Turkey Tips for a Tasty and Safe Thanksgiving

November 23, 2015

Here's your holiday guide to buying a Turkey!

Thanksgiving is this week, and the average price of a fresh turkey has jumped as much as 15 to 20 percent this year due to the bird flu that killed nearly eight million turkeys.

Corinne Alexander of Purdue University said that grocery prices increased by only 0.8 percent from September 2014 to September 2015, which is lower than normal; so the rest of your thanksgiving wont have a huge increase. For turkeys, Alexander said the actual prices consumers will pay will vary. Affecting prices will be the differences between frozen and fresh turkeys, organic and nonorganic, brand names and the value of store coupons and price specials.

With Thanksgiving right around the corner here are some tips to navigate shopping for turkey day, given the challenges this year presents. 

How to shop for turkey? Look for whole turkeys that have a solid shape, look plump and have a rounded breast. Whether purchasing a whole turkey or turkey parts, the bird should feel pliable when gently pressed. If turkey has skin on it, it should be white in color and unblemished, without cuts or bruises. Also, check the sell by date.

If purchasing frozen turkey (which will be easier on your wallet!), make sure that it is frozen solid and does not have any ice deposits or freezer burn. Additionally, avoid frozen turkey that has frozen liquid in the package as this may indicate that it has been defrosted and refrozen. 

There are many turkeys to select from including humanely-raised, natural, free range and pastured, cage-free, kosher or organic. Read the labels carefully to ensure what you are buying.

Kosher turkeys are slaughtered and processing according to the kosher laws and are treated with salt. 

Self basting or basted turkeys are those which have been injected with a solution to make it more tender and flavorful. Read ingredients carefully as many of these solutions contain high amounts of sodium and some are loaded with artificial flavors.

Regardless of your cooking method, good food safety practices should always be followed:

Thawing a frozen turkey can take days. If you want to thaw your turkey in the refrigerator, you need to start days before cooking. Keep the turkey in its original wrapping and put it in a pan to catch the moisture. Allow 24 hours of thawing time for every 5 pounds of turkey. One of the good things about this method is that you can keep the defrosted turkey in the refrigerator for a day until it's time to roast.

Wash, wash, wash! Wash hands, cutting boards and any other surfaces that come in contact with the raw turkey, to eliminate any food safety risks. Always use a fresh cutting board and wipe down countertops before preparing any other food in the area.

Measure the internal temperature of your turkey with a food thermometer; the temperature should be 170 degrees F in the breast and 180 degrees F in the thigh, and make sure not to touch a bone, as this will produce a different reading. 

Fun fact for your Thanksgiving table!: Minnesota produces 46 million turkeys each year from its 450 turkey farms!!

SupermarketGuru hopes you have a wonderful, happy and healthy Thanksgiving!