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Why does my deli turkey meat look like a sieve?

I bought salami and prosciutto from the local Italian deli and while there I decided to buy roast turkey deli meat as well. When I got home, I took a peek mostly because I wanted a nibble and I've never seen deli turkey like it - it looks like mesh or a sieve with tiny holes throughout. Is this some form of turkey I've just never seen, if not what is going on?

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  1. Is all of it like that or just the top piece?

    9 Replies
    1. re: thymetobake

      I jut checked and it's all the slices. Here's a picture

      1. re: fldhkybnva

        Oh, that is just some super poor quality deli meat. It shouldn't look like that. If it's your regular brand, then they've definitely started cheaping out.

        1. re: Violatp

          Nope it's my first time buying, they have really high quality Italian salami so I thought I'd try the turkey, I guess that was a bad call.

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            How much did you pay per pound? When it comes to deli turkey(unlike some other meats) that's usually an indication of what you'll wind up with.

            1. re: miss_belle

              It was $5.30/lb, which is nearly half the price of the usual that I buy but I always no salt added turkey meat. I can't remember the exact price of the regular roast turkey at the store I usual frequent but I think it's $6.50 to $7/lb. Blargh, I had sandwiches in mind today, I guess I need a new plan. It just looks so unappetizing.

              1. re: fldhkybnva

                I pay $7.99(high $ here)per pound for Sara Lee mesquite smoked turkey. It's the driest one I can find. The cheaper brands are way too slippery for me.

            2. re: fldhkybnva

              Sounds like the deli counter is offering up something cheap(er) for the sake of being able to, regardless of quality.

              Good quality deli turkey, while not looking like turkey off the bone, certainly does not look like it was extruded!

              I apologize for my use of the word extruded. I just yucked myself out!

              1. re: Violatp

                Haha, yes thanks for making it worse :)

          2. re: fldhkybnva

            Yuck, that's repulsive!
            I think it's minced and injected with a whole lot of water to get it to weigh more.

        2. It looks like it was brined/ injected. Usually a sign it's been pumped up with fluid and salt.


          scroll down to fig. 45, brine injector

          7 Replies
          1. re: weezieduzzit

            Yea, it remind some of standard deli meat but just really extreme. I know it's compressed and all that jazz usually but never witnessed the actual holes and evidence of the brine injection other than the usual wetness of regular sliced turkey.

            The injector looks just like it, thanks. I'm still grossed out.

            1. re: fldhkybnva

              To me, it looks like there were pockets of fat or gelatin that was in the mix of minced turkey (probably gelatin) that then dissolved and leaked out when the turkey loaf was steamed/cooked.

              Brine injection is usually done to whole cuts. No need to inject something that has been chopped and formed since it can be just added to the mix. If you look at Fig. 61 in weezieduzzit's link, you'll see the two mortadella looking sausages have visible holes also.

              So although it's not the best looking lunch meat, there's nothing wrong with it.

              1. re: seamunky

                Thanks for the info, seamunky. I still wouldn't eat it, though, it looks like the texture would be unpleasant.

                1. re: weezieduzzit

                  It is! I have a high threshold for gross and this reminds me of brains. I'm just back from getting some legitimate turkey as if I won't be eating enough of it all week :)

                  1. re: fldhkybnva

                    Take 'er back and tell them to try it. :)

                    1. re: weezieduzzit

                      They also serve turkey sandwiches I'm wondering what's in that sandwich?

                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                        Oh, yes! I once ordered a turkey and avocado sandwich (to go) at a cafe. Got back to my office and the turkey was pretty much this same squishy stuff you have and the avocado was just the faintest smear of green on the top half of the roll.


          2. Looks like it is not solid breast meat but rather a formed meat product. That would explain the low price.

            1. I know we're not supposed to yuck someone's yum, but ewww.

              6 Replies
              1. re: pine time

                Yuck it! It's not my yum, not sure whose it would be

                  1. re: pine time

                    I forgot to add "I wouldn't been serve this to the cat." He's a hoover, but not sure he'd be interested. I'm just confused by the whole thing as in how could you slice this as a legitimate product, ick. At least I had a good laugh today.

                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                      Heh - my cat won't eat subpar deli, either! She adores Krakus Polish ham and will beg incessantly for it if I'm eating some. A cheaper brand of deli ham? She turns up her little nose.

                      1. re: Violatp

                        My Chihuahua likes salty deli meats and bacon. It's a rare treat, because that much salt in a 3.5lb dog is not a good thing. He will turn up his nose at deli meats with that soggy, spongy texture. If he thinks it's evil, I'd really have to think twice before eating it myself.

                        1. re: Violatp

                          My cat glares at cat food these days. Darn spoiled thing gets lots of fresh meat so I guess he's decided the cat food is not good enough for him. Gotta love the Chow pets :)

                1. Sorry, but i'm not sure what part of the turkey is shaped like an oval loaf.....????

                  Looks like an enlarged chicken nugget. But sliced thin for sandwiches. And made from, "turkey".....

                  1. i haven't read through this whole thread, but i have to ask if you talked to the deli about it?

                    the photo looks like the "turkey" is some processed loaf, and a badly made one at that.

                    i would NOT expect that if i ordered "roast turkey."

                    didn't you see them cutting it? i always ask for a taste first.

