Whenever you are dealing with poultry, there are certain things to keep in mind. When it comes to defrosting, the main concern is the growth of harmful bacteria that can cause foodborn illness. (yuck!) No one wants their special dinner to be ruined by violent illness, so please follow all safety precautions, no matter how tedious.
- First off, the only completely safe way to defrost a turkey is in the refrigerator. Because the temperature is low, there is not much chance of bacteria growing too rapidly while the bird is defrosting. The downside to this is that it does take longer to defrost. However, the end more than justifies the means.
- Once your turkey has been defrosted in the refrigerator, you can keep it in there for 1 or 2 days before cooking.
- Defrosting your turkey in cold water can be very dangerous. However, if you absolutely must, keep the turkey in its packaging and place in a watertight bag. Make sure that you change the water every half hour to keep it as cold as possible. The warmer the temperature, even by a few degrees, the more chance of bacterial growth. Once it is defrosted, cook the turkey immediately!
- Always defrost your turkey in its original packaging. Don't take it out of the packaging until ready to cook.
- When defrosting in the refrigerator, place the turkey on a tray to catch any juices that may leak out. Once turkey is defrosted, wash the tray in hot soapy water to remove any bacteria that may have formed.
- Never thaw turkeys at room temperature!
- Never defrost in the microwave!
- Never re-freeze turkey after defrosting until after it is cooked!
- Once the turkey has been cooked, cut all the meat off the bone before storing leftovers in the refrigerator!
Turkey Thawing Guide