Make us your home page
Instagram

What kind of turkey should you buy for Thanksgiving? Here is a guide

iStockphoto

iStockphoto

Deciding what kind of turkey to buy is not as easy as it was once. As with most food products, there are infinitely more choices when it comes to choosing the star of your Thanksgiving table: organic, natural, heritage — not to mention fresh or frozen. Here is a quick guide to some of the definitions you should know.

Los Angeles Times

Free-range: This is a legal definition that requires that the birds be raised having access to the outdoors. There's a bit of wiggle room. They don't necessarily need to have access to pasture or grass, just the outdoors, which can mean dirt or gravel.

Fresh: Legally, it means that a turkey has not been chilled below 26 degrees. Practically speaking, though, a 26-degree turkey is still about as soft as a bowling ball.

Frozen: This means that the turkey has been chilled to 0 degrees. It should be noted that this doesn't necessarily mean an inferior bird. Properly frozen, stored and defrosted, it can be excellent. Keep in mind that a 12- to 14-pound turkey will take three to four days to thaw. Thaw the bird in its wrapping in the refrigerator, placing it on a tray or pan to contain any liquid that may drip from the bird. To thaw more quickly, submerge the bird in cold water and soak 6 to 8 hours, changing the water every 30 minutes.

Hard- or deep-chilled: An intermediate step that means the turkey has been chilled to between 0 and 26 degrees.

Hen: This is a female bird and they usually come in at less than 16 pounds.

Heritage: This is probably the hottest category among food lovers, but it is not legally regulated. Basically, it means anything but the standard turkey breed, which is the Broad-Breasted White. Heritage birds tend to be leaner, with less meat, which means they won't feed as many people and will dry out if not cooked carefully. They also have a gamier flavor, which is appreciated by some but not everyone.

Kosher: Turkeys that have been slaughtered and cleaned in accordance with kosher law. Note that while they have been briefly salted to draw out any remaining blood, this is not the same as brining. There is lots of confusion about this, but koshering requires salting for only one hour before rinsing, which is not at all the same as brining for several days.

Natural: Basically no added ingredients and only minimal processing — no injecting flavors or brining.

Organic: Turkeys that have been raised without hormones and steroids and have been processed without preservatives. In addition, they have been fed only organic feed and have ready access to the outdoors.

Pastured: This is a nonregulated definition that is kind of like free-range-plus, as the birds have had access to grass.

Self-basting: These are the familiar supermarket turkeys that have been injected with flavor solution or brine to keep them from drying out.

Tom: This is a male turkey, which usually means it weighs more than 18 pounds.

What kind of turkey should you buy for Thanksgiving? Here is a guide 11/14/16 [Last modified: Monday, November 14, 2016 4:17pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Hernando Events for May 26-June 1

    Events

    Events

    26 Friday

    Free Zika training: Presented by the Hernando Computer Club, the training is for those who wish to assist in the effort to find a cure for the Zika virus. Club members are volunteers for World Community Grid and are donating their devices' spare computing power to …

  2. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for May 24

    Events

    Damien Escobar: The acclaimed hip-hop violinist who has played for presidents tours in support of the album Boundless. 7:30 p.m., Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $35-$45. (727) 791-7400.

    HOUSTON, TX - FEBRUARY 03:  Recording artist Damien Escobar performs onstage during the BET Presents Super Bowl Gospel Celebration at Lakewood Church on February 3, 2017 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images for BET)
  3. The new 'Baywatch' movie is basically about hot people in swimsuits

    Movies

    Baywatch is a running gag in slow motion, a thong-in-cheek TV retread swapping wholesome jiggles for dirty giggles. There are places for such humor but beaches don't have gutters.

    Kelly Rohrbach as CJ Parker, Alexandra Daddario as Summer, Ilfenesh Hadera as Stephanie Holden, Dwayne Johnson as Mitch Buchannon, Zac Efron as Matt Brody and Jon Bass as Ronnie in the film, "Baywatch."
  4. Think we're loco? The most unlikely Phil Collins soundtrack hit of the '80s

    Blogs

    Phil Collins was on the level of Kenny Loggins for soundtrack supremacy, but Collins wasn't content to stay in the background as he jumped back into acting with the movie Buster that spawned a solid soundtrack that included hidden gems like Loco In Acapulco by the Four Tops.

  5. Wine of the Week: Mark West Black Pinot Noir Monterey County 2015

    Bars & Spirits

    Mark West Pinot Noir, with its cheerful yellow label and thrifty price point, has long been a favorite of folks looking for a reliably drinkable, well-priced red.