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Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

Posted by cocaty (My Page) on
Sat, Nov 10, 12 at 22:15

I always thought it was but now I'm reading sites that indicate it is not necessary to rinse the bird. What say you experts?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

You did specify experts, but I'll put my 2¢ worth in the pot anyway. I always heard to rinse it. I imagine you wouldn't HAVE to, but I can't see myself not rinsing any poultry, then pat it dry with paper towels. Well not dry but pat off the excess moisture anyway. Then get those towels, the wrapper and stuff into the garbage and out of the kitchen and bleach the sink. I might be a bit paranoid about it, but I feel more comfortable this way.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

I haven't rinsed a turkey in 30 years and the whole family and I are still here. I don't think anyone has ever gotten sick from a a T-day meal either, so that's good enough for me. Some cooks are particular about that rinsing thing and that's fine with me.

However, if I had a bloody, fresh bird, I would rinse it. All my turkeys though have been rather antiseptic looking, even raw.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

I know I am likely spreading "raw poultry cooties" all over my kitchen, but I always rinse the bird.
There have been too many times I have found bits of lung, a little intestine....and even once the heart still attached to the wall of the cavity.
I rinse my turkey, and rub the skin well and pat it dry with paper towels.

Not too many years ago, a turkey came with fuzz that had to be singed off and all sorts of pin feathers. I always kept a pair of "pin feather tweezers" in my kitchen drawer. Why are there no more pin feathers? not that i miss them!!


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

I rinse and pat dry. And then I hose the sink and counters with bleach.

E


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

The USDA no longer recommends rinsing poultry. BUT, I rinse whole poultry for the same reasons Lindac mentioned - when/if I need to finish the poultry-picking job. Rinsing or soaking poultry doesn't destroy bacteria, and any and all handling of raw meat is a "cootie" concern, whether you rinse or not. Only cooking will destroy any bacteria that might be present on the raw poultry.

There are far more bacteria on the skin of poultry than is present on skinless muscle meat. You can read the details in "On Food and Cooking - the Science and Lore of the Kitchen" by Harold McGee (pg 100-101).

Keep a quart spritz bottle filled with water and 1-teaspoon of bleach in it as a sanitizer to use frequently during food prep. to take care of "cooties" and help prevent cross-contamination. And don't forget to wipe down the handles on your refrigerator - a prime "cootie" site.

-Grainlady


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

I read recently that scientists tested & a rinsed bird actually has more bacteria than non-rinsed. Of course, I know enough not to believe everything I read, so take that with a grain of salt. It makes me feel better to rinse though :)


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

I always rinse poultry. I used to bleach the sink and counter, but now I use disinfectant wipes. Much more convenient. I use the Clorox orange ones only in the kitchen, so there's no smell that reminds me of bathroom disinfectants.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

Not only that I don't rinse the turkey I don't even take it out of the plastic bag.

Last year, turkey was $0.30 a lb. I bought two 18-lb birds. Sous vide cooked them directly from frozen right in the bag.

Of course there was no skill required to cook perfect turky in a sous vide cooker.

dcarch


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

Honestly, that's the least-appetizing cooked turkey I've ever seen.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

You are absolutely correct, dreadful looking roasted turkey for a Thanksgiving table.

No that is not a roasted turkey. That was straightly for turkey meat for sandwiches, turkey salad, everything else which does not require turkey skin.

The picture shows all the meat was saved and the bones were ready for soup.

I found a vacuum packed portion of breast meat in the freezer one year later, sous vided it at 150F again. It was just as juicy and tender as when it was first cooked at 150F.

A great way to use turkey at $0.30 a lb and not having to buy cold cuts.

dcarch


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

Turkey....cooked with the little bag of heart, gizzard and liver inside.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

I frequently avoid opening dcarch's posts and these pics pretty much sum up why. That said, I'm married to an engineer so I'm somewhat familiar with the thought process...

Gone appetite


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

How does a frozen turkey cooked at 150 degrees not spoil before it is cooked and is 150 degrees even hot enough to kill the bacteria...poultry needs to be 165 degrees to kill bacteria according to what I've found.

That being said, I don't rinse the turkey anymore after people were attacking me for saying I did because you are spreading germs everywhere when you rinse poultry. Who knew? I did the research myself and did find they suggest not to rinse as the heat will kill any bacteria and the water used isn't going to help.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

LindaC, "Turkey....cooked with the little bag of heart, gizzard and liver inside."

Yes, and that did not effect or affect the taste.

