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Old 11-14-2007, 08:12 PM   #1
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Thawing a frozen turkey

Seems to me somewhere I saw a guideline for how long it takes to thaw a turkey in the fridge. I've cooked a 20+ lb turkey just about every year of my adult life, and still find that it isn't thawed on Weds and have to run it under cold water to get the innards out. Any ideas? I cannot find the source I saw last year (after I cooked the turkey, naturally) for a time/lb chart.

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Old 11-14-2007, 08:13 PM   #2
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If you always find it is still frozen then what I would do is add an extra day of thaw time in the fridge.
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Old 11-14-2007, 09:20 PM   #3
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Per my local newspaper, "Rule of thumb: every 5 pounds of turkey will need 24 hours in the refrigerator to thaw".
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Old 11-14-2007, 10:22 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jet View Post
Per my local newspaper, "Rule of thumb: every 5 pounds of turkey will need 24 hours in the refrigerator to thaw".

That never worked for me either.

I always start a couple of days earlier. There is no reason to get the timing so close. A completely thawed turkey will certainly keep in the fridge for a couple of days.

If I buy a frozen turkey, I bring it home the Saturday before Thanksgiving and thaw it in the fridge. The 'rule of thumb' would say a 15 pound bird is ready Tuesday. That's only two days in the fridge thawed.
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Old 11-15-2007, 03:36 AM   #5
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I just read today that it is 18 hours per kilo of bird. Never bought a turkey though so I don't know how accurate that is.
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Old 11-15-2007, 12:35 PM   #6
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I don't put mine in the fridge--no room.

Instead, I stick it in a big cooler, which goes outside unless it is really cold out. The cold bird keeps the cooler at a safe temp for a couple of days. I monitor it as it thaws and may have to add ice if it thaws too much before I am ready for it. If I want to hurry things along, then I run water into the cooler.
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Old 11-15-2007, 01:04 PM   #7
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I haven't bought a frozen turkey for the last 10 years or so, but when I did buy them I thawed them using the sacreligious "flirting with death" method: on the counter or in the cold oven (to keep curious cats & dogs at bay) for the first 24 hours, then into the fridge. Bird would be thawed thru in 2-3 days depending on size.
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Old 11-15-2007, 03:41 PM   #8
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I have used the flirting with death method, too, with a small concession to good health--put the bird in the sink, and cover it with towels. That acts kind of like a cooler, using the coldness of the bird to keep the outer layers cool as it defrosts.

Does that make any sense? I think as long as the outside of the bird is good and cold to the touch, leaving it out on the counter or in the sink is fine.

I wouldn't leave a frozen turkey on the counter if the kitchen was 90 degrees.
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Old 11-15-2007, 03:54 PM   #9
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I think as long as the outside of the bird is good and cold to the touch, leaving it out on the counter or in the sink is fine.
Cold to the touch is too subjective. If is is below 40 degrees F then it is fine. If it is above it is not.
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Old 11-15-2007, 08:13 PM   #10
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From the American Dietetic Association:

Thaw turkey in the refrigerator (never on the counter) or in the microwave using the defrost setting or under cold water

For safe thawing in the refrigerator, allow about one day for every four to five pounds of turkey to thaw in the refrigerator

When thawing turkey in the microwave, follow owner's manual. Cook immediately after thawing because some areas may become warm and begin to cook during microwaving

Turkey may also be thawed in cold water in its original airtight packaging or in a leak-proof bag. Submerge the bird or cut-up parts in cold water, changing the water every 30 minutes. Estimate minimum thawing time to be 30 minutes per pound for whole turkey

Do not re-freeze thawed turkey
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Old 11-15-2007, 08:27 PM   #11
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Here's some more help for thawing from Butterball:
Butterball | Turkey Cooking Tips | Turkey Recipes and More
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Old 11-16-2007, 10:45 PM   #12
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Hey, I was trying to avoid the "flirting with death" methods. In fact, I've only once purchaced a fresh turkey. My mom bought two frozen birds a year, sometimes overseas (remember, I'm a military brat) and no one ever got sick on one, period, even when the local military hospitals were filled beyond capacity with GIs who ate at the chow halls. I guess in this day and age we're all getting a little paranoid about food safety. My day old turkey can still break rocks. Thanks for all your help!
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Old 11-27-2007, 03:18 PM   #13
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Quote:
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Per my local newspaper, "Rule of thumb: every 5 pounds of turkey will need 24 hours in the refrigerator to thaw".
I picked up a 14 lb turkey on Saturday, and had the store saw it in half. I thawed one half in my refrigerator until today (3 days). I was able to remove the breast and cut up the rest to go in the slow cooker, but it was not thawed.
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Old 02-15-2021, 09:11 AM   #14
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Sorry to resurrect an old thread, but once again, my turkey was still frozen - even after 3 weeks in the frig. Unlike in the past, I decided to go way past the time recommendations and used how it felt - frozen or not! I poked it with my finger every day starting after 10 days. Like I said I removed the turkey at 3 weeks and it was still frozen through - just barely thawed on the surface.

