Wondering when should you buy the turkey for Thanksgiving or Christmas? You also might be wondering how long it will last in the fridge? Well, don’t stress because we’re here to help!
We’ll help you decide the best day to purchase your Thanksgiving turkey!
Table of contents
How Early Can You Buy a Fresh Turkey?
When you buy a fresh turkey at the store, check the sell-by date. This is the best indicator of how long a turkey will last.
If you’re buying your fresh turkey from the store, you’ll probably want to eat it within 3-5 days. This is a good rule of thumb even if the best-by date is a week away.
If you purchase the turkey directly from the distributor, the turkey will be good for 7 days in the fridge.
While you can buy a turkey in advance, it’s usually best to wait until closer to the day you’ll need it.
When Should You Buy a Fresh Turkey?
You should buy a fresh turkey as late as you can wait. This will ensure that it will still be fresh when you cook it.
If you’re nervous about not being able to find a turkey, you can ask the seller to reserve a turkey for you that day.
You can also purchase the turkey ahead of time as long as you check the sell-by date.
How Do You Store a Fresh Turkey?
Store a fresh turkey in the refrigerator. Make sure that the refrigerator is 37°F or colder.
It is also important to place the turkey on a tray with edges. This will hold any liquids that seep from the turkey.
It is important to keep the raw turkey liquids from getting on anything else in the refrigerator.
If you don’t have room in your refrigerator, you could store the fresh bird in a cooler. Be sure to replace the ice packs frequently so that the temperature stays below 37°F.
Can You Freeze a Fresh Turkey?
You can freeze a fresh turkey to help it last longer.
Wrap it in plastic wrap before you freeze it. This will prevent any juices from leaking.
If you freeze the turkey a few days after buying it, it will fully freeze before the best-by date passes. This means you’ll be able to freeze it for up to a year.
Fresh Turkey vs. Frozen Turkey
Frozen turkeys are often grown in crowded spaces, like commercial meat processing plants. Fresh turkeys are more likely to be free-range or organic.
Because of their more natural diets, fresh turkeys often have a more “gamey” flavor. They may also have a tougher texture and are often juicier.
Frozen turkeys are often sweeter because they mostly ate corn and grains. When you freeze a turkey, some of its liquids will freeze which results in drier and chewier meat.
Fresh turkeys are generally a more expensive option than their frozen counterparts.
This is because organic turkeys require higher upkeep costs. You may be able to find non-organic fresh turkeys at slightly lower prices.
However, frozen turkeys are usually the cheapest option.
Benefits of Buying a Fresh Turkey
Fresh turkeys are generally more sustainably raised. Local farmers who take pride in their livestock are more likely to sell fresh turkeys.
You can also often buy them at local butcher shops.
To support the local economy and sustainable farming practices, buy a fresh turkey.
You may also consider buying a fresh turkey if you like gamey meat. Fresh turkeys are more similar to wild turkeys than frozen birds.
If you have health concerns and prefer eating organic food, you may want to buy a fresh turkey.
Some people may even prefer buying a Heritage turkey. Fresh heritage birds have attributes that are not often found in turkeys today.
Different people prefer different types of turkey. The turkey you buy should meet your preferences.
How Do You Pick a Turkey?
When choosing a turkey, pick one that’s the right size. The right size turkey is important so that you have enough without swimming in leftovers.
Plan for about 1.5 pounds of turkey per person. This weight takes into account that the turkey has bones, which your guests will not eat.
If your turkey meat does not have bones, then you should estimate about a half pound per person.
There are other things to consider. What is the sell-by date? This is a good indicator that the turkey will still be good when you want to eat it.
Would you rather buy a natural turkey or a supermarket turkey? Do you have fridge or freezer space? Are you worried about freezer burn or shelf life?
Whether you like dark meat or white meat, you’re probably looking forward to a big turkey dinner. The important thing is that you avoid food poisoning.
Buying turkeys in advance could result in bacterial growth. Buying a turkey on Thanksgiving week will usually prevent that from happening.
This means you should buy a turkey that will be safe to eat when it’s time to serve it!
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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