Thanksgiving is just around the corner and it’s time to start thinking about thawing your turkey. There are three safe ways to thaw a turkey: in the refrigerator, in cold water and in the microwave oven. Notice that thawing on the countertop is not a safe option! If left on the countertop for more than two hours the outer layer of the turkey could be in the “Danger Zone”, temperatures where bacteria multiply rapidly even though the center may be still frozen.
After you bring your turkey home from the grocery store put it immediately in the freezer. Do not leave it in your garage, back porch, in the car trunk or anywhere else the temperature cannot be monitored.
Thawing in the refrigerator
To thaw in the refrigerator plan on approximately 24 hours for each 4 to 5 pounds. Put the turkey in a pan near the bottom of your refrigerator so there is no chance of the uncooked juices dripping and contaminating other foods. The following chart will help you determine how many days in advance you will need to take your turkey out of the freezer.
- 4 to 12 pounds…….1 to 3 days
- 12 to 16 pounds…..3 to 4 days
- 16 to 20 pounds…..4 to 5 days
- 20 to 24 pounds…..5 to 6 days
Once thawed, your turkey can remain in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days before cooking.
Thawing in cold water
To thaw a turkey using the cold water method, allow 30 minutes for each pound. The turkey needs to be in a sealed leak proof plastic bag to prevent cross-contamination and to keep the turkey from absorbing the water. It must be submerged in cold tap water and the water should be changed every 30 minutes until the turkey is thawed. Here are the suggested times to defrost, based on the size of your turkey.
- 4 to 12 pounds…….2 to 6 hours
- 12 to 16 pounds…..6 to 8 hours
- 16 to 20 pounds…..8 to 10 hours
- 20 to 24 pounds…..10 to 12 hours
Cook the turkey immediately if you are using this method to thaw.
Microwave thawing is safe if the turkey is not too large. Follow the manufacturer’s instruction for the size turkey that will fit in your oven, the minutes per pound, and the power level to use for thawing. Remove all of the outside wrapping and place it in a microwave safe dish to catch any juices that might drip. It must be cooked immediately after thawing.
By following these thawing steps, and cooking it correctly, you can feel confident that your turkey will be safe and enjoyed by all of your guests this holiday.
Food Preparation, Food Safety, Holiday ideas