BTW, I used my brining bucket for the thawing process - a bucket dedicated to brining meat. It is just big enough to fit a turkey in. No liquid, just the bird in its original wrapper and in the plastic bag it came from the store in - for convenient lifting. I did put on a lid - loose - on the bucket.

What I did was start the brining process with the mostly frozen turkey, a thoroughly chilled bring mix, and left the bucket out in the kitchen for 6 hours. After 6 hours, the bird still had a frozen spot in the center (29F), but the brine was 55F, so I put the bucket (and turkey) back in the refrigerator overnight.

In the morning the brine was 35F, and I proceeded like normal. I used a Peruvian spice rub from Chef John. Delish!!

But I am at my wits end for the thawing process.

I am considering a hybrid method where I start the thaw in the bucket for 10 days, then add water without unwrapping the bird (how many days? Use temperature and finger poking as a guide?), followed by the normal brining process.

Thoughts?
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Old 02-15-2021, 10:43 AM   #15
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Check the temperature of your refrigerator.
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Old 02-15-2021, 02:05 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Andy M. View Post
Check the temperature of your refrigerator.
+1 That's what I was thinking.
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Old 02-15-2021, 07:08 PM   #17
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Thanks for the temperature tips.

So I just completed a day long temperature test of the refrigerator. Some details that might be pertinent.

The refrigerator is in an unheated garage. It's a spare that I use as my wine frig. I live near Columbia, SC so the outside temps have not been below freezing much, and the garage space acts like a temperature damper in that it never gets as cold at night, nor as warm during the day as the outside.

The results of the test were that the temps were in the 32F to 35F range. I don't want to change the settings, but I see sort where the problem lies.

So my plan for next time is to monitor the temps inside the bucket and as it approaches 35F, I'm going to add iced water to cover. That will speed up the thawing process during the critical phase. Then proceed with the normal brining.

More thoughts?
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Old 02-15-2021, 08:29 PM   #18
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The normal temp for a fridge is 35F to 38F. Defrosting times are tied to these temps.
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Old 02-16-2021, 07:31 AM   #19
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Well, 3 weeks sounds wrong. Really wrong, if you ask me. And makes no sense at all. Except the fridge temperature as was mentioned. I would not use this fridge to defrost anything.
Leave it in the kitchen sink, or in your bucket in the kitchen.
3 weeks of slow defrosting could put that turkey in danger. What i mean is, the outer layer gets defrosted and is seating in the fridge for 3 weeks. I would not leave a piece of defrosted meat in the fridge for 3 weeks, chances are it will go bad.
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Old 02-16-2021, 09:07 AM   #20
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Well, 3 weeks sounds wrong. Really wrong, if you ask me. And makes no sense at all. Except the fridge temperature as was mentioned. I would not use this fridge to defrost anything.
Leave it in the kitchen sink, or in your bucket in the kitchen.
3 weeks of slow defrosting could put that turkey in danger. What i mean is, the outer layer gets defrosted and is seating in the fridge for 3 weeks. I would not leave a piece of defrosted meat in the fridge for 3 weeks, chances are it will go bad.
Just to clarify, it was at the 3 week mark that the outside of the turkey had thawed enough to indent when poked with a finger. Prior to that it was hard and unyielding.

However, I am a mechanical engineer and took a course on heat - and one of the exercises was figuring out what happens when a hot object is brought into a normal environment - sort of the opposite of this. I took that into consideration when I was thinking about the mechanism involved. My best guess was that the turkey was 2 or 3 days away from being thoroughly thawed, but I removed it just to get going with the cooking - and to see where it really was. Hence my question.

Anyway, thanks for the responses. Very helpful.
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