Seagrass, I can understand. It was a little messy to completely remove the meat from the bones and cleanly remove all the skin and fat. But such 100% perfect meat is well worth the effort. Otherwise, buying store turkey cold cuts is an option.

arkansas_girl, that is a very good question. Everyone should do your own determination as to safe food temperature for all meats. Never try to base on one single source of information from any expert.

To answer your questions:

a. Safe cooking temperature is time dependent. At 165F, food is safe for consumption immediately, but if you cook the food longer, it will be safe at lower temperatures. There are charts out there on the WEB you can go by.

b. To cook a turkey directly from frozen, IMHO, is safer than thawing your bird for almost a whole week in the refrigerator, or a whole day at room temperature. In this method, the meat goes from frozen to cooking temperature significantly shorter.

Couple of things: In one picture above, that little thin spoon is a bone marrow spoon. Good tasty bone marrow in those big bones after making soup.

As we all know, even at very safe cooking temperature poultry bones are still kind of bloody, that can be an issue for many people, as a result, you overcook to try to avoid that, and ending up with somewhat dry meat. By removing the meat from the bones, you minimize that issue.

Back on topic: For the purpose of 100% perfect turkey meat, this unusual methods is 100% no sanitizing cleanup either before or after.

dcarch


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

I do want to clear up one point to avoid offending anyone.

I said a few times that I make 100% perfect turkey meat. I don't mean to imply that I am very skillful.

I did say in my first post that in this method 100% perfect meat involves no skill, it is all simple digital electronics. You guys are a lot more skillful in making turkey than I am.

dcarch


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

dcarch, don't knock yourself, I get the impression that your food knowledge far exceeds most of the people here! Although a bit over the top or unorthodox? You appear to be the local food scientist...HA! The Mad Food Scientist? HEEHEE!


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

dcarch, I have to tell you that's the most unappetizing turkey I've ever seen. I'm not so picky about crispy skin since I peel the stuff off and never eat it and I mostly roast in the Nesco, but that looks pale and flabby. I'm sure it was nicely moist and well cooked and in a sandwich/etc. it wouldn't be noticed, but I'd KNOW, LOL.

and 30 cents a pound? Here the cheap store birds are $1.49 this year, although Gordon Food Service is having a sale for 49 cents a pound if you buy $25.00 worth of other stuff. That's the cheapest I've seen it. The local birds are $50 each for a turkey about 25 pounds after being dressed so that's $2 a pound but it's pasture raised and antibiotic free heritage turkey from a local Amish farm, last year they raised Bourbon Red.

I rinse the turkey for the same reason Grainlady and LindaC do, there are always bits of lung and such still in the turkey, Commercial ones are mechanically cleaned and it doesn't get everything and even the locally available turkeys from small farms get done by dozens (instead of tens of thousands) and aren't always cleaned to my standards. Because I do pluck and clean my own poultry, I know how it want it done and what's still in there. Since I stuff the bird, I want all that stuff out. And I also do the bleach in a spray bottle thing, I can't help myself.

Next year I think I'm raising turkeys, we'll see how much rinsing I have to do on my own. I'm leaning toward Bourbon Red but might get some Narragansett. My nephew wants a Royal Palm, which are beautiful birds but pretty much like peacocks, for decoration only,not much good for the table.

Annie


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

Dc, while the before pictures are unappetizing, I imagine sliced and on a sandwich it is the same as any deli turkey, so good for you!
But, it's no fun! Cooking to me is all about aromas, checking the oven, dogs sniffing the air, stirring, tasting while cooking....and using pretty pots....


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

I would never serve that turkey on the Thanksgiving table. I use a completely different method to sous vide a turkey for presentation on the TG dinner table.

This proves my belief that presentation is so important to the eating enjoyment. A turkey done this way is a lot more tasty than the typical roasting of a turkey at 500F with a lot of the meat cooked to 212F to get to internal temperature of 165F, yet this way the turkey appears to be unappetizing.

I have linked below a chart showing at 150F all you need is 10 minutes for the chicken to be as safe for eating as at 165F. And if you like, you can even cook the chicken at 140F for 35 minutes.

Besides truly juicy tender meat, the other benefit in low temperature cooking is meat shrinkage is a lot less. More meat for your money. Less shrinkage = more juice in meat.

dcarch

Here is a link that might be useful: Poultry Temp chart


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

You could though, unwrap the turkey and season it all up and still do that slow form of cooking...nothing says you have to start with an uncleaned, wrapped up frozen turkey like that. You could them stick it in the oven and put a brown on it quickly...right? I think my husband would absolutely love a turkey fixed like that...as it is, he hates turkey.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

dcarch, I'd still know that it was cooked to only 150 with all the "stuff" still in it, and wrapped in plastic that may or may not be safe but is certainly not meant to be cooked in and not seasoned at all.

