It is almost that time of year again and you will start to see turkeys on sale in the next few weeks. If you choose to cook a frozen turkey for Thanksgiving, it must be thawed completely before cooking to achieve optimum results.Thawing your frozen Thanksgiving turkey will take hours, maybe even days, which means you must pay attention to the handling, storage, and thawing of your turkey.
Frozen turkey should be stored in the freezer until it is ready to be thawed. To speed the thawing process, remove the giblets from the body as soon as the turkey is thawed enough to do so.
Whenever handling raw turkey, whether it is frozen or not, make sure to wash your hands well with hot water and soap.
How to thaw your Thanksgiving turkey in the refrigerator:
- The most traditional way to defrost a turkey is in the refrigerator. It just requires a little pre-planning and refrigerator space.
- Your refrigerator's temperature should be no higher than 40*F.
- Allow 24 hours thawing time for every 5 pounds of turkey. A 15 pound turkey will need 3 days to thaw completely, a 20 pound turkey will need 4 days to thaw completely, and a 25 pound turkey will need 5 days to thaw completely.
- Place a plate or pan under the turkey turkey to catch any drippings.
How to thaw your Thanksgiving turkey in cold water:
- If you want to speed up the thawing process for your Thanksgiving turkey, the cold water method is an option. You need to allow at least 30 minutes per pound to thaw the turkey. A 15 pound turkey will take 7-1/2 hours to thaw, a 20 pound turkey will take 10 hours to thaw, and a 25 pound turkey will take 12-1/2 hours to thaw.
- Wrap the turkey in leak-proof packaging or the skin will become saturated with water.
- Place the turkey in cold water, using a plate or pot to keep it submerged.
- Change the water every 30 minutes until thawed.
- Turkeys thawed by the cold water method should be cooked immediately.
- Turkeys must be kept at a safe temperature during thawing. Harmful bacteria may begin to grow if the turkey is allowed to thaw at a temperature above 40ºF.
- Poultry thawing on the counter longer than 2 hours is not safe. Typically, the outer layer is defrosted quickly, putting it in the +40*F range where harmful bacteria grow, while its center remains frozen.
For more information contact the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline Toll Free at 1-800-535-4555 (Nationwide) or visit the SIS website.
Once your turkey is thawed and ready to cook, use this delicious simple recipe for oven roasted Thanksgiving turkey and gravy.
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