Have you ever wondered how long you can keep a turkey frozen in the refrigerator without it spoiling? The simple answer is that it is safe to eat a turkey that has been in the freezer for a year or two. The only thing that one has to ensure is that the turkey is stored in the freezer unopened and uninterrupted at 0 degrees Celsius or below. This recommendation has even been approved by the US Department of Agriculture Food Safety and Inspection Service.
The reason for this is that freezing food slows the movement of molecules which ensures that the microbes enter a dormant stage. Freezing food as such preserves it for extended periods of time because the growth of microorganisms that cause food spoilage and foodborne illnesses is prevented.
At the same time in order to keep yourself safe from the possible growth of harmful bacteria that may have been there at the time of storage, it is crucial to utilize safe methods to thaw the turkey properly before cooking.
A frozen turkey can be thawed in three different ways: in a container of cold water, in the refrigerator, or a microwave. Though it is the slowest method, thawing in a refrigerator is also the best method. This is because the turkey can be thawed in a controlled environment. The thawing will take one day for every 5 pounds of turkey weight in the refrigerator. Once the thawing process is completed, it is recommended that the bird be cooked within a couple of days.
For faster thawing, take the turkey out of its packaging and place it in the microwave. Utilize the defrost function depending on the weight of the turkey. As a rule of thumb, thaw for six minutes for every pound of frozen turkey. Once the thawing process is completed, cook the turkey immediately.
It is not recommended that the turkey be stuffed with stuffing when cooking. This is because uncooked turkey parts can provide ideal conditions for harmful bacteria to grow which are present both on the outside as well as the inside of the turkey.
To destroy the bacteria which cause foodborne illnesses, keep cooking the turkey until its inner temperature reaches around 165 degrees Fahrenheit. If it is served before reaching this temperature, it will not be safe to eat, according to the USDA.
To accurately determine the internal temperature, use a digital food thermometer on the turkey. There are other ways of determining the temperatures in the kitchen as well such as basing one’s judgment on how brown the bird looks. However, such measures do not provide an accurate measure of when it is safe to serve the turkey.
How long does a frozen turkey last?
Do note that though the turkey can last for multiple years, over time all frozen foods eventually deteriorate in terms of flavor, texture, and taste. For best results with frozen turkeys, it is recommended that you consume them within a year of freezing and cook properly.