Don't Be a Turkey with Food Safety!
We're just six days away from Thanksgiving. Is your turkey still in the deep freeze? Here are some tips for safe thawing (and a couple of things you should NEVER do).
1) The fridge is the best and most straightforward method, but it does take the longest. Keep the bird in its original wrapper and place it (breast-side up) in a container or tray that will keep juices off other foods. Plan for about 24 hours for each 4-5# of turkey, so if you have a 25# turkey, it's time to start thawing NOW. A smaller, 15# turkey takes about three days, 18 hours to safely thaw. Butterball has a handy online calculator that helps you determine when it's time to get started.
Did your turkey thaw more quickly than you expected? No worries--it can stay thawed in the refrigerator for an additional 1-2 days before Thanksgiving.
2) Cold water thawing is faster, but it takes more work and time on your part. Make sure the frozen bird is in a sealed package or plastic bag that doesn't leak. Submerge it in cold water. Don't be tempted to try and speed up the process by using warm or hot water; this can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.
Change the water every 30 minutes, so the water stays cold enough, and estimate about 30 minutes of defrosting time per pound of turkey. A 25# turkey will take 12 hours to thaw using this method, a 15 # will take 7 hours. Unlike the refrigerator, you'll need to cook as soon as it's thawed, and you can't refreeze it until after it's cooked.
3) Microwave is good for tiny turkeys, especially if you're in a time crunch. Remove all the packaging, and refer to your microwave manual for the minutes per pound and power level required for safe thawing. Like the cold water method, you'll want to cook the bird as soon as your done thawing.
Things you should NEVER do to thaw a turkey (or any other meat, for that matter)
Thaw it on the counter at room temperature.
Thaw it in warm or hot water.
References for safe cooking this holiday season.