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Old 12-27-2005, 12:58 PM   #1
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Cooking turkey soup safely?

Happy Holidays All!

Just wanted to get opinions (facts) on cooking turkey soup at home safely. My understanding and experience shows that cooking the soup on the stove for about 4-6 hours and then cooling it properly (ice bath) keeps everything just right.

I have a friend who has been cooking the soup on lowest burner setting for over 24 hours now and who has suggested that keeping the soup at 140 degrees F is all that is needed. I disagree about the safety in this method as I think some bacteria(s), etc. can still form over this long cycle.

If the burner is turned off for 8 hours and the already heated soup is left covered in the pot, is their any risk of contamination?

Any and all input much appreciated. Trust you got everything you wanted from Santa this year.

Wudman

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Old 12-27-2005, 01:16 PM   #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawudman
Happy Holidays All!

Just wanted to get opinions (facts) on cooking turkey soup at home safely. My understanding and experience shows that cooking the soup on the stove for about 4-6 hours and then cooling it properly (ice bath) keeps everything just right.

This procedure does work well, preventing the growth of bacteria and the 'souring" of the soup due to a long cooldown cycle.

I have a friend who has been cooking the soup on lowest burner setting for over 24 hours now and who has suggested that keeping the soup at 140 degrees F is all that is needed. I disagree about the safety in this method as I think some bacteria(s), etc. can still form over this long cycle.

The food danger zone is considered to be between 40F and 140 F. In order to extract flavors from foods, I think a higher temp is better.

If the burner is turned off for 8 hours and the already heated soup is left covered in the pot, is their any risk of contamination?

This is a dangerous practice! As the food cools, bacteria can grow and taint the entire pot.

Any and all input much appreciated. Trust you got everything you wanted from Santa this year.

Wudman

The real question is, why are you cooking soup for such a long time? I could understand cooking bones to make stock for long periods, but soup is usually cooked in an already prepared stock and all you're doing is cooking small pieces of meat, a starch and veggies.
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Old 12-27-2005, 01:46 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M.
The real question is, why are you cooking soup for such a long time? I could understand cooking bones to make stock for long periods, but soup is usually cooked in an already prepared stock and all you're doing is cooking small pieces of meat, a starch and veggies.
My thoughts too Andy, I usually give my turkey soup for about 3 hours on the burner (adding things like rice during the last 30 minutes to help them stay in one piece), and then laddle it up or transfer it to a fridge-safe container (dont' store it in the pot, in the fridge, depedning on the type of pot that you are using the soup can pick up off flavours this way). If I wasn't going to eat it all within 2-3 days I would freeze it right away.

I know that many-a-cookbook I've read mentioned the authors having childhood memories of a soup pot that pretty much stayed on the back of the stove all the time, but I agree with Andy. Too low a heat and you run the risk of developing bacteria (and/or diminishing the lovely flavour of a turkey soup).
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Old 12-27-2005, 02:22 PM   #4
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I, for one would not eat any of this soup with it being kept on such a low temp for this long!!! I do the same way as Jessica does when cooking a turkey soup/stew.
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Old 12-27-2005, 05:34 PM   #5
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dawudman,

Your friend is likely correct in saying that the soup is safe if it's temp is held at 140 or above.

But if it's left in the pot to cool, without refrigeration, it is then susceptible to the harmful bacteria that will result in food poisoning, as Andy said.

And I, too, have the same question about the benefit of cooking a turkey soup as long as your friend, or for as long as YOU do, for that matter, Wudman! What are YOU doing over 4-6 hours?!

It takes me an hour and a half to 2 hours to make the stock, then another hour or so to cook the chopped fresh vegetables in that stock, adding the cooked turkey just at the end, to heat.

Lee
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Old 12-27-2005, 05:40 PM   #6
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Like to make soups and stocks, particularly stocks.

Take the turkey carcass, roast it with some veggies, make the stock.

Then, if I want a turkey soup, just add the veggies, meat, and, at the end, noodles.

