This time of year I get tons of turkey questions. Some of the questions are really good, and others are downright entertaining. I’ll share the questions and answers here.
Question: I have a frozen turkey left from Thanksgiving last year. How long can you store a frozen turkey in the freezer and it still be good?
Answer: A turkey that has remained frozen continuously will be safe to eat indefinitely. However, bird’s quality may have diminished. Experts suggest that a frozen whole turkey be stored for up to 12 months without compromising quality. If you are considering using a year-old frozen turkey as the centerpiece of a holiday meal, I suggest using the existing turkey as an ingredient in soups or other dishes and purchasing a newer turkey to serve to your guests. By the time it’s thawed and you can assess any possible freezer burn or other quality issues, it may be too late to buy and thaw another bird in time for the holiday.
Question: I’m leaving town 10 days before Thanksgiving and won’t be back for over a week. Can I put my 20-pound turkey in the refrigerator to thaw while I’m gone?
Answer: No. After the turkey has thawed, it must be cooked within 1 to 2 days. It will take a 20-pound bird four to five days to thaw in the refrigerator (24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey). If you start thawing upon leaving town you will be way beyond that window. Put the turkey in the refrigerator upon returning home. If the turkey doesn’t thaw completely by Thanksgiving you can finish up thawing using a cold water bath. You might also consider baking the turkey from the frozen state. It will take at least 50% longer than a fully thawed turkey (which will be a really long time for a 20-pound bird), but you won’t have to worry with the thawing time.