Sorry, I still wouldn't eat it, but have no problem at all with you enjoying it.

Annie


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

Sorry dcarch but I 100% agree with Annie. I could not eat that nor serve it to anyone. It doesn't even looked cooked.


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It still just doesn't make any sense that could possibly be safe...I mean how many days does that thing sit in that ice chest cooking contraption until it's finally cooked? People have a d*m cow if someone leaves turkey sitting out in the stove top for more than a couple hours they start to panic like they are going to die from it...HAHA!


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

Perhaps I am confusing everyone:

Again, as I have said a few times, that turkey was not used for serving on a thanksgiving dinner table. It was straightly used for saving the meat for other recipes, therefore not overcooking was important.

I did't worry about the plastic because I assume it was to be used for food. Furthermore the cooking temperature was relatively low and chemical reactions are much lower at lower temperatures. Based on my observation, that plastic was actually of the heat shrink type, which was to be used for much higher temperature. In any case, if there was any chemical at all leaking, it would still be OK because the skin of the turkey was not to be used.

As to the cooking temperature, I am not going to challenge the chart I linked, which I believe is well established. I can't recall exactly how long the bird was in the cooker, definitely not for a few days, although at 150F it would have been safe for a few days. It is not uncommon for many sous vide recipes for food to be in even lower temperature, say at 120F, for 72 hours.

I agree it does not look as cooked as turkey cooked at much higher temperature, and that may not be acceptable to whoever is not used to having seen turkey meat cooked at that temperature. Aesthetics and food safety are not always related issues.

For turkey to be served on a Thanksgiving dinner table, this was what I made.

dcarch


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

I'm not confused at all. I would not cook a whole turkey in a plastic bag that it came in with the bag including the liver, giblets, etc.

If you are happy doing that, fine. BUT there is no way I would do that and serve it to my family and friends.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

"---If you are happy doing that, fine. BUT there is no way I would do that and serve it to my family and friends. "

Thank you for your understanding, as I am not here to preach or to convince anyone else to do things my way, and I do recognize the fact that many of my ways are far from being typical.

dcarch


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

OK, I'm not seeing how rinsing your poultry will spread bacteria "all over your kitchen". I put mine in the sink and run cold water through it, not sit it on the floor and spray it with a pressure washer... Is it really that difficult to wash your sink afterwards?

There was a thread over on the Kitchen Forum a week or two back about the use of bleach to clean kitchen surfaces, and it was brought up that chlorine bleach takes several minutes of direct contact with bacteria to kill it. Mere wiping with a bleachy cloth does not provide the necessary residence time to disinfect. I've always been a big believer in the efficacy of soap and water. When used in my sink, does a pretty good job of washing the "cooties" down the drain.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

cooksnsews, I also don't believe that rinsing a bird will spread "bacteria all over your kitchen", unless you're giving it a shower, LOL.

I put mine in the sink, run cold water into the cavity, drain it and remove any bits, rinse again. Then I do whatever with the bird, wash my hands and give the sink a wash with soap, a rinse and then a spray of bleach solution which I do not rinse away or dry. It dries by itself as it's a light mist, not a heavy stream.

dcarch, even if I thought cooking in the plastic wrapping was safe, (and remember, there's a difference between food safe and safe for cooking) the bird is still not seasoned. Yes, I know you can salt and pepper it after cooking but you just basically boiled/poached a plain unseasoned turkey.

Annie


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

I maybe crazy, but that plastic bag doesn't seem to me that it was ever designed for cooking a turkey in....I'm going to contact butterball when I get a chance and see what they say....it may be perfectly fine, but it sure doesn't feel fine.

I'm not concerned about the look of the turkey though...a poached chicken can look pretty sick too, but it makes for great salads and such.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

It is not necessary. I understand about wanting to remove the organ bits from the inside and if that is important to you, go ahead and rinse. I don't mind the organ bits if the poultry is organic or raised on a small farm. I would not eat the liver from a commercially raised bird.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

OK I understand that you keep saying that 150 degrees kills bacteria as long as it cooks for a certain amount of time is then safe...what I don't think you are getting is that during this cooking process, this bird will be at UNSAFE temperatures for very many hours and should...if we believe what we are told...SPOIL! I mean, how many hours can a bird be at 80 degrees before it becomes unsafe? If we are to believe this is a safe way to prepare poultry then you must throw out everything we've been told about unsafe food temperatures. It would appear that we could safely leave a turkey sitting out pretty much all day at room temperature as long as we would later cook it to 150 degrees for 4 hours?


