Thanksgiving is almost here, which means it’s time to pick out the perfect turkey for your Thanksgiving feast. There are so many different varieties of turkeys to choose from it can be hard to figure out just what to get. Here’s a guide to help point you in the direction of the perfect turkey for your Thanksgiving table.
Fresh or frozen?
The first choice to make is whether you want a fresh or frozen bird. Turkeys are designate as fresh only if they have never been chilled below 26º F. On the other hand, frozen turkeys are those that have been chilled below 0º F.
Any turkey sold as “previously frozen” are thawed but at one time had been chilled to below 0º F. It is largely agreed upon by turkey producers that fresh turkeys are the most desirable because freezing will have negative effects on the taste and texture of the turkey meat.
Beyond fresh and frozen there are several different types of turkeys on the market. All the different categories can become overwhelming and confusing. But there are a few basic things you should know to make choosing a turkey an easier process.
Any turkey that is labeled “organic” must be certified as such by the USDA. A turkey can only be labeled as organic if it has been raised on 100% organic feed, had access to the outdoors, and has never received antibiotics.
Only turkeys that have been processed under the supervision of a rabbi can be considered kosher. They must be grain-fed and have never been given antibiotics. One feature that makes kosher turkeys stand out is that they are soaked in salty brine, which gives it a unique flavor.
Self-basting turkeys are turkeys that have been injected with a basting solution pre-purchase. The solution is generally made from a combination of fat, broth, water, and flavoring agents, such as spices.
Any turkey that has had access to the outside can be considered free-range. These birds tend to have better flavor than other because they aren’t crowded in a cage.
Turkeys that come from well-known higher-end brands generally have good reputations because they are usually free-range and the quality of the feed their turkeys get is better. They also contain fewer if any byproducts.
- Heritage turkeys
These turkeys are often smaller and richer than other turkeys. They are generally more expensive per pound, but buying the supports biodiversity.
A natural turkey needs to have minimal processing and should have no artificial ingredients or colors.