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How to Thaw Turkey

© 2005 Peggy Trowbridge Filippone, licensed to About.com, Inc.
Learn how to safely thaw your frozen turkey to avoid the danger of foodborne illness.

Ingredients:

  • 1 frozen turkey

Preparation:

Although a whole turkey purchased frozen may safely be thawed in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave oven, thawing in the refrigerator is recommended. Procedures for all 3 methods of thawing follow.

To thaw turkey in the refrigerator:
Keep the turkey wrapped and place it in a pan; let stand about 24 hours for each 5 pounds of turkey. Let large turkeys stand a maximum of 5 days in the refrigerator. The giblets and neck are customarily packed in the neck and body cavities of frozen turkeys. They may be removed from the cavities near the end of the thawing period to expedite complete thawing of the bird. If desired, the giblets and neck may be refrigerated and reserved for use in Giblet Gravy.

To thaw turkey in cold water:
Make certain that the turkey is in a leakproof package or a zipper-seal plastic bag. This prevents bacteria in the surrounding environment from being introduced into the food, and prevents the poultry tissues from absorbing water, resulting in a watery product. Change the cold water every 30 minutes. Approximately 30 minutes per pound of turkey are required for thawing. After thawing in cold water, the turkey should be cooked immediately.

To thaw in the microwave:
Before commencing to thaw food in the microwave oven, remove the food from its store wrap. Plastic trays, paper wrapping, and other packaging material not designed for microwaving may contain chemicals which could transfer to the food under the high heat of a microwave oven.

Consult the manufacturer's instructions for the size turkey that will fit into your oven, the minutes per pound and power level to use for thawing. Turkeys thawed in the microwave must be cooked immediately after thawing.

Do not use the microwave oven for cooking whole, stuffed poultry. Poultry bones and density of the stuffing (dressing) prevent even and thorough cooking.

To refrigerate fresh turkey:
A whole turkey purchased fresh (not frozen) may safely be refrigerated up to 2 days before roasting.

Click here for how to roast turkey recipe.

Source: Blue Ribbon Country Cookbook by Diane Roupe (Crown Pub)
Reprinted with permission.

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