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

And I may be crazy, but it's the cooking method that concerns me most. Sous vide, by name and definition calls for air to be removed from the packaging so that the product is in direct contact with a precisely regulated water bath.

The chart that dcarch linked appears valid, but it only tells part of the story. Other critical factors for determining how long the food needs to cook - start to finish - in order to be safe include start temperature, thickness of the meat, etc. My understanding is that for a home cook in particular, it's critical that the meat reaches the target temperature within four hours. So while you can reference charts that will tell you that a two inch thick turkey breast cooked at 150 deg F is ready in 2.5 hours, they are based on the assumption that the breast is fully surrounded by a regulated water bath. Now if the inside of that breast is exposed to stagnant air the whole time - cold air, at that - those figures go out the window. Not to mention the buffer of the frozen thigh and leg tucked up against the breast. And not to mention the gizzards floating around that probably never get cooked. What's next, put a turkey in an oven bag and toss it in your warming drawer? No thanks.

I'd certainly be open to trying sous vide turkey, but not cooked like that. Offhand I cannot find one recipe or method online for cooking turkey sous vide that does not involve breaking down the bird and packaging the parts separately. I'd stick with that.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

The kitchen police who found the bacteria all over the kitchen, I am sure were policing the kitchen of someone who rinsed the bird in the sink, wiped the sink with a sponge and then proceeded to wipe down the rest of the counters with that sponge.

I have never cooked a turkey from a small organic grower, but sure have eaten chickens. And have found lots of bits of lung blood vessels and even once the heart.

Anyone else remember a few years back when some TV cook came out with the idea to cook your turkey at 225 and put it in the oven before you went to bed and a 16 pound turkey would be ready to eat at noon. But there were experts who said that a cold turkey in a 225 degree oven wouldn't get hot enough soon enough to prevent dangerous toxins from the bacteria growing before it got hot enough to kill them.

When I cook for others I am more concerned with the food being safe to eat than artfully arranged.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

Dcarch, are you sorry you posted that picture yet? :-)

I found it amusing after seeing all the drop dead gorgeous plates of food you've posted pictures of over the years.
I'm intrigued, and I think it's pretty creative. If I could cook turkey efficiently and perfectly and that easily for $.30 a pound, you can bet your boots I'd have a freezer full as well! Our prices are nowhere near that, not even after the holidays.

That said, I'm also a compulsive rinser-of-poultry. It's not so much the bacteria on the skin that I'm after as the unnamed little bits of crud that dot the surface and the innards. I rinse the cavity out well, removing any stray bits, and pat the skin dry. Then I bleach up thoroughly afterwards.

Cj


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

I do wash any whole birds and clean out the little gutsy pieces still trapped in the bony part of the cavity. I use what is designated in our house as the poultry bucket partially filled with cold water. After cleaning, I put the bird in the pan, pour the water in the bucket down the toilet, add some bleach to the bucket and refill with water. I let it stand for about 10 minutes, empty, and it's ready for the next time. No contamination to worry about.

I don't rise cut-up poultry before cooking.

I don't have a sous vide cooker so am not hopping into that discussion.

One thing I have always found to be curious about turkeys is why people don't cut them up and roast the breasts for a shorter time than the legs and thighs. It seems so sensible but guess it wouldn't give that five minute Norman Rockwell moment before carving.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

I am at work so I will be brief.

It all has to do with thermodynamics.

A cubic foot of air can hold 0.018 BTUs, and a cubic foot of water holds 62.43 BTUs, therefore water has 3,468 times more heat to heat up your food. Based on static conditions.

In a sous vide cooker, very hot water is constantly circulated, which make heat conduction infinitely more efficient than a cold turkey in cold static air, 10,000 times better than static air perhaps?

This means in a hot circulating water sous vide cooker, the cold turkey will be spending much short time in the temperature danger zone comparing to any other methods of cooking the turkey. (except microwave).

Regarding possible poison in the plastic, I am assuming the plastic was food grade, under 150F condition, any poison would be leaked into the outside circulating water, which was not part of the food, any small amount of poison inside would be on the thick skin, which was discarded.

FOAS, there is no air pocket in a frozen turkey. See picture of a saw cut frozen turkey.

dcarch


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

Interesting. So I'm thinking there's even less chance of getting it up to temp within the recommended four hours?


