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How Long Can You Freeze A Turkey

How Long Can You Freeze A Turkey

How Long Can You Freeze A Turkey?

Turkeys can be frozen for several months and still be safe to eat, as long as they are stored at 0°F or lower. However, the quality of the meat may begin to degrade after a few months in the freezer. It is generally recommended to use frozen turkeys within 6-12 months for the best taste and texture.

As is true when freezing any kind of meat, it is important to put the turkey into the freezer as soon as possible after cooking. Since the freezing process only keeps food as fresh as it was when it went in, freezing your turkey 3 days after roasting it will mean the meat is on the brink of spoilage rather than being on the fresh side. If your turkey is fine when you freeze it (and you properly defrost it — more on this below), you should be able to eat it at any time after you freeze it, whether it is in two months or two years. If you purchase an uncooked, frozen turkey right now, it is still fine to defrost, cook, and eat it in December.

All meats will freeze well for some time, but eating them in three to six months will preserve their freshness. A frozen turkey may be a good choice to increase convenience, and can be stored safely in a freezer indefinitely, provided temperatures are kept below 0 F the whole time. If it is going to be impossible to obtain a turkey that close to the date, buying a fresh turkey some time before the date and freezing it may be a good choice. This means for the most delicious turkey for dinner come Christmas, you may want to start buying now.

Watch this video to learn about the shelf-life of frozen turkey

If you are wondering what to do with the leftover turkey once it is frozen, I recommend a few of these recipes with leftover turkey (and I have got a few more coming up next week). With families around the country having smaller Thanksgivings this year, chances are good you have a few turkey scraps left. Now that you know roasted turkeys can be frozen again once cooked, go ahead and buy yourself and your family a large bird and treat yourselves to a king-sized feast. Make sure to defrost the turkey in the refrigerator, rather than leaving it just sitting on your counter, or sticking it in the oven.

It may even be a good idea to ensure that you put the turkey in the deepest part of your freezer. Make sure your turkey is placed in the right part of your freezer: The deepest is best, but the medium-lower shelves are good too, as long as you plan on using it shortly. A good idea may be to empty out your lower shelves of any other foods, and then just leave the turkey in there, making sure no juices can escape. For the parts of your uncooked turkey, be sure to wrap it up tightly in foil and place it in the fridge, or firmly sealed in your freezer bag, before you put it away.

You can also thaw frozen turkey parts in the microwave, but if you do choose to use this method, you will need to plan on cooking them right after they are thawed, so you do not let the bacteria build up. Thawing should be done the morning of Thanksgiving, or a little bit after, because after you have thawed your turkey, you need to immediately cook the bird, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It can take a lot of time for the turkey to defrost safely, so you need to be sure you give your turkey plenty of time to thaw before you need to cook it. Keeping the turkey in the lower or back part of your freezer makes temperature changes far less likely.

If the frozen turkey is still frozen solid, it may not be cooked uniformly, meaning that harmful bacteria can get through the cooking process — and this can spoil Christmas for everyone. As we have mentioned all along, turkeys tend to get dryer in the best of times, so the more you refreeze and thaw, the dryer it is likely to get. Freezer burn also happens with turkey, so it is best to store the turkey in a sealed container to prevent it.

When stored correctly, pieces of raw turkey should last well for nine months in the freezer, and entire raw turkeys can last a year if frozen. According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the correct, safest way to store a whole raw turkey in your freezer is to keep it wrapped up as is.

For a cooked turkey, either a whole bird or breast, guidelines indicate a cooked turkey can be stored in the freezer for 4-6 months. If you are storing a cooked turkey (as opposed to raw), according to The Globe and Mail, it should be fine in the freezer for two or three months.

To summarize, the recommended length of time a turkey breast lasts in the freezer is about 9 months. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests storing a whole turkey frozen in the freezer for about 12 months. A frozen whole turkey can be stored for about 12 months in a freezer set at or below 0F, whereas pieces will begin to deteriorate in quality slightly earlier, around 6 to 9 months.

Sealed, uncooked turkey, including turkeys that have been thawed, can safely last in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 days. A turkey that has been adequately defrosted in a cooler may be re-frozen as needed, USDA says. The Food Standards Agency says that certain turkeys may be cooked from frozen as long as manufacturers instructions indicate this.

Freezing is fine if you are using your turkey for casseroles or stews, but it is not as good if you are intending on using your turkey for sandwiches, because that makes the meat a bit soggy. If you happen to have leftover turkey ground up, or have decided to render the turkey ground up on its own, then you will be happy to know that it is also completely safe to freeze the ground up. Before putting your turkey in the freezer, be sure that it is not spoilt — doing so can leave an unpleasant odor in the freezer.

How long can a turkey be in the freezer before it goes bad?

Keeping your turkey in an airtight container can enable it to last you up to two years once it is stored properly in good condition. There is no reason you should not be able to eat your turkey at any time after you have frozen it as long as the meat is in good condition at the time of freezing (and if you have thawed it properly – more on that below).

What does a spoiled turkey look like?

Often a person can tell if a turkey has spoiled by looking at its “texture and smell,” which indicates that the turkey has been overcooked. As a result of foodborne pathogens, it gets trickier to detect foodborne pathogens, according to Hanes, because the turkey’s skin becomes slimy, and the smell is often described as being like rotten eggs or the smell of sulfur.

How do you reheat a frozen cooked turkey?

Always reheat the turkey at 300°F at low temperatures. It prevents the heat from drawing moisture away from the meat, yet high enough to not take hours. Wrap your leftovers in aluminum foil and top with a few spoonfuls of gravy or chicken stock. Close the foil tightly with a pat of butter