How Long to Thaw a Turkey

How long a turkey should be allowed to thaw before cooking and some safety tips for keep the turkey fresh until it is time for cooking.

Anyone that has cooked more than two turkeys has had a time when the bird just would not thaw on time. Turkeys are large birds with thick bodies. This means that when they are frozen, you have a large chunk of ice that you are trying to melt. On top of this, you have to worry about the turkey spoiling instead of thawing if you do it wrong. The best way to thaw a turkey is to just buy one that is already thawed or never frozen. These are hard to find and expensive to purchase.

You thaw turkeys by the calendar rather than by a clock. Plan on days not hours to thaw a turkey. We get used to chickens and small pieces of meat. These can be thawed quickly in a pinch. We can even put them in the microwave for a while if needed. None of this works on a turkey. That good looking twenty pound block of ice you purchased needs to thaw on its own schedule.

Begin the process by checking the weight of the turkey. Divide the number of pounds by 5 and this gives you the number of days that you need. For in between numbers, round up to the next whole day. For example, if the turkey weighs eighteen pounds, this would be more than three when divided by 5. So, you would plan to start the thawing process four days before the day it is to be cooked.

Always thaw a turkey in the refrigerator. If you keep your refrigerator cold enough to freeze you milk and eggs, you will need to add at least an extra day onto the thawing process or turn up the dial a little. At any rate, keep a thawing turkey at about 40 degrees or below to be safe.

Check the turkey the day before it is to be cooked to make sure that it feels like it is thawing. The breast and legs should be feeling soft and pliable. If they are still stiff, you may have a problem. You can do some last minute thawing in cool water, but it is a last resort. If you have doubts about how it is doing, remove the packaging and check it up close and personal. If it is not thawing, thaw it in water immediately before cooking.

Make sure to keep the bird cool until you start it cooking. You certainly do not want to feed a spoiled turkey to guests. This can make for an unhappy party.

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Published in: Cooking


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