Purchasing & preparing the turkey

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Turkey1By: Susan Jackson

The cold weather has arrived as we knew it would.  I enjoyed the many nice fall days. Fall and spring are when I just start to love Kansas and then winter or summer arrives.
The cold weather has encouraged me to think of the holidays that are soon to arrive.  If you are preparing the turkey, here are some guidelines to follow for a safe turkey.  If you are selecting a frozen turkey, you can purchase it early and have that off your checklist.
Be prepared! Before purchasing your turkey, make ample space in your refrigerator, moving shelves if necessary.
Fresh or frozen? There is no quality difference between a fresh or frozen turkey although fresh turkeys have shorter shelf lives. By purchasing a frozen turkey, you can get the turkey in advance and take advantage of special sales. Fresh turkeys provide convenience because they do not require thawing.
What size turkey do I need to buy? When purchasing a whole turkey, purchase at least one pound of uncooked turkey per person. You’ll have enough for the feast and for leftovers too.

When should I buy it? Keep in mind that a whole turkey takes about 24 hours per four to five pounds to thaw in the refrigerator. (For example: A 15-pound frozen bird will take 3 to 4 full days to thaw in the refrigerator.) Ideally, purchase your frozen turkey as far in advance as necessary to safely thaw it in the refrigerator. If buying a fresh turkey, purchase it only 1 to 2 days before the meal and keep it refrigerated.

Thawing and Handling ?Always wash hands with warm water and soap for 20 seconds before and after handling the turkey.

Never defrost turkey on the counter! Turkey can be thawed in the refrigerator or in cold water. The refrigerator method is the safest and will result in the best finished product. Leave the bird in the original packaging and place in a shallow pan and allow refrigerator thawing time at a rate of 4 to 5 pounds per 24 hours. To thaw in cold water, keep turkey in the original packaging, place in a clean and sanitized sink or pan and submerge in cold water. Change the cold water every 30 minutes. The turkey will take about 30 minutes per pound to thaw. Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze.

Now what? Once thawed, remove neck and giblets from the body cavities and keep bird and parts (if using) refrigerated at 40 °F or below until it is ready to be cooked.

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