How long will a thawed turkey be SAFE to eat. Turkey was placed in fridge frozen last Wednesday and I want to cook it this Saturday. The turkey weighs 21 lbs. By the way, the turkey is still in it's plastic coveringThanks
Kristen is the Creative Director of Food52
It will depend on a few factors, including how cold your fridge is, and how fresh the turkey was when it was frozen (presumably pretty fresh). At that size, it should have taken about 5-6 days to thaw in the fridge. It may be fine, or it may not -- good news is: you'll know it's bad if it smells off. I would unwrap it tomorrow, leaving yourself enough time to replace it or go to plan B if it smells bad.
Remember there are two types of bacteria, spoilage bacteria, which can smell, and pathogenic bacteria which do not. As a general rule, you should cook a turkey as soon as it thaws (or even a bit sooner if desired). USDA guidelines recommend cooking within 2 days of thawing so if I understand correctly, your schedule is seriously pushing it. That bird should have been in the oven no later than yesterday.
Now it is true that by cooking to 165F, salmonella et al should be killed and if the bird hasn't ripened too much, it should be tasty. Your call.
We lived and no one became ill. Whew!
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