As summer holidays approach, families everywhere are looking to do some grilling outside. Portobello mushroom caps, juicy homemade burgers, fresh shrimp kebabs… the list of great grilled meals goes on. Family barbecues are lots of fun, but are you preparing your food properly for outdoor eating? For many families who go camping or are grilling in the great outdoors, so following the CDC’s rules for grilling will be an important guideline for all dishes.
To celebrate this great summer season, Texarkana Emergency Center wanted to go through these grilling rules and elaborate on how you and your family can stay safe while cooking outdoors.
Before You Cook
So you’re at the grocery store wondering what to pack for the big family trip to the lake. You know you’ll be grilling, but what can you buy at the store that will be the best for it?
If you’re an experienced griller or have a lot of recipes to work with, then you might not have this concern. But for those who are new to the ways of the grill, it might be intimidating to decide which foods to buy. The easiest route is to keep it simple. A good grill can put a lot of flavor into anything you make, so something as basic as grilling some zucchini and sausages can be special on the grill. Try to look for large vegetables and fruits that don’t have too much excess juice or leaves—things like tomatoes and cabbage can be difficult to grill, because once your chop them up, pieces could fall between the grill grates and into the fire. Peaches, corn, peppers, squash, and mushrooms are all great produce items to take with you to the grill.
For meats, make sure you’re picking single serving proteins. It will take an awfully long time to grill an entire chicken, so buy packages of drumsticks, thighs, or breasts to grill individually. Sausages and ground beef or turkey for hamburgers are also good options. If you are interested in grilling seafood, then look for fresh shrimp or nice fish fillets at the local market.
At check out, make sure that any meat or fish you buy is packed separately from your vegetables. You want to avoid any possibility of cross-contamination from the beginnings, so you can lower the risk of bacteria being spread once you get outside.
Assuming that you already have your grill, then you want to make sure all of your grilling equipment is clean and ready for a cookout. Wash the grilling grates and clean out any excess dust and soot from previous use. If you use a wire grill brush for cleaning, then make sure no pieces of wire broke off because they might get into your food. Make sure you have grilling-specific cooking mitts and some good tongs to help you turn your food.
For storing any food during outdoor trips, you want a cooler that can maintain temperatures below 40⁰F. Meats, fish, and dairy products all need to stay at this cold temperature to stay fresh and bacteria-free. Fruits and vegetables should stay chilled too, but they should be stored separately from the meats. Extra ice is never a bad idea, especially if you’re grilling in Texas, where it gets particularly hot.
You’ve got the best foods, and you’ve got clean equipment, now you’re ready to grill! When you’re cooking on the open grill, temperature is very important. With a meat thermometer, make sure you are taking temperatures of all your meats so that you know that you’re killing all potential bacteria, as well as locking in the best flavors. Maintain the following temperatures for at least 15 seconds to ensure they’re cooked properly:
- 145⁰F for whole cuts of red meats (like beef, lamb, and pork), and all fish
- 160⁰F for ground hamburgers
- 165⁰F for poultry of any kind, and pre-cooked meats like hot-dogs
- 225⁰F-300⁰F for anything cooked inside a smoker
- 140⁰F is a standard resting temperature for all foods, and it is recommended to keep cooked foods at this temperature until served.
With these temperatures in mind, you should be able to grill to your heart’s content, while always making sure to keep your food fresh and delicious. If you’re grilling in the backyard, with easy access to a fridge, then make sure that you put away any leftovers within 2 hours of cooking (within 1 hour if you’re outside in heat of 90⁰F or higher) to make sure that it all stays fresh.
With these basic cooking ideas and a fire extinguisher for extra safety, your outdoor grilling will be fun and tasty this summer. In the case of any accidents, though, Texarkana Emergency Center is always ready to help you and your family with any medical emergency. We’re open 24/7, even on July 4th, with concierge-level emergency care.
This blog is written by Maggie Berardo, content writer at Nutex Health.
Nutex Health, Inc. supports you and your family’s health. Come visit Texarkana Emergency Center or any one of our concierge-level freestanding facilities for the emergency care you deserve, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.