Here’s Why Pasture-Raised Turkeys Are So Expensive. More Importantly, Here’s Why You Should Buy Them.
free-range A turkey with access to the outside. But don't be fooled ― just because it has access doesn't mean a bird will take advantage of it.
fresh Technically, a turkey that's never been kept below 26˚F. But Wickstrom finds this to be an evasive definition: Most (Broadbreasted White) Thanksgiving birds are processed in September and October but are still labeled fresh in November, which means they've been kept just above 26 degrees for months."
An interesting side note is that Polyface Farm sells all of their Turkeys frozen. We have had our Pastured Turkeys fresh and frozen and find that they are wonderful either way! The most important thing is how they are raised!
frozen A bird that's stored below 0˚F.
hard-chilled, or not previously frozen A turkey that's been held between 26˚F and 0˚F.
hen/tom A hen is a female turkey, and a tom is a male. Setting aside size, even Zier admits he'd be hard-pressed to detect a difference in the taste of a turkey based on its gender. Where the bird's gender does matter, though, is in determining what size turkey you should buy. With hens, which run in size from about 8 to 16 pounds, buy a pound of turkey per person. But for toms, which start at 17 pounds, calculate about 3/4 pound per person, as there's a greater meat-to-bone ratio.
kosher A bird that's been processed by hand following kosher laws, all while under rabbinical supervision. The turkey is soaked in water for half an hour, then packed in kosher salt and placed on an incline for about an hour to allow the blood to drain. "A kosher bird is an acquired taste," says Rodgers. "It can seem salty."
natural A bird that contains no artificial ingredients or added color and is minimally processed. This doesn't mean it hasn't been treated with antibiotics.
organic A turkey that has been certified by a USDA-accredited agency. The term organic ensures that the bird was raised on organic feed, was free-range, and wasn't treated with any antibiotics.
Note: Make sure and read the "free range" definition above. Organic turkeys are typically still raised in mass confinement with "access" to a very small grassy area that they never use.
♦ To store a fresh turkey: Keep it in the refrigerator in its plastic wrapper until you're ready to cook it. Tuck a rimmed baking sheet underneath to catch drips.
♦ To store a frozen turkey: Place it in the freezer immediately upon arriving home.
♦ To thaw a frozen turkey: This calls for a bit of planning. It takes 1 day of thawing time in the refrigerator for every 4 or 5 pounds of turkey. So a 16-pound turkey would require 4 days to thaw completely. There's also the water-bath method: Make sure the bird is wrapped tightly before fully submerging it in cold tap water, then allow 30 minutes per pound, changing the water every 30 minutes. So a 16-pound turkey thawed this way would be ready for the oven in only 8 hours.