Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Nov 11, 2006 10:26 PM

Heritage vs. Wild Turkey Need advice

The last few years I've heard so much about the heritage turkey being far superior to the ubiquitous broad breast. Also, I've heard about wild turkeys. We're all big fans of dark meat, so I've heard that the heritage has a higher percentage of dark to white than the ordinary. Here are my questions:

What's the difference between the wild and heritage?

Are they worth the extra money?

We usually brine our bird, is that necessary with the heritage or wild?

Where is a good place to buy them? My usual store in SF is Bryan's on California, and I know they can usually get you almost anything that you ask for, but they can be pricey.

Thanks in advance. Any feedback or experiences will be appreciated.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Here are some past threads on General and HOme Cooking boards that can help you with Q1, 2 & 3.

    Where to buy is a local question, and SF hounds should post recs here.

    1. NY Times did an article on this:

      I'm not fond of turkey myself but if I were going to buy an heirloom breed, I'd get in touch with Sylvia Mavalwalla at S&B Farm in Petaluma; I don't have the phone number but email address is

      1. For the past few weeks, the Prather Ranch people at the Saturday farmers' market at Grand Lake in Oakland have been taking reservations for heritage birds. I don't think that PR is now in the pultry business, but instead they're parterning with some specialist. The birds are $6.99 per pound, and can be reserved in very specific weights. The birds will be available at the 11/18 Saturday market. It sounds like the birds have been off gobbling corn for the past few years in some bucolic setting. If you're interested, try giving PR a call at their SF location: 415-391-0420

        1 Reply
        1. Bi-Rite Market on 18th and Guerrero is selling heritage birds for $5.99/lb. Not sure where they are from. 415-241-9760

          2 Replies
          1. re: skimc

            BiRite's source is the same as Prather's.

            1. re: skimc

              That's kinda high. I think Baron's in Alameda is selling Heritage turkeys from Mary's for $4.99/lb ($1/lb makes a big difference with something as big as a turkey). However, you can't order specific weights, just a range. ETA: If you know someone who works for Google, employees could purchase turkey through them from the Heritage Foods people for $4-something/lb.

            2. hello, the only wild turkeys I've seen were flying about, then strolling around in the hills east of Glen Ellen. They were lean and not very large compared to their domesticate cousins(roughly goose-sized, with of course shorter and broader wings and totally different plumage), so if you're getting a truly wild bird don't expect to feed a large group.
              Last year I got a Red Bourbon through Prather, grown in the midwest by a pioneer in the heritage/humane husbandry movement. It was two+ years old, free-running its entire life; many domesticated turkeys incl. heritage aren't fed and raised for that long, as the farmer gets diminished returns for longer feeding costs,and that's also why these go for $7/lb. Very dense and solid meat, as you'd expect, and very flavorful. The birds reproduce naturally, so the white meat is much less than the domesticates that are artificially inseminated(the natural way isn't possible once the white portion goes past what the poor birds can negotiate). The tendons were very prounounced, not only in the usual places like the legs (which were useable only for soup, they were tough and stringy like a big active bird would have),and the bones overall more massive,so the yield in meat was less than its more sedentary counterparts would have. So if cost is a factor, the Prather option is probably not the best, with it premium price and smaller amount of meat, as dense and flavorful as it is. enjoy your feast