LAKE MARY, Fla. - It's obvious that the turkey is the star of Thanksgiving. It's not as obvious how many germs your turkey is carrying.
Jeff Youmans at Petty's Meat Market in Longwood said you should start defrosting your turkey three days before you plan to cook it, and that where you thaw it matters. Placing in the fridge is fine, but don't place it on the top shelf. All the juices leaking from the turkey could contain salmonella and other foodborne diseases. He recommends placing the turkey on the bottom shelf, in a bowl that can soak up all the juices, and do not let other foods touch the bird.
"If you get in an emergency where you don't pull it out in time, you can do it in a water bath. Keep changing your water."
Make sure that water is cold. If your turkey is still frozen do not place it in the deep fryer. That is asking for trouble and could lead to an explosion.
Another tip from experts, do not rinse your turkey. This goes against everything we've been told all our lives. Chefs should still wash their hands, but do not wash the turkey. Those same germs that are leaking out during the thawing process are also still on the skin, and the spraying water from your skin could spread those germs into your kitchen by up to three feet, according to experts.
If you're really in a pinch, and the turkey will not thaw or you burned the bird, you could always try the humane route. Norma Linares is the chef at Norma's Plant-Based Kitchen in Altamonte Springs.
"Before it was very limited now we have tofurkey, meatloaf, walnuts."
The tofurkeys they sell cook in just one hour.
"It isn't too big it isn't too complicated and it's delicious."