How Long Will A Fresh Turkey Last In The Fridge
A fresh turkey will last in the fridge for two to three days if it is kept in the coldest section of it. You should cook and eat it within that time frame before it starts to show signs of spoilage. If you don’t intend to cook then you should freeze it.
Fresh whole turkeys or parts of fresh turkeys can be stored at 33degF to 40degF in a cooler for 1 to 2 days before cooking. Once a turkey has been thawed, it can be stored in the refrigerator for another 1 to 2 days before cooking, depending on the birds size. Do not worry about starting too soon; fully thawed turkey can safely remain in the fridge for an additional one or two days once it has been completely thawed.
In an abundance of caution, thawed turkey does not last long before it starts acquiring harmful bacteria, which can cause food poisoning. If in doubt, throwing it away is probably best. For stored prepared turkey, it is important to remember it may be safe to eat in just a couple days, but may not be quite as tasty. Cooked turkey can safely last up to six months in the freezer, though some of it will have passed its best by just two. Cooked turkey can be stored in covered containers, plastic bags, or aluminum foil up to 4 days in the fridge, or up to 3 months in the freezer.
Cooked turkey and other cooked meats should not be kept refrigerated longer than 3 or 4 days, unless they are otherwise preserved or vacuum sealed. It is recommended that you keep uncooked turkey in the fridge no more than three days. As recommended by USDA, a cooked turkey should only be stored in a cooler for three to four days at a temperature of 40degF or lower. It is important to keep your turkey in a cooler that has temperatures of between 40degF to 45degF, 4degC and 7degC.
After five days, take the turkey out of the refrigerator and allow to rest at room temperature for 2 hours. The turkey can remain in the refrigerator through that date, provided that the package is not opened and that the temperature of the cooler is below 40 degrees. Once cooked, you should keep turkey leftovers in the fridge for several hours after cooking, and once they have cooled.
|Cooked Turkey||3-4 days|
|Cooked Ground Turkey||1-2 days|
A full, fresh turkey should be left in the original wrapping and can last for up to 6 months in a freezer compartment when temperatures are at or below 0degF. Raw turkey meat will remain fresh for up to 2 days when stored in the refrigerator, and a year in the freezer (4 months when ground). Any turkey that is marked previously frozen should be kept refrigerated and cooked within 48 hours after purchase. A fresh turkey stored in the freezer must be cooked within 2 days after purchase; therefore, regardless of whether your turkey is frozen or if you wish to freeze it, avoid taking it home until the 23rd of December, unless it is already frozen.
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We would suggest cooking your fresh turkey ASAP after you get it home, ideally within one day. While it may seem counterproductive to purchase a fresh turkey only to put it in the freezer, you may not have much of a choice unless you plan on cooking it immediately. Avoid buying a fresh turkey that is been placed in a cooler that is been placed too high at a grocery store. This will help to decrease harmful bacteria growth on the fresh turkey between when it is purchased and when it is placed in your refrigerator at home.
If turkey is not refrigerated for more than one hour due to the time of transportation from the market, you should use an ice-packed cooler to carry it, as well as any other perishables, during the travel period. A turkey that has been frozen quickly by a processor can be stored in the home freezer and prepared safely up to 3 years after the initial freezing date, however, keeping for longer than one year can lead to decreased quality during preparation of the bird, however, it will still be safe to eat. If you place the frozen turkey into a refrigerator, you may be able to extend its refrigerated shelf life for 3 to 4 days, since it takes 1-2 days for the turkey to fully thaw.
The best way to thaw a frozen turkey is to do so in the fridge, but you can also thaw it in cold water. Assuming you have a large enough container or sink, you can also immerse a defrosted turkey in cold water to thaw it. After it has been defrosted in the refrigerator, you can let the defrosted turkey hang out there for another day or two before you cook.
A pre-packed frozen turkey does not need to thaw before it is cooked, as germs may quickly grow in the stuffing as it is defrosting. However, if it is soaked, USDA says that you should prepare a defrosted turkey right after thawing. Yes, you can freeze a cooked turkey–but you will want to thaw it and eat it within a couple months, not years. A Thanksgiving turkey that is just been roasting is tasty, but will not keep long in the fridge.
A quick online search shows most sources recommend keeping a freshly-roasted turkey breast in the fridge no longer than 1 to 2 days before cooking or freezing. A food safety expert said there is no set amount of days a turkey leftover should be kept either in the freezer or in the fridge. In the freezer, about 24 hours are needed for each 4-5 pounds of whole frozen turkey to fully defrost.
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When you are ready to defrost, store the frozen turkey in its plastic wrap, and put it on a rack-like tray or in the oven, so that any juices do not get all over the fridge. The safest way to defrost a turkey is to put it in a bowl, trivet, or large dish at the bottom of the refrigerator. You can defrost the turkey in the fridge, or you can use the microwave, if you are short on time, or run cold water over a wrapped bird in a sink. Fully cooked oven-roasted and smoked turkeys should thaw in the fridge, not on the counter.
If you are not expecting to make the dehydrated turkey that is being made into jerky in that time, then you should put your turkeys into the freezer.
How far ahead can you buy a fresh turkey?
One to two days before to the day you intend to prepare, get a fresh turkey. You can store fresh chicken, unopened, in the refrigerator up to the “best-by” or “use by” date listed on the manufacturer’s label. The “sell by” date on the label should not be adhered to.
Can I buy a fresh turkey 3 days before Thanksgiving?
A: Whether you choose to buy the chicken fresh or frozen will determine when you do so. A fresh, uncooked turkey shouldn’t be kept in the fridge for more than two days. Therefore, if you plan to buy fresh and preserve it that way, you must do so just before Thanksgiving.
Is turkey still good after 5 days in the fridge?
The majority of food authorities advise that you consume any leftover turkey within four days of refrigeration. At least on well-preserved goods, dangerous bacteria often wait longer to start developing. After four days, the meat can start to develop mold and other growths that could make you sick.