Is your turkey cavity still frozen? Wondering if it ok to cook it this way?
Buying an entire frozen turkey is a convenient way to purchase a turkey
But it helps to consider that these larger birds will take a long time to defrost.
Defrosting with the right method and for the correct length of time is very important.
Partly thawed turkeys are common and don’t need to be a worry.
So let’s deal with a frozen cavity and get that beautiful turkey on the table!
So Can You Cook Your Turkey If It’s Still Frozen?
You can start cooking your turkey if it’s still frozen. It will take longer to cook the turkey if the meat is partially frozen. So you need to account for extra time. You just need to make sure your turkey isn’t in the danger zone which is 40°F – 140°F for more than 2 hours.
The Physical Signs to Tell if a Turkey Has Thawed
It is very easy to tell if you have frozen turkey.
A frozen bird will be solid to the touch.
And (obviously) be very cold to the touch.
The packaging and raw turkey flesh may still have ice crystals on them.
But what if your turkey isn’t showing these signs and you want to be sure?
The turkey flesh should have a little bounce to the touch.
A good tip is to try and move the wings to judge the wiggle room.
They will move freely and without any sound.
This is a good indication you no longer have frozen meat.
How to Check if the Cavity Is Frozen
– Remove the packaging and check the cavity for giblets.
– Remove the giblet bag.
– Check for the physical signs highlighted above.
– Use a temperature probe to accurately monitor the cavity.
What Is the Cavity & Why Is It Still Frozen??
The cavity is the inside space of the turkey that has been cleaned and gutted.
The internal organs would have been removed by the butcher.
The cavity is more likely to remain frozen.
It traps in the cold air and the surrounding bones hold the temperature for longer.
Think of the turkey meat as insulating the cavity.
As the exterior meat is exposed to the higher temperature air it defrosts quicker.
Note: Your turkey may come with giblet bags packaged in the cavity.
These are certain internal organs that are edible and for you to eat.
Like a tasty giblet gravy or stock!
At What Rate Does a Turkey Defrost?
Use the below defrost time calculator.
The FDA recommends defrosting a turkey in the refrigerator.
At an average temp of 4°F, a turkey will defrost at 1 pound per 30 mins.
The Safest Way to a Whole Defrost Turkey
No easy way out for a turkey!
Defrosting an entire bird can take days.
A domestic microwave will not fit an entire turkey!
Initially defrost in the refrigerator according to the above calculation.
If the cavity hasn’t quite thawed then you can also use cold water.
Defrosting in a Refrigerator
– Keep the turkey in the original packaging.
– Check the weight and estimate the defrost time.
– Place at the bottom on a roasting tray or something that will catch excess water.
Cold Water Method
– Re-wrap the turkey in 2 layers of plastic wrap.
– Fill up your sink or a container large enough with cold tap water.
– Submerge for 30 minutes and check again.
– If the cavity is still frozen then replace the water.
– Repeat every 30 minutes until thawed.
What Should I Do if My Cavity Is Still Frozen?
– Check the weight of your turkey to make sure you correctly worked out the defrost time.
– Remove the original wrapper or packaging and take out the giblet bag.
– Defrost for an extra couple of hours back in the refrigerator.
– Or use the cold water bath method.
– Or add around 25% extra cook time.
Can I Still Cook Turkey if It Has a Frozen Cavity?
You can still cook if the turkey is partially frozen.
But this can be the difference between a good or a delicious turkey.
Because you apply another 25% to your estimated cooking time.
This will give you enough time for your turkey to be cooked.
But can lead to dry meat and burnt instead of golden skin.
Food Safety Notes
– Pay attention and wash any surfaces or utensils you have used when handling raw meat.
– Always thaw turkey refrigerated.
– Don’t leave raw or cooked meat out of the refrigerator for more than 30 minutes.
– Do not attempt to thaw in hot water.
– Cook the thawed meat within 2 days.
– Use a meat thermometer to accurately measure internal temperatures.
The ‘Danger’ Temperature Range for Harmful Bacteria
Do not leave the turkey out of the fridge to thaw, even if it is just to finish it off!
The temperature range that bacteria thrive at is 40°F – 140°F.
Author: Charlie Reeves
Hi, I’m Charlie, I am head taste tester at Simply Meat Smoking! I love it grilling, smoking, and getting out in the yard with the kids! The family also love to test all my recipes (especially my EXTRA CRISPY pulled pork, smoky pork loin, and ANY SEAFOOD I grill)
You will usually find me playing with the kids, perfecting my brisket bark, or sipping beers with boys around the fire. Can’t wait to share all my delicious smoking and grilling adventures with you!
You can read more on our About Us page.
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