                    5 Replies
                    1. re: alkapal

                      The slicer as I've seen it is geneally on the counter opposite the customer so no I couldn't see them slice it. I'm not going to bother since it's a small amount of meat just won't buy it there again.

                      1. re: fldhkybnva

                        Commercial 'deli' turkey comes in two forms: One is the actual turkey breast removed from the bird. You will pay a higher cost for this type. It's easy to spot 'whole turkey' by looking at the texture. Second type is 'turkey meat'. This meat is essentially blasted off the raw turkey carcass using high pressure air hoses. Literally not a gram of 'turkey meat' is not recovered. The turkeys are of course old 'layers'. The 'meat' is then 'processed' in molds and what comes out the other end is what you bought. Ever wonder how they add those pretty sliced olives etc in the slices? They dump in some when the huge vat of 'turkey meat' is being mixed w/ flavor 'enhancers' 'moisturizers' etc before entering the extruder'. Yummy.

                        1. re: Puffin3

                          Right, the actual turkey breast "no salt added" is what I usually buy. Though, even when I buy processed turkey usually Applegate brand or even regular grocery store brand I thought they were loaf compressed meats as well but never seem to have the texture of the meat above.

                          1. re: fldhkybnva

                            i think i'm going to buy an actual turkey breast for $1.99/# and roast it myself. i wish i had a smoker!

                          2. re: Puffin3

                            Yup. Same as most chicken nuggets, patties, other deli meats, and nearly any poultry product from a fast food restaurant........

                      2. "They" make roast beef that looks similar.

                        1. This reminds me a little bit of my recent trip to Harris Teeter. I do my best to buy most of my groceries on sale and they always have a few things from the deli on sale. The on sale board this week tells me they have "turkey pastrami" and "deli turkey" on sale. I remember my Mom buying turkey pastrami before and it always being the texture of regular turkey, just with a crust rubbed on the outside, similar to pastrami. I loved this kind of turkey pastrami, so I order it. The deli lady hesitates and asks if I'd like to try it first and I'm glad she did. It was not what I was expecting. It had a slimy texture and was dark, so I passed. I then ask to order the "deli turkey" thinking it's just regular turkey, can't be bad. The deli lady again hesitates and asks if I'd like to try it first, as well. It was also bad and had a slimy texture. I'm guessing this is what Puffin described as "turkey meat" and also what you purchased. I passed on it, as well and ended up getting some smoked turkey breast they had sitting out in a sample bin that I had already tried and knew I liked.

                          All I can say is that I'm very thankful for the deli lady looking out for me that day!

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: SaraAshley

                            Yea, sounds like she helped you out. I find it hilarious that he jumped right at cutting the turkey as if it was his favorite deli meat in the case.

                            1. re: fldhkybnva

                              I mean.....I guess it's possible somebody out there actually enjoys this kind of fake processed turkey. At least you know better now, though!

                          2. For some reason, people these days think that turkey can be created in a laboratory. I've never understood this. I'd ask the owner of the deli if they were aware of that product.

                            1. I suspect the problem is the result of freezing, and not so much with whether your turkey is a lunch meat, a turkey loaf, or a frozen bird, and will also be related to how many times the product has been frozen. Whether the turkey was raw or cooked prior-to or after cooking or both are also important factors. Fact: water is the rare molecule that expands when frozen. it is INCREDIBLY STUPID of the poultry industry to "pre-brine" poultry by injecting it with added moisture, whether it be water or stock, then expect the product to perform well through multiple freezing and thawing along the way to market. The freezing process makes all of the cells swell, thus rupturing many of them, and thawing allows all of those frozen cells to drain leaving empty "sponge-like" holes after thawing.

                              For example, I buy poultry and pork "sandwich slices" of "deli" ham and chicken/turkey breast, and because I prefer buying in bulk and freezing some packages for later use, after thawing such products, the package that only had the lunch meat in it when I put it in the freezer will have a lot of liquid that has to be drained off when I open the thawed product. In addition, I find the texture of the product GREATLY improved if I spread a few slices on paper towels and compress them to get them closer to the texture they were when I bought them.

                              Freezing any product that is made up of cells with high moisture content will produce the same effect. It's the reason why any of us who has bought a frozen sealed-in-plastic turkey for Thanksgiving will have to open the thawed bird's plastic wrap over the sink because there is so much fluid in the packaging after thawing.

                              These are the reasons I prefer my turkey freshly killed and dressed and never frozen even once, before or after cooking! And because I live in a city, that's a lot of extra hassle to go through... <sigh> Happy Thanksgiving Chowhounds!

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Caroline1

                                I've also frozen regular deli meat slices and yes there is a lot of water extruded from the injected brine but I've never seen freezing change the texture of the meat so dramatically. The water expansion and cell rupture is rarely if ever in my experience visual to the naked eye, perhaps with a microscope. The extruded water obviously is a sign of the damage but you usually can't visualize the physical damage. The holes are gigantic to be ice crystals or ruptured cells.

                                1. re: fldhkybnva

                                  There are deli meats and then there are deli meats.

                                  You may be right, but I feel confident, based on my own experience with the freezing and thawing of plant and animal tissue, that the holes in the product the OP has presented in her photographs are the result of multiple freezes along the way.

                                  1. re: Caroline1

                                    How does the swiss cheese turkey taste? I never tried the meat and just tossed it.

                                    1. re: fldhkybnva

                                      Salty w a rubbery texture

                                      The meat doesn't shred like white turkey meat