Finding the perfect turkey for your needs is the first step to a memorable Thanksgiving dinner Here's help on determining the size and type of bird to purchase.
With so many turkeys on the market, trying to choose your holiday bird can be mind-boggling. To help you cut through all the jargon and find the perfect turkey, here's a glossary of the terms you're likely to see.
Fresh vs. frozen
Fresh: A turkey may be labeled "fresh" only if it has never been chilled below 26°F. (Turkey meat, according to the National Turkey Federation, doesn't freeze at 32°F, but at a temperature closer to 26°F.)
Frozen: Turkeys chilled below 0°F must be labeled "frozen." Or, if they're sold already defrosted, you may see "previously frozen" on the label. Most turkey producers agree that freezing adversely affects the texture and taste of the meat.
Hard-chilled or not previously frozen: Turkeys that have been chilled below 26°F, but not below 0°F can't be labeled fresh, but they don't have to be labeled frozen either. If a turkey isn't labeled as either fresh or frozen, it's most likely in this category. This type of bird may also be identified as "hard-chilled" or "not previously frozen."
We recommend choosing a fresh turkey without any added ingredients, and organic, kosher or premium-brand turkeys are all great options. If the turkey is not kosher, you can brine it yourself for extra-moist, flavorful meat.