I am buying a fresh turkey for thanksgiving, is one week before thanksgiving too early to purchase it and refrigerate?

Anne Minton


AntoniaJames November 14, 2012
Most "fresh" turkeys available were not slaughtered in the past few days. They have been kept at 26 degrees. The supermarket's or butcher's refrigerator is much colder than yours, which is why you want to wait until a day or two before Thanksgiving to pick it up. Cook's Illustrated ran an interesting piece a few years ago on "fresh" versus frozen turkeys. They concluded, "supermarket birds labeled as 'fresh' can actually be tougher and drier than frozen ones." This is because, at 26 degrees, "tiny ice crystals can form in the meat. If the temperature fluctuates (during storage or transport, at the supermarket, or on the way to your home), these crystals can melt, combine with neighboring crystals, and then refreeze. These irregularly shaped ice crystals will start to poke the cell membranes in the meat, make holes and the cell tissues in the muscles will start to lose their internal contents. Then when they are cooked, those birds will be dry." http://www.cooksillustrated.com/tastetests/overview.asp?docid=19051 ;o)
Reiney November 14, 2012
Hmmm...would you buy a chicken a week beforehand and keep it refrigerated that long before using? Unless you knew exactly when the turkey was actually slaughtered and processed I wouldn't go further than 4-5 days in the fridge, including brining time (if applicable). Keep in mind you'll probably be using leftovers too.
ChefOno November 14, 2012
chefsusie November 14, 2012
Interestingly, the USDA deems fresh as: FRESH POULTRY — Turkeys to be sold as "fresh" must be stored at a temperature no lower than 26 °F.

I betting all the fresh turkeys are very close to 26f.

Voted the Best Reply!

Merrill S. November 14, 2012
If you can wait and get it more like 3 or 4 days before, I'd do that. Of course, it also depends on who you get it from, and whether you trust that source to have really fresh turkeys.
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