Whole Turkeys - Cooking Tips
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Fresh, Hard-Chilled, Frozen
Any turkey labeled "fresh" in a food store has never been allowed to be cooled to a temperature lower than 26°F. Turkeys that are hard-chilled are cooled to temperatures between 0°F and 26°F. Even though turkey meat begins to freeze at 26°F, in order to be considered "frozen", a turkey must be cooled to a temperature of 0°F or below.
A free-range turkey means that the bird was allowed to roam outdoors, which may have a positive affect on the flavor of the meat, especially if the roaming area was not too crowded. The amount of space that a turkey is given to roam, regardless if it is indoors or out, actually affects the quality to a greater degree than if the bird is simply allowed to be outdoors.
An organic turkey refers to a turkey that was allowed to eat only organic feed and was allowed to roam outdoors (free-range). In order to be classified as organic, the turkeys can never receive any antibiotics. Growth hormones are also prohibited, which is the case for all commercially raised poultry.
This refers to turkey that has limited processing with no artificial ingredients or coloring added. The term "natural" does indicate that the bird was free-range. The meat will also be a bit drier than other types of turkeys that have had additional processing.
A kosher turkey must be raised and processed with strict guidelines under rabbinical supervision. The turkeys are free-range birds that are fed only grain, are never given any antibiotics, and are individually inspected. When they are processed, the turkeys are soaked in a salty brine solution to give the meat a unique flavor.
Prestuffed frozen turkeys can be purchased with a variety of stuffing flavors and in a large selection of sizes. Prestuffing and freezing a turkey at home can be dangerous. Home freezers cannot freeze as quickly as commercial freezing processes. The stuffing increases the rate of growth of harmful bacteria which may multiply rapidly before the turkey has a chance to freeze properly.
A frozen self-basting turkey is injected with various ingredients, such as oil, juices, and seasonings, before it is frozen. When the turkey is roasted, the added ingredients keep the meat moist and tender as well as providing extra flavor.
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