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Nov 19, 2010 06:33 AM

How long can fresh uncooked turkey keep in the fridge?

I'm a member of the Park Slope Food Coop. They will be selling fresh Turkeys starting today and the last shipment they will get is Monday. It's first come first served, so it's risky to wait until the last day to get one. I have no room in my freezer to freeze it, not that I would care to do that anyway. How long is it safe to keep a fresh turkey in the fridge before cooking?

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  1. That's hard to say without knowing what "fresh" means in this particular case. According to previous threads on this subject, the "fresh" turkeys sold in supermarkets can legally be maintained at 25 degrees. To the rest of the world, that's frozen. No problem keeping those in the fridge for a week as they defrost. Killed and processed yesterday would be a different story.

    4 Replies
    1. re: greygarious

      How different? I'm getting one of those tomorrow and won't cook it until Thursday.


        1. re: ospreycove

          Thanks for the link. It didn't work directly, but I navigated to the info. Here's what it says. "Buy your turkey only 1 to 2 days before you plan to cook it." Doesn't really tell you waht to do if you're going to have it longer than that, but it's a start. I'll be asking the woman who runs the processing class tomorrow. I'll post what she says.


      1. re: greygarious

        I'm pretty sure these turkeys fall more in the killed yesterday category. Or the day before yesterday.

      2. I just looked on the Coop site and they said they are generally slaughtered the same day (shudder.) Any ideas how long it will keep in the fridge?

        1 Reply
        1. re: vvv03

          Wow, same day processing. Well, in that case for rabbits and game birds, from day it was "dispatched" a maximum of 5 days is considered prudent, and advisable for stronger meats. such as duck, wild goose, squirrel. I would double check to verify slaughter date.

        2. I would brine it. That seems to be a good way to keep a bird fresh for longer. Don't start the brine before Sunday though (3 days brine and 1 day to dry off).

          3 Replies
          1. re: Produce Addict

            Three days is a very long time to brine and risks oversalting unless it's a very weak brine. 12-24 hours is more like it for a smallish turkey. Over 16 lbs, 2 days. Google Cooks' Illustrated/America's Test Kitchen turkey recipes (or watch the marathon on PBS Create Saturday) and follow their procedures. I only brine this time of year, when it's cold enough for the bird to brine on the porch or in the garage, since there's never enough room in the refrigerator.

            If you get the bird on Saturday and start brining it Tuesday night you'll be all set. Let it dry uncovered in the refrigerator overnight starting Wednesday evening - that will make for a crisp skin.

            1. re: greygarious

              sorry i meant a dry brine--3-4 days is standard.

              1. re: Produce Addict

                Yeah, I dry brine 3-4 days when doing Zuni chicken.

          2. We raise and process our own ducks and chickens. I would not want to eat a bird slaughtered the same day. We 'age' our birds in the fridge for at least two days before we freeze or cook them. It seems to improve the texture of the meat. Please don't ask me why I don't know what happens scientifically but the birds seem to be more tender when they are aged.

            So I'd recommend getting them a few days in advance. You could always brine the bird in a cooler with lots of ice if you don't have room in the fridge.

            2 Replies
            1. re: rosepoint

              Nice to hear from someone with experience!

              Can I ask how many days in a cold fridge you'd feel comfortable keeping a bird (unbrined) before cooking?

              1. re: rosepoint

                When beef is aged, enzymes start to break down the meat, tenderizing it. I am sure the same thing happens with poultry. The sole time I bought a turkey at the local poultry farm, the bird was chewy despite ample cooking time and the correct temperature. The skin (which seemed thicker than on supermarket turkeys) was brown but its underside was rubbery.

              2. I think it matters how they were packaged. The birds I saw at TJs today - sealed in plastic - had a sell by date in mid-December. I would imagine that most birds will be marked with a relliable sell by date.

                1 Reply
                1. re: jen kalb

                  Thanks!! That is so logical and yet, sometimes, I forget to check the sell by date.