Then I put the pot in the fridge on towels and stir every twenty minutes or so until cool, and then cover.

Never had a problem with this method.

It seems to take the soup through the danger zone rapidly.
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Old 12-27-2005, 05:41 PM   #7
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Thanks for the great input...

I haven't actually made a "stock soup" from carcass for many years but remember it taking around abouts 4-6 hours (probably due mainly to laziness more than any thing else...)

I usually work on onion soups or cream based delicacies...

I may stay clear of this particular attempt myself. It is still on the stove as I write this - measured temp a while back was 150 degrees but I know it sat without heat all last night.

Thanks again for all the great input... methinks the longer cooking time is actually draining flavour out gradually.

Wudman
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Old 12-27-2005, 05:46 PM   #8
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Sorry, but your friend is wrong.

Salmonella is killed at 165 degrees. Anything less than that is dangerous. Your friend is likely concocting a salmonella soup if it is does not reach 165.

Throw yours out. It's not safe to eat.

And I agree with the others ... 2 - 3 hours is enough, IMO
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Old 12-27-2005, 06:31 PM   #9
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There are two different threats to worry about when food is left in the "Danger Zone" of temperatures (between 40F and 140F) for to long. Those two dangers are Infection, and Intoxication. Infection is when there is enough bacteria present to cause an infection in your body. Intoxication is when the toxic by-products of bacteria growing in food are strong enough to affect your body chemistry, possibly poisoning you, i.e., yeast fermenting sugar into alcohol, and botulism producing the toxin that produces the Tetanus toxin.

Many of the "uninitiated" in professional cooking will assume that even if food is left at an unsafe temperature for to long, if you reheat it to a high enough temperature, you kill all the bacteria present. While this is technically true, you could still have a "toxic" food, depending on the bacteria present.

I can't remember what it is, but there is even one bacterium that is not only infectious, but toxic as well.

I make A LOT of stock at home. I usually go through several gallons of chicken stock in a year, and maybe a gallon of beef stock. I always maintain my stocks at a low simmer or poach while I'm extracting the flavors and gelatin. After I strain the stock, I bring it to a rolling boil to reduce it by half, to save on space in the freezer.

When I chill my stock, I plug my sink, and place a cake rack on into the sink. I then place my stockpot onto the cake rack. Ice gets poured around the pot, and I fill the sink with enough cold water to that the water level is maybe an inch or so below the level of stock, so the pot doesn't float and capsize, ruining the stock. I also keep an empty 2-L pop bottle, label removed, around. I'll wash the outside of the bottle, dry it, then wrap in plastic wrap to keep it clean. I'll fill it with water, and freeze it the night before. When the stock goes into the ice bath, I'll place my impromtu "ice wand" into the stock. I can take about 2 gallons of stock from 200F to 40F in about 30 minutes. Then I pour the stock into ice cube trays and freeze it.

The cake rack works by allowing cold water to circulate under the pot, thereby cooling the stock on all sides and the bottom.

If you make a lot of soup, this is also the best way to cool the soup down fast. If you're making several gallons at once, and you have the room, you might even want to split it into a couple different pans and chill it that way, so it chills faster.
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Old 12-27-2005, 06:42 PM   #10
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My motto is, "If in doubt, toss it out." My daughter got food poisoning from a chopped steak at a local restaurant once, and I've never seen anything so pitiful. She was deathly ill for a week. I've always said of you think you might have food poisoning, you don't. If you have it, it will hit you like a Bradley tank, and you will have no doubt!

I cook my turkey carcass until everything has fallen off the bone, then strain it out (any meat and vegies left have all the goody sucked out of them, and are only good for dogfood.) I then boil it gently until reduced by half, let cool with the lid off for about an hour, and dip the stock up into ziplock bags and freeze for turning into soup later.

Auntdot, I've never tried roasting the vegies and carcass first, but I'm going to give that a try. I'll bet it adds a whole new depth of flavor to the broth.
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