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Sep 30, 2008 09:49 AM

Heritage Turkey for Thanksgiving

I'm interested in purchasing a heritage turkey for Thanksgiving. I live in Chicago but am coming into the DC area to spend Thanksgiving with my family so I don' t have a sense of the farmers and markets in the DC area like I do in Chicago. I was most interested in finding a farm that grows heritage turkeys and has either a drop off point or delivery in the DC area. Most of the farms I have contacted only do farm pickup and I can't ask my folks to do the drive to the farm. My parents live in Potomac and work downtown so a farmer's market or drop off point near either of those areas would be best. I would rather order directly from a farmer than purchase from Whole Foods or the like. In addition, I'm pretty committed to a pasture-grazed Heritage Turkey rather than a conventional free-range turkey. Thank you so much for your help!

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  1. A year or so ago, I ordered an organic, pasture-grazed turkey from Good Earth Farms in Wisconsin. As expected, the bird was a bit tougher and gamier than a conventional turkery, but I was pleased with it. It is delivered frozen via UPS. Not sure if it is "Heritage," but here is a link to the web site.

    2 Replies
    1. re: Jack Burden

      Theres a place in DC called Eastern Market, its in the Capial Hill section of DC, a few blocks from the Supreme Court. Eastern market has 20 different vendor in there one s called poutlry market or market poultry. Not sure it they sell Heritage birds, but they do sell fresh turkeys that are excellent! I have made heritage birds in the past(cant recall exact names) but a good fresh bird(imho) has a better taste.
      The tricky part with heritage birds is do you brine or not brine!??! I m a huge fan of brining my turkeys(never over 15-16 pounds) for 36-48 hours. The birds cook faster, the flavour is better and the moisture is not to be believed.
      If you're set on getting a heritage bird delivered, you can order one online and have it shipped frozen.

      1. re: baldwinwood

        Market Poultry sold me a bird from "Round Hill" this year. They sold them for $2.39/lb. I figured "heck, it looks like a regular fresh turkey, but there are 30 people in line with me to pick up their turkey, so it must be good". Wegmann's is selling this same brand of fresh turkey for $0.99/lb. I am a little disappointed.

    2. I'm pretty sure there was a good discussion of this topic around this time last year, if you can find it. I don't remember the suggestions.... but I think the poultry vendors at Eastern Market is a good suggestion, plus it's just a great place to shop around the holidays in general.

      I know Cibola Farms takes orders for Thanksg turkeys at some farmers markets, but I'm not sure if they have heritage turkeys, and they're not the only ones who do. You might want to check the webpage for the Dupont Circle farmers market, to get the names of the farms that go there....

      There are some regular posters who I would think know about this, so hoping they might chime in for you, but I'd also try searching for those old threads.

      1. Springfield Farms just north of Baltimore. 410-472-0738

        1 Reply
        1. re: winegeek

          Do you have any idea if they deliver/have a drop off point near DC/Potomac? Also, do y'all think it's necessary to brine a heritage bird? Thanks for your help!

        2. I have no idea if they are "heritage" or not, but Maple Lawn Farms was ranked #1 in a Washington Post taste test a couple of years ago. They are a little more expensive than grocery store turkeys, but not outrageous. They are located in Fulton, Maryland (Southern Howard County) and would be about a 30-40 minute drive from Potomac.

          1 Reply
          1. re: steinre1

            My Organic Market (MOM) sells Maple Farm turkeys. I order one each Thanksgiving and they are fabulous.

          2. Could you explain -- what is a "heritage" turkey? Thanks!

            1 Reply
            1. re: DC_Convert

              Heritage turkeys are the ancestors of the broad-breasted white turkeys that are the ubiquitous breed these days. As the name implies, the broad-breasted whites were bred because they get big breasts in a short amount of time.

              But the heritage turkey breeds are making a comback, including Standard Bronze, Bourbon Red, Narragansett, Jersey Buff, Slate, Black Spanish, White Holland, Royal Palm, White Midget and Beltsville Small White.

              This year I'm getting a Maple Lawn Farms hen, free-range but not a heritage I don't think. It's "only" $1.95/lb. so probably not.