Hot Dogs And You: Great Together, But…

With July 4th just around the corner, it’s likely that you and that all-American favorite, the hot dog, may be meeting soon!  There is really no other food group that completes the holiday for us guys.

But as with any food, there are always precautions you should take to stay healthy if you are doing the preparing. Here are some suggestions:

  • When you leave the grocery store with hot dogs, head straight home and refrigerate or freeze them immediately. If there is no product date, hot dogs can be safely stored in the unopened package for 2 weeks in the refrigerator; once opened, only 1 week. For maximum quality, freeze hot dogs no longer than 1 or 2 months. And, of course, never leave hot dogs at room temperature for more than 2 hours and no more than 1 hour when the temperature goes above 90° F.
  • The labeling on a package of hot dogs may contain one of several different types of dates. Product dating is voluntary and not required by federal regulations. If a date is used, it must also state what the date means.

“Sell By” date tells the store how long to display the product for sale. You should buy the product before the date expires.

Use By” date is the last date recommended for use of the product while at peak quality. This date has been determined by the manufacturer of the product.

“Best if Used By (or Before)” date helps consumers by stating a precise date for best flavor or quality.

“Expiration Date” helps stores and consumers by stating the shelf life or the last day the product should be used while it is wholesome.

  • After cooking hot dogs on the grill, keep them hot until served – at 140° F or warmer. Keep them hot by setting them to the side of the grill rack, not directly over the coals where they could overcook.  If you’re at home, they can be kept hot in an oven set at approximately 200° F, in a chafing dish, slow cooker, or on a warming tray.

And now that safety issues are out of the way, go for the finishing touch: toast your buns! Sure, you can plop that freshly grilled wiener between a couple of pasty-white hot dog buns, but why would you want to? So take advantage of that hot grill.

  • Turn off your gas grill. It should be plenty hot enough to toast up a couple of buns. If you’re serving a whole crew, keep it turned on low.
  • If you’re using a charcoal grill, scoot the coals to one side. Put the buns on the cool side.
  • Open up your buns, slather a little butter on them, and then place them face down on the grill. Close the lid so it warms the whole bun. Keep an eye on them – if your grill is really hot, they can burn quickly.
  • When they start to brown, rotate them 90°, then give them another 30 seconds or so. Don’t let them burn!


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