Last year I wrote a blog that debunked and clarified some Thanksgiving myths. At the time, not too many people were reading my blog and I feel like I don’t want my hard research to go to waste on the three people that may have read it-so I am going to cheat alittle bit and repost my last year Thanskgiving blog, but to be fair will throw in a few extra tidbits for 2014!

The holidays are coming up and all of a sudden everyone is a food scientist and knows all about tryptophan, proper turkey thawing, the best raw ingredients to use for pumpkin pie, and the accuracy of pop-up thermometers. Will the real chefs and culinologists please stand up? It is your job to stop the false rumors and annoyingly educate your family and friends with your official, technical and documentable knowledge!

Pumpkin pie ingredients. While all my organic northern California friends are gently cooking and pureeing down their farmers market pumpkin, I recommend taking the easy way out. Call your local Stahlbush representative and ask them nicely if they will send you a sample of their gorgeous bright-orange frozen pumpkin purée. Be honest, tell them you want to make it into a pumpkin pie and offer to pay for the overnight shipping.

 I snagged a few lbs of Stahlbush sweet potato puree and pumpkin puree and am looking forward to mixing it with curry and coconut (one of the McCormick and Seasoning company’s flavor pairing profile recomendations) and making a a creamy vegan soup! I might even acidify it, file it with the FDA and manufacture it someday!

Tryptophan myth. After the big meal, everyone loves to crash out and blame it on the tryptophan. Unless you ate the entire turkey yourself, there is really not enough tryptophan in turkey to cause post-feast sleep. The real reason everyone is tired is because they have been dealing with food, family and football all day! Tryptophan is an essential amino acid and can be found in lots of foods, not just turkey.

Proper turkey thawing. I don’t care what anyone tells you: Do NOT thaw your turkey on the counter! It will take a long time (more than 2 hours) and parts of the defrosted bird will be in the TDZ (temperature danger zone) of 40° to 140°F for several hours allowing pathogenic bacteria to pick up where they left off before the freezing and grow to harmful levels! There is lots of bad advice out there, but I trust the USDA Poultry Preparation Consumer Guide and I recommend that everyone at least skim through it and try to follow their ultra-conservative guidelines.

Please turkey eaters, don’t think you are immune to food borne disease. I don’t care how clean your counter is, if you defrost all day on the counter-you could get people sick. Everyone always blames the manufactured retail food world for not being safe, but the retail market is one of the safest, its the home cooks, canners and chefs that cause the most gastrointestinal damage with careless behavior!Pop-up thermometers. I have no idea if they really work or not but considering that they are mass-produced and stuck into thousands of turkeys, chances are they are not the highest quality or most accurate meat thermometers on the market. If you rely on these pop ups, you risk undercooking (and making people sick) or overcooking (how embarrassing!) your turkey. I say, splurge on a good meat thermometer that will help you make a safe and delicious turkey!

I attended a foodbuzz event this year and they gave me a big schwag bag-and in that bag was a really nice thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of my bird. I have moved beyond the pop up, you should too!

Have a Happy and Safe Thanksgiving!

About Rachel Zemser