Skills: Purchasing Turkey
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Okay, last week I bombarded you with lots of information about turkeys.  The feedback I got was great, except that I threw way to much information out at one time, so I am going to take a step back and be a little more thorough with each bit of information.  So, letís talk about choosing the right turkey for your holiday feast.  Next week I will talk more about cooking it.

  • First you have to decide on the number of people you are preparing to cook for. If you are cooking for two, consider trying Rock Cornish game hens.  They are in the frozen meat department at most groceries and are a fun alternative to a turkey that may be too large for a few.  Otherwise, plan on 1# of turkey per person.  More if you want leftovers.  So if you are feeding 10 people, you need the minimum of a 10# turkey.  I personally like leftovers and have information  covering the topic of what to do with turkey leftovers on the Nov. 28, 2005 and Nov. 20, 2006 shows that you can access from the Cooking Show Index.

  • The next decision to make is what kind of turkey to purchase. 

  • There are organically raised turkeys which have been raise eating organic grains free of pesticides, herbicides, growth hormones, antibiotics and GMOís.  Often they are pastured so they have access to fresh air, sunshine and green grass.  These turkeys are not injected with vaccines or a sodium solution and are not harvested w/high pressure chlorine spray. That sounds really good to me and this is the type of turkey I buy. 

  • Another kind of turkey available is naturally raised.  The truth in labeling laws say that if you arenít certified organic, you canít say organically raised, so, though the turkey may have be ďnaturallyĒ raised, similarly to the organic turkey, they  canít boast of the quality that organic is, but still has none of the chemical additives, hormones, antibiotics, vaccines, etc. as the mass produced turkeys do.

  • Fresh turkey vs. frozen turkey- fresh generally costs more, you have to purchase it closer to the day you plan on cooking it, BUT the taste is far superior to frozen. Fresh turkeys can be stored for up to 2 days in the coldest part of the refrigerator. When storing fresh turkey, be sure to remove the giblets and store separately. You can get fresh turkeys at most grocery stores. If you buy a frozen turkey, it requires one day per 5 pounds to thaw in the refrigerator and thawing in a cold water bath takes 30 minutes per pound.

  • Self-basting turkey- The components that go into the self-basting solution vary from company to company, and are listed on the labels of these turkeys. Expect to see ingredients as simple as turkey broth and as questionable as emulsifiers and artificial flavors. While the turkey may be extremely juicy, they may have many off and unnatural flavors. This type of turkey is the most available to consumers. What I am skeptical about in the addition of flavors to the turkey.  If you have to add flavorings to something, does that mean that it doesnít taste very good on its own?  By now, some of you know my feelings about what one eats.  I work hard at staying away from over processed foods as much as possible.  If you are going to spend hours working on a great meal for the holidays, why not start with a great turkey for that meal?!

  •  Which ever kind of turkey you choose, choose a bird with smooth, creamy, soft skin, avoiding turkeys with any bruised or torn skin.  



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