Preparing Food for a Celebration
October 12, 2018
Preparing foods for a special occasion
Everyone loves a celebration and this time of the year we are always looking for that special item or theme that can make our celebrations an event to be talked about.
I will give a few hints and tips on making the best choices for your food and making sure your guests are impressed by your culinary delights but also a very important and often neglected item that the food is well prepared and presented in a manner that is safe to eat.
It is estimated that around 4.1 million Australians get food poisoning each year , 32,000 are hospitalised and more than 80 die.(ref healthy WA)
Let me give you a few solid guidelines to help you make a decision that will lead to a successful event and there are reduced risks of guests getting food poisoning
When shopping for the key items for your celebration i.e turkey, pork, chicken, seafood or vegetarian options tofu, legumes or other non-animal proteins, there are some important points to be considered to make sure he food is kept safe .
Always buy you items with your storage situation at home in your mind, do you have enough fridge space for the large turkey for example, if not maybe consider buying smaller joints : bearing in mind the food needs to be stored at a maximum of 5ᵒC prior to cooking.
If you are buying a large turkey or ham because it is on special, before you are going to prepare it, make sure you have checked the use by date and it falls into the time you will prepare and consume the item. You must use a product by the use by date or freeze it prior to that date.
Raw food needs to be stored below cooked and ready to eat foods in the refrigerator this prevents cross contamination.
What is cross contamination you ask?
Cross contamination is the transfer of harmful bacteria to food from other food, cutting boards, utensils etc. This is especially true when handling raw meat, poultry and seafood, so keep these foods and their juices away from ready to eat foods and fresh produce. (ref: business dictionary.com)
Also, another important consideration when buying food for your celebration. Your fridge temperature should be below 5ᵒC if you overload the fridge with too much produce, this prevents the cold air from circulating which in turn could lead to the temperature rising above the required 5ᵒC. When the fridge temperature rises above the 5ᵒC, it moves into an area we call the danger zone which is between 5ᵒC- 60ᵒC when food is stored in his zone food poisoning bacteria can grow to unsafe levels that can make you sick.
Next thing to consider is the preparation of the food.
Always wash your hands with warm water and soap making sure you dry your hands thoroughly before handling food.
Make sure your area to be used for preparation is clean and dry.
All chopping boards should be clean ,dry and in good condition not heavily scratched, knives should be clean and dry.
It is a good idea to prepare as much prior to the day of the celebration as you can this could include pre-cooking the vegetables making salads (leave the dressing until the day you serve them) These items can be cooked, cooled and stored in the fridge for up to two days.
The hot food is best prepared on the day, you need to be mindful when handling raw food, make sure you always wash your hands after handling the raw product, also you must make sure that you change chopping boards and utensils after using o prepare a raw product.
When cooking meat, poultry make sure the internal temperature is
Steak – well done 77ᵒC
Steal -medium 71ᵒC
Steak -rare- 63ᵒC
I have a food thermometer at home, it just makes cooking easier, but make sure you remove the food from the heat before inserting the thermometer, place the instrument into the thickest part of the meat or chicken to make sure the result is accurate.
When the meat, poultry or fish has reached the desired temperature there is a simple rule to let you know how long the food will be safe
Once the food has been on the table for more than 2 hours, if it has been kept above 60ᵒC you can refrigerate It for use within 2 days.
If it has been left on the table and not kept above 60ᵒC or below 5ᵒC it should be thrown out after 2 hours, don”t divided and give to guests to take home it could cause a food poisoning hazard.
At the end of the day make sure you clean all the surfaces well, pack up all your cutlery and crockery and sit down and relax and enjoy the success of the day.