swap high-fat dips for homemade hummus or fresh salsa. Last, choose beverages without added sugars. Fruit-infused water is a great, refreshing option. Make your own popsicles for a cool summertime treat!
Turn up the heat
Once you know that your grill is hot, it’s time to get cooking! One tool you should always have on hand is a food thermometer. Different meats need to reach different temperatures to be safe to eat:
- Poultry: 165℉
- Pork: 145℉
- Beef: 145℉
- Fish: 145℉
Make sure you have a clean plate for the cooked meat to rest on, but don’t leave it out for too long. Be sure to chill or throw away leftovers after two hours, or only one hour if it has been sitting outside when the temperature is 90℉ or hotter.
By following these tips, your small celebration will be much safer and healthier. Although we can’t all get together as we usually would this year, spending the weekend with those you live with will still be fun and memorable. What are your socially-distanced plans for this weekend?