Increase your odds of a successful Thanksgiving meal by knowing the temperature – of the turkey!

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February 07 2021 06:00 pm
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(WOWK) – People thinking of serving the traditional Thanksgiving turkey have a choice between fresh, frozen or labels that indicate the product is something in between. But the product label is not quite what it may seem to be on the face of it. It’s all about the temperature.

When we talk about water, the word “frozen” describes anything below 32 degrees Fahrenheit. But the standard for the frozen turkey label is much colder.

FROZEN POULTRY — Turkeys sold as “frozen” must be stored at 0 °F or below.

Frozen turkeys on sale at a grocery store in Akron, N.Y. (AP photo/David Duprey, File)

Meanwhile the term “fresh” when applied to a turkey might make you think it could be closer to room temperature, but the actual definition leans a lot cooler than that. In fact you might need a good bit of thawing even with a fresh turkey.

FRESH POULTRY — Turkeys to be sold as “fresh” must be stored at a temperature no lower than 26 °F.


There are some other in-between designations such as “not previously frozen” or “refrigerated,” but the most well known labels are “fresh” or “frozen.”

As for thawing, there are three main methods:
– Refrigerator
– Microwave
– Cool water immersion

Knowing which method you have time to use can save you a ton of hassle:

Turkey thawing methods from USDA

We don’t recommend leaving that turkey outside and if you haven’t purchased your bird for your feast yet, you may want to go with the non-frozen route as thawing in a refrigerator takes roughly a day per every 4-5 pounds according to the USDA. Even the cold water method takes 30 minutes per pound and you need to change the water every 30 minutes.


As far as knowing when the meat is done, the USDA says:

When your food thermometer registers 165˚F in the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing and the thickest part of the breast, the turkey is ready.

A meat thermometer is a must to know when the turkey is safe to eat. Photo: USDA

And here’s a serving of leftover facts about turkeys as we head into Thanksgiving below.

As for the temperature outside on Thanksgiving or any other day, you can always check out the StormTracker 13 forecast to know whether you’ll need to thaw out as winter approaches.

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