Posts Tagged ‘thawing foods’

Thanksgiving is exactly one week away!  If you are like me you have been watching the ads and searching for the best prices on a turkey. I plan to buy a whole bird for my family. If you choose to buy a frozen bird you may do that at any time, but make sure you have adequate storage space in your freezer. If you are buying a whole bird, it is recommended to buy one pound of turkey per person.

Here are some thawing  times and tips for you this Thanksgiving holiday:

In the refrigerator, place frozen bird in the original wrapper in the refrigerator ((40 °F or below ).  Allow approximately 24 hours per 4 to 5 pounds of turkey. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1-2 days.

In the   Refrigerator (40 °F or below)
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

If your forget to thaw your turkey or don’t have room in the refrigerator for thawing.. Don’t panic! You can submerge the turkey in cold water and change the water every 30 minutes. Allow about 30 minutes defrosting time per pound of turkey.Wrap your turkey securely, making sure the water is not able to leak through the wrapping.The following times are suggested for thawing turkey in water.

In Cold Water
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

Cook the turkey immediately after it is thawed. Do not refreeze.



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You are getting ready to prepare the Thanksgiving meal and it is the first time you have prepared a turkey.  Let’s talk about some of the questions you may have.

Question:  What is a safe way to thaw a turkey?

Answer:  The best way is to take your turkey from the freezer and put your frozen turkey in the refrigerator.  Allow 1 day for every 4-5 pounds of turkey.

Question:  How long is it going to take to fully cook my turkey?

Answer: At an oven temperature of 325 degrees F., it should take a whole turkey (unstuffed) 2 3/4 -3 hours for an 8 to 12 pound turkey; 3-3 3/4 hours for a 12 to 14 pound turkey; and 3 3/4-4 1/4 hours for a 14-18 pound turkey.  These times are approximate.  You should always check to see if the turkey has reached an internal temperature of 165 degrees F. by using a meat thermometer.

NOTE:  Don’t forget to remove the giblets from the inside cavity of your bird before roasting.

Question:  How long can I leave the turkey out after dinner before it spoils?

Answer:  It should not be out for more than 2 hours.  Take the turkey off the bones and refrigerate in small portions, or freeze the meat for later use.  This applies to the rest of your meal that is perishable as well.

For additional questions, call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at:  1-888-674-6854.  Or send an email to:  mphotline.fsis@usda.gov

Happy Thanksgiving!

Author:  Linnette Mizer Goard, Extension Educator, Family & Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension

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