How To Buy A Thanksgiving Turkey

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According to the National Turkey Federation 95 percent of Americans will eat turkey at Thanksgiving. Choosing a turkey can be confusing because there are so many options. Should you buy fresh or frozen? And what about natural or organic or free range? DIFFERENT TYPES OF TURKEY Natural Turkey – Anything labeled natural must be minimally processed and contain no flavor agents, artificial ingredients, coloring or preservatives. They cost $1-$2 per pound and can be purchased from supermarkets and natural foods stores. Free-Range Turkey – If you are concerned about animal rights, these are the turkeys for you because they are allowed to access to the outdoors. Because of their diet of bugs and grubs and exercise they have a more robust flavor and texture. They cost $2.50-$5 per pound and can be purchased directly from the farm or from natural foods stores. Organic Turkey – These are free-range turkeys that are also fed pesticide and chemical free grains and are not given antibiotics. They tend to be more expensive and have a strong turkey flavor. They cost $3.50-4.50 per pound and can be purchased directly from the farm or from natural foods stores. Heritage Turkey – These are direct descendants of the first domesticated turkeys raised by the settlers. They tend to be free-range and organic and are the most expensive turkeys. They have not been bred to have a large breast and have a robust flavor with a moist chewy almost beef-like texture. They are best roasted at 300-325 degrees and cost $7 per pound. They can be purchased directly from the farm or online at QUESTION: DOES IT MATTER IF YOU BUY A FRESH OR FROZEN TURKEY? Fresh Turkey – Many chefs and food experts prefer a fresh turkey because they are aged several days, which makes them more tender and less dry. Fresh turkeys can be purchased two days before Thanksgiving, but must be cooked after two days to avoid food poisoning. Frozen Turkey – Tend to be drier, which is why many are injected with a brine or broth to keep them moist. If you are gluten intolerant, check the label on your injected turkey. Many contain gluten! You can also brine your own thawed turkey for 24 hours to tenderize it and make it more flavorful. Frozen birds are usually the least expensive, but you must plan ahead, because frozen turkey takes 24 hours to defrost for each five pounds. A 12-pound turkey will take 2½ days to thaw. A 20-pound turkey will take four days to thaw. QUESTION: COST SAVING TIPS FOR THIS THANKSGIVING Americans celebrate Thanksgiving with a bounty of food, but you don’t have to let the financial crisis put a damper on your holiday celebration this year. Stick with the basics that your family loves the most (turkey, potatoes, stuffing, vegetables, cranberry sauce and pie.) Avoid or limit pre-meal snacks to save your waistline as well as your pocketbook. Turkey is an economical protein. Don’t overcook the bird so you can enjoy eating it. Buy a bigger bird than you need for dinner or two smaller birds so you will have leftovers. Turn leftovers into several additional meals including turkey sandwiches and quesadillas, turkey enchiladas or lasagna, turkey shepherds pie and turkey soup. Look for bargains. Pick ‘N Save will match any advertised turkey price. Comparison shot at Health Hut, Whole Foods, Outpost and Woodman’s for organic.