When to thaw your Thanksgiving turkey

Thanksgiving is days away which means it is time to prepare especially if you are hosting this year.

Thanksgiving is days away, which means it is time to prepare especially if you are hosting this year.

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The United States Department of Agriculture has a few tips on how to thaw a turkey safely. There are a few ways including in the refrigerator or in cold water.

The USDA says that it takes 24 hours for every four to five pounds a turkey weighs to thaw in the refrigerator. That means for a 15-pound turkey it takes around three days. A thawed turkey can remain in the refrigerator for up to four days before cooking, according to Butterball.

If you want to thaw in cold water, keep the turkey in its original package and submerge it in cold tap water but remember to change the water every 30 minutes, the USDA said. You will want to do this if you are planning to cook the turkey right away after it has thawed. According to Butterball, you can plan on thawing the turkey for 30 minutes per pound.

You can also thaw your turkey in a microwave, according to the “Today” show. If your turkey is small enough, take it out of its plastic wrap and put it in a microwave-safe dish. Then, push the defrost button and put in the weight. If your microwave doesn’t have that option, you can thaw it still in the microwave but based on its weight. Six minutes per pound roughly so if you have a 10-pound turkey, it would take an hour to thaw in the microwave. If it’s double that size at 20 pounds, it would take about two hours to thaw.

Remember that thawing a frozen turkey on the kitchen counter — or in a garage during the wintertime (the most common misconception shared by callers) — is not safe. Leaving any frozen package of meat or poultry for more than 2 hours at room temperature is dangerous. Even though the center of the package may still be frozen, the outer layer of the food is in the “Danger Zone” between 40 and 140 F — a temperature range where foodborne bacteria multiply rapidly,” the USDA said.

You will want to make sure your turkey is completely thawed and once it is, you will want to cook it right away, according to ”Today.”

The process takes a few days so planning ahead will help you to make sure your Thanksgiving meal can happen.

If you have a food safety question, you can call the USDA Meat and Poultry Hotline at 1-888-674-6854 or chat with a food safety specialist live at from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Monday through Friday. The hotline will be available for questions on Thanksgiving Day from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. EST.

You can also visit Butterball’s website for some cooking tips and recipes.

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