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Nov 11, 2009 08:18 AM

How long to keep a dry brined fresh turkey in the fridge?

Hello everyone
This is my first time at preparing the Thanksgiving meal for our family! I am going to cook a fresh 20 pound turkey with a dry salt brine. The recipe calls for keeping the bird in the fridge with the salt rub on it for three days, and then a half a day in the fridge out of the bag in order to dry the turkey skin. We are having TG on Friday in my family, and I am planning to pick up the bird on Sunday afternoon.... staring the brine on monday, taking it out of the brine bag to air out overnight, and then cooking it on Friday. The buther assured me that the bird will still be great and fresh by friday, but many of family members think that is too many days to have a fresh turkey in the fridge. Any suggestions ? Thoughts?
By the way, here is the link for the dry brine that I am using.

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  1. I use the same method and have for several years now. A 20 lb bird will not go bad, as long as it's in the coldest part of your fridge. You and your bird will be fine. I am doing the same (only dry brining, not wet) and leaving my bird, a 12-14 lb, for 3 days uncovered. Trust me, it will be fine, as long as it stays 40* or below in your refrigerator.

    1. 3 days is totally fine.

      1. I use the Zuni method, too and the longer drying time will probably be a good thing. Like Phurstluv said, I would just try to keep it in the coldest part of the fridge.

        1. It's not a fresh (raw) turkey once it's been brined. It will be fine.

          Just to nit-pick: a "brine" is a solution of salt and water, usually with other ingredients, but always with water. Sea water is the original brine (e.g. "briny deep"). The LA Times aside, there's no such thing as a dry brine. What's described in that article = "dry cure". Brining = "wet cure".

          3 Replies
          1. re: Zeldog

            It's actually a "salt cure". Wet cure, is a brine, also known as "pickling" or "Corning"

            1. re: Zeldog

              Sorry and thanks for the correction. That's just what everyone else was calling it. :)

              1. re: adrienne156

                No apologies necessary - I call it dry brining also. I was just trying to clarify for the nit-picker, Zeldog!!

                And you're correct when you say a longer drying time will be a good thing. The bigger the roast / bird, the more forgiving it becomes. I sometimes leave my whole chickens or parts dry brining for a couple of days. Always come out moist, flavorful, and with crispy browned skin!

            2. I have a similar question. Trader Joe's has brined turkeys for sale that just came in today. They assure me that I can buy the turkey today and store it in my fridge until Thanksgiving; the brine helps keep it from spoiling. I just don't want to feed my 20 guests food poisoning (that would be baaaad). They've been doing it for years, so I guess it's okay, but I'm just nervous to buy it so far in advance. I have a refrigerator in the garage that doesn't get opened often, so it'll stay cold. Any thoughts on this?

              6 Replies
              1. re: tktchr

                Take the temp of the fridge first. As long as it stays 40* or below, it should be fine. If it's wrapped in plastic, I would unwrap it at least 24 hours in advance to air dry the skin, if you want crispy brown skin.

                1. re: Phurstluv

                  Thanks everyone for your help!! Now I have a new question. I am using my new oven which has a convection roast feature, and a reg roast feature. I know that convection roasting will cut the cooking time down, but I always thought cooking a turkey should be a "slow process". Will roasting it on the convection mode ruin my turkey?! I have a digital probe that connects to the oven, so I will know when the bird is cooked. As you can tell , I am a little nervous :)

                  1. re: italiana3

                    No it shouldn't. But I wouldn't try it out for the first time on this particular meal!! Mine does too, I just use the convection feature at the very end of the roasting, to speed up the browning and make sure the skin gets crispy, when I know the turkey's about done anyway.

                    1. re: Phurstluv

                      Meh! Don't be nervous. I use my convection oven and have great results. But since you are a bit nervous, I have to caution you: DON'T KEEP OPENING YOUR OVEN! Doing so will allow heat to escape, and the longer it takes for your oven to get back up to temp is keeping your turkey roasting for that much longer.

                      My advice to you is to use your nose. Once you start smelling your turkey, it's telling you it's getting done. I wouldn't rely so much on the thermometer (because it's only as accurate as where you place it) as I would my smell. Once you brine it (no matter what method you use) it will cook much faster. On convection even more so. I've done a20 lber. on convection...brined, and it was done in around 2 hours or so. I cook my turkey on 450 convection to start for 30 mins, then turn it down to 350 convection for the remainder of the cooking time, btw.

                      1. re: hbgrrl

                        thanks everyone!! I think I am going to chicken out (ha ha) and go with the conventional roasting :) By the way, would you take the bird out when the internal time reaches 165? or take it out a bit sooner and let the bird continue to cook out of the oven

                2. re: tktchr

                  I'm intrigued to see so many questions, over the years, about Trader Joe's fresh brined turkeys. It's a leap of faith ... to purchase a fresh turkey a full week before Thanksgiving, and not have misgivings about food poisoning. The store should have a handout about why it's okay to ignore the USDA guidelines. I keep flipping between cooking it next Thursday (purchased it yesterday, Friday) and buying another one on Tuesday. (Though, the sales people told me they're the same turkeys!) Now, I need to check the temperature in my refrigerator.