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It’s Time to Think Turkey

It’s that time of year again. It’s time to think turkey. Next week is Thanksgiving, and many of us will be counting our blessings while enjoying giant birds with our family and friends.

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.

Being forewarned is being forearmed, so I decided to post the proper ways to thaw out 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. 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.

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