You may have perfected your Thanksgiving menu, including a mouth-watering recipe for Herb-Butter Turkey, but do you know how to choose the perfect bird to serve at your big feast? Have you figured out how big it should be? Do you know the difference between frozen and fresh? If you'd like the answer to these questions, then keep on reading, I've compiled a few tips to help you out.
- To figure out how big of a turkey you should buy, a good rule of thumb is about 1 lb. per person, more if you want leftovers and less if those people are children (unless they're children with adult appetites!). If the turkey is prestuffed, up the amount to 1.75–2 lbs. per person.
- Generally speaking, the younger the bird, the better the flavor and tenderness. Fryer (also called roaster) turkeys are less than four months old and the most tender turkey you can buy. Young turkeys are four to eight months old and have soft, smooth skin. A yearling is a 12-month-old turkey and is reasonably tender. A mature (also called old) is one that is older than 15 months. The meat is tough and it is not well suited for roasting.
- Although a fresh turkey costs more than a frozen, it's generally considered a superior bird. Fresh turkeys have never been cooled to a temperature lower than 26°F, whereas frozen turkeys are flash frozen. If you buy a fresh turkey, try to arrange to pick it up as close to the eating date as possible. Storing a fresh turkey in your freezer may cause it to deteriorate quickly (home freezers don't have the same cooling capability as commercial ones).
- Some other labels you might see on a turkey include: smoked — ready to eat as the process has cured and cooked the meat; organic — one that is only fed organic feed; natural — no artificial ingredients or coloring are added; self-basting — injected with various ingredients that keep the turkey moist while roasting.
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If you have any great tips or questions on how to select the perfect turkey, let us know in the comments below!