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Are You Defrosting Your Turkey Yet?

I’m posting this a day early in case some of you need this information in the planning of your Thanksgiving meal.

This Thanksgiving is unlike any other I’ve ever known. Big family dinners are going to be a rare thing for which we are warned against by our health officials. That leaves a great many of us celebrating at home on a small scale. My holiday celebration will be just my husband and me this year. Don’t worry, I’m still cooking a nice turkey dinner with all the fixings.

I’m an old pro at defrosting turkey. I always say I’ll use the refrigerator method, but I usually end up with my turkey in cold water a day or two before the big dinner. This year will be no problem. I have a small bird that I put in the refrigerator on Sunday. It will be defrosted in plenty of time.

If this is your first time cooking a turkey, you may not realize how much planning is involved. Most turkeys purchased from grocery stores are frozen. They don’t thaw quickly.

It takes several days to properly defrost a turkey in the refrigerator, which is my preferred method. I also use the cold water method if I’m in more of a hurry. I do not use the microwave method because it can start to cook the outside of the turkey before the inside is completely thawed, making the outside tough. No one wants a tough bird.

Being forewarned is being forearmed, so I decided to post the proper ways to defrost our favorite fall bird in order to have it ready to cook for your holiday meal.

There are three ways to safely defrost your turkey. For all methods listed, remove the giblets and neck from the turkey cavities after the bird is thawed and prior to cooking. They make good gravy if so desired.

Refrigerator Method: Keep the turkey in its original packaging. Place it in a shallow dish to catch juices. Place it in the refrigerator. I usually put it on the bottom shelf due to the weight. A defrosted raw turkey can be stored in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Defrosting Time (24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds) 4 to 12 pounds 1 to 3 days 12 to 16 pounds 3 to 4 days 16 to 20 pounds 4 to 5 days 20 to 24 pounds 5 to 6 days

Cold Water Method:

Wrap your turkey in plastic, so no water is able to seep through. Submerge the turkey in cold water. Completely change the water every 30 minutes. Cook the thawed turkey as soon as possible, but definitely within two days.

Defrosting time (30 minutes per pound) 4 to 12 pounds 2 to 6 hours 12 to 16 pounds 6 to 8 hours 16 to 20 pounds 8 to 10 hours 20 to 24 pounds 10 to 12 hours

Microwave Oven Method: Check your microwave’s owner’s manual for the instructions. Remove all outside wrapping. Place in a microwave-safe dish. Cook your turkey immediately after defrosting in the microwave. Again, I do not recommend this method, but if you’re between a rock and a hard place, it’ll work.

I hope you all stay safe and healthy. This year is full of challenges, but we’re all in it together. Let us count our blessings.

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