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

FOAS, try this:

18 lbs of ice in 150F rapidly circulating hot water with a 500W heater and see if that take more than 4 hours.

Then try this:

18 lbs of ice in still air room temperature and how long it takes for the entire bag of ice to melt and reach room temperature, then have that 18 lbs of room temperature water reach 150F.

And then tell me which one is a better method.

dcarch


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

Obviously I don't need to do the experiment to know the answer. My concern is cooking that fat bird safely, not just getting it from X degrees to Y degrees. Now that you've shown it's a solid mass I'm even more concerned. According to "the charts" a 4.5 inch sphere of meat will take 9 hours to heat from 0 deg to within one degree of the final sous vide temp. Your turkey is a much bigger sphere.

That same 18 pound turkey, properly thawed, would roast in an oven in about 3 hours, or cut up and cooked sous vide would cook in about 2.5 hours. To me, intuitively at least, either of these two options would seem safer. Of course I could be wrong, and I'm sure you'll tell me I am!


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

The point to remember is the so called "safe zone" is from 40F to 140F for less than 4 hours at each point,
Not from 0F to 150F at all points for the entire bird.

Another point to consider is that 40F is not totally safe in your refrigerator, it depends on how long. Food goes moldy and meat goes funky in the refrigerator. I don't know if it is safer to thaw a frozen turkey in a refrigerator for a few days vs thawing in a hot 150F water for a just few hours.

dcarch


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

I do see your point, makes sense, thanks.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

So I called the butterball turkey hotline. The nice lady I talked to said she never heard of anyone cooking the bird in the plastic and it is definitely not a recommended cooking technique. She said there is a bird that is designed to cook in a plastic bag, but it is a bag that is specifically designed for high heat baking, something the grocery store bag is not. I asked about the bag around the giblets and she said that is not a problem as it is designed to be cooked in that bag if desired....but the issue was the plastic bag on the outside.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

AnnieD, did you tell her that it was cooked in a sous vide cooker, not an oven?


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

I am not sure any seller will be on record telling you to do what I had done.
That is a very predictable answer you will get, from someone who most likely has no knowledge of sous vide cooking. Also I am not sure the nice lady understood totally the exact condition of what I had done. I will never cook with that plastic in a 400F oven. 150F is a relatively low temperature for plastics. I seem to remember that food grade plastics are rated to 212F.

The moral of the story: Don't do it if you are not comfortable with this once a year crazy idea.

For fun, watch these two videos. It seems to me that his plastic used was not even food grade.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0WniZ1ly5Ik

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neqq8imstlc&feature=relmfu

dcarch


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

Once a year crazy idea or not, at 30¢/# a lot of people should take advantage of it more than once a year AFAIC.

Sous vide is something that interests me, but I don't understand it. I appreciate the info so thanks. I also didn't understand that it could be done in a cooler. More and more interesting.

The only point I have to take issue with is the 18# of ice sitting on the counter. For the analogy, shouldn't it be put in a preheated 150° oven for a proper comparison? The idea was a waterbath cooking vs air "bath" cooking.

Funny thing, nothing in the pictures or conversation made me go "erp" until someone mentioned Butterball! I felt chunks form at the back of my throat at that thought! I just don't like the injected ones.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

no I didn't but she didn't mention any cooking technique as appropriate in the provided plastic bag....


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

Well Cynic if my eyes are correct, the turkey he has in the cooler is a Shady Brooks Farm turkey and it is injected with I don't know what. I bought a breast one time and it was loaded with sodium and tasted like fake meat. I found out why it was so cheap.

Sorry to sound so negative but this whole way of cooking (sous vide), in the bag with another bag inside with the giblets and liver, in an ice chest for hours on in does not appeal to me at all nor would it to any of my friends or family.

I'm always willing to try different recipes, ingredients, etc. This is just too far out there IMHO.

Sorry Dcarch.


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RE: Is it necessary to rinse the turkey?

"----I'm always willing to try different recipes, ingredients, etc. This is just too far out there IMHO.
Sorry Dcarch."

No problem dixiedog. I am not here to promote or defend the sous vide method. It is already a well establish excellent way of cooking.

cynic, sous vide is an unfortunate fancy name. It is nothing more than cooking in a water oven with precision temperature control. Yes, It was a Manger's Special sale for $0.30 a lb. Comparing it with $7.00 a lb turkey lunch meat, which was what I was making, it was a fantastic bargain.

dcarch


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