What would our cuisine be without poultry? For one thing, not as varied– because chicken, turkey, duck & co. provide variety on the plate with their different flavours. If you multiply the types of poultry with their different cuts and preparation options, you get an infinite number of delicious combinations. But before the enjoyment comes the cooking. There are many aspects to consider when buying, storing, and preparing poultry.
Shopping for Poultry
What to pay attention to?
One major advantage of the European Union is its uniform legislation on food. For poultry, this means that producers in all Member States comply with strict regulations regarding animal welfare, food safety and sustainable production. So that consumers can be sure of buying high-quality poultry products.
Fresh poultry meat is easily identified at the deli and refrigerated counters. The skin should not look dry, and the meat should be pink, shiny, and moist. And it must not have an unpleasant odour, of course.
Frozen meat should not be covered in a layer of ice and, in the case of pre-packaged fresh meat, the packaging should not be swollen. If the poultry meat passes these tests, there is nothing to worry about. Now all that remains is to get your purchase home as coolly and quickly as possible, so as not to interrupt the refrigeration chain. This is best done with a thermo bag.
What's the best way to preserve it?
At home, it is best to immediately unpack any poultry meat purchased from the deli counter, place it in a container, cover with cling film and eat as soon as possible, i.e. within two to three days. In the case of self-service products, a consumption date (‘use by…’, expiry date) is indicated on the packaging. In contrast to the ‘best before’ date, this date must be observed without fail.
Instead of in a tightly closed container, the poultry meat can be placed in a marinade of oil, herbs and spices. This protects it from oxidation while at the same time flavouring it.
The optimum storage temperature is between 0°C and 4°C. In the refrigerator, this is usually reached in the bottom section. However, the most suitable place may vary depending on the appliance. As a general rule, the refrigerator should not be too full so that air can circulate well, and food can cool down well. Also, raw poultry meat should not be stored directly next to food that is to be eaten raw. Cooked poultry meat can be kept in the refrigerator for one or two days if well cooled, preferably in an airtight container.
Frozen poultry should be kept in the freezer at -18 °C and consumed before the ‘best before date’. Freshly bought chicken or turkey is best packed in freezer bags before freezing. This way it will keep for up to ten months.
Poultry meat should never be defrosted at room temperature. Ideally, defrosting should be done slowly in the refrigerator – in a sieve over a bowl so that the defrosting liquid can drip off. For 500 grams of poultry meat, this takes about five hours. For a whole chicken or turkey, you should allow a good 24 hours.
One alternative is defrosting in cold water. However, the meat should be well packaged and whole animals should be placed breast down in the bowl of cold water.
If poultry is defrosted in the microwave, it must be cooked immediately afterwards.
How to do it properly?
Germs are found on every natural and unprocessed food. The high EU hygiene standards at all stages of production and commercialisation ensure that poultry meat enters our kitchens being safe without undergoing any treatment. Other countries outside EU, have a totally different approach: hygiene standards during the whole production process are much less stringent, and the safety is only achieved by treating the end product with chemical solutions, such as chlorine – this is unthinkable (and of course forbidden) for EU producers.
On the last stretch of the way to culinary enjoyment, optimal kitchen hygiene ensures that natural germs are not transferred to other foods that are later eaten raw.
In concrete terms, this means: wash your hands thoroughly before and after contact with the meat, use separate cutting boards and knives for poultry meat, and rinse them hot using detergent.
Incidentally, washing the raw poultry is counterproductive, as it does not destroy the natural germs. On the contrary, washing creates a risk of transmission to other raw foods.
It is much more important to cook the meat thoroughly. Poultry is ‘well done’ when the colour of the meat has changed to white, colourless meat juice escapes, or the core temperature is at 70 °C for at least two minutes when pierced in the thickest part.
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The content of this promotion campaign represents the views of the author only and is his/her sole responsibility. The European Commission and the European Research Executive Agency (REA) do not accept any responsibility for any use that may be made of the information it contains.