Thanksgiving will soon be here. And for those responsible for the Thanksgiving feast, preparations are made far ahead of time to get the food on the table.
There are always questions when it comes to purchasing the turkey for the big day. And there are plenty of options for turkey available in every grocery store. It can sometimes be overwhelming for shoppers to know what the best choice is for their family’s table.
Here are some pointers to keep in mind when making your plans for buying and handling a turkey:
• One pound of turkey equals one person at the table. So if you expect 10 guests for your Thanksgiving meal, purchase a 10 pound bird. But if you’d like extra turkey for sandwiches, consider a 12 pound bird.
• What qualities make a good turkey? The wrapper should be clean and intact (absolutely no rips or tears.) And, if you are buying a frozen turkey, it should be frozen completely rock solid.
• There should also be no signs that the bird has thawed and refrozen. To find signs of refreezing, look for frozen flat spots on the bird, or pooled and frozen liquids.
• How far ahead can I purchase a fresh turkey? Look for a “use by” date on the product. If there is not one, use the fresh turkey within two days of purchase.
• What about those frozen stuffed turkeys that can go directly into the oven? Specialized products yield excellent results, but the directions should be followed exactly for safe results and for expected results. If you don’t like the idea of salmonella in your sink while thawing a traditional frozen turkey, then a specialty product might be a better option for you. However, be aware that you must allow ample time for frozen products to cook properly. And, hand washing and counter top disinfectant is still a necessary practice.
• How long will a frozen turkey stay in good condition in the freezer? Up to 12 months minimum. So buy an extra turkey while they are on sale and put one in your freezer if you have room. When the holidays are long gone, but the weather is still cold, you will have a great meal waiting (and for only pennies.) Your pocketbook and your taste buds with thank you for it.
• How much time should I allow for frozen turkey to completely thaw? For traditional turkeys, the tastiest bird results when you have thawed it 100 percent before roasting. If you are frying your turkey, it is essential for safety that the bird is completely thawed (oil boil overs can result from icy turkeys.) In the refrigerator, a turkey will thaw at a rate of five pounds per day. In the kitchen sink filled with cool water, a turkey will thaw at a rate of 1 pound per 30 minutes (change the water every 30 minutes.)
• What’s that recipe for homemade bleach sanitizer? Bleach water is excellent for killing the salmonella associated with poultry. You will need to wash, rinse, then sanitize any items that come into contact with raw turkey or turkey juices. Here’s the sanitizer recipe: 1 tablespoon regular bleach in 1 gallon lukewarm water. Allow items to remain submerged in the sink for 2 minutes and then air dry. If you want to make a one-quart squirt bottle (good for spritzing clean counters) you can mix 1 teaspoon bleach into 1 quart water.
For more information on turkey preparation, check out the Clemson University Home and Garden Information Center on the web or the easy turkey how-to’s at www.clemson.edu/hgic and look for fact sheet number 3560.