Summertime just screams barbecue and is a great time to get together to celebrate Dad, the end of school, warmer days, the 4th of July and for just plain good food and fun. But with fun comes responsibility.
Here are some safety tips for your bbq.
No one wants food poisoning and the mere fact that you’re cooking outside can mean that your ingredients are outside too, as well as your prepared foods. Your meats (and other foods) should be properly refrigerated before and after they’re cooked.
Food, especially meats, should be refrigerated as long as possible before taking outside to cook over the open flame. Marinades should be done in the fridge, not on the picnic table as the warmer outdoor temps can cause bacteria to grow at a faster rate.
Watch your Temps
Pay attention to the outside temperature. On a hot sunny day the meat should be contained in a shaded area (after coming from the refrigerator). Don’t let your foods sit in direct sunlight as this can cause food to begin spoiling faster. Some items can be kept in your cooler.
Don’t Make Too Much
When cooking for a crowd, we sometimes think more is better. That’s true, to a point. Most caterers and pro-cooks will figure out how much of each dish is needed for a certain number of people then add a buffer. This is usually 10%.
When you cook more than needed there’s the possibility of leaving it on the grill too long, or having it sit around thinking someone will eat it. You don’t need to roast a whole package of weiners if you’re just feeding 2-3 people. Think about portions and provide enough sides for everyone to get their fill. Follow safety precautions and promptly refrigerate or dispose of leftovers. Still hungry? You can always cook another burger or weiner or you can pull out the watermelon or hand-cranked ice cream!
Do you watch Kitchen Nightmares, Gordon Ramsey’s 24 Hours, or Bar Rescue? It seems like every episode allows us a glimpse of some cross-contamination blunder. You can avoid cross contamination by keeping your vegetables separate from the meat you’re cooking. Cook the vegetables towards the end of the cooking time for the meat as the juices are now cooked (instead of raw juices when the meat is first put on the grill.)
Barbecues are a good way to hone your outdoor cooking skills as well as having an enjoyable time with friends or family. Following some simple precautionary practices will help assure that your loved ones stay safe from food borne issues.
Get outside this summer and cook something tasty!