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ISO best place to buy fresh Christmas turkey

Is organic better? Worth the price premium? Which butcher? Any suggestions please!

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  1. I've just ordered mine from Fresh From The Farm, I hope someone will chime in to say they're good ones!

    4 Replies
    1. re: gembellina

      OK here you go : they're good ones! (yes I have ordered from there many times)

      Or why not try 3D printing your turkey?

      1. re: foodyDudey

        yup, he was a very tasty birdy (still is, turns out 16lb was massive over-catering!)

      2. re: gembellina

        How much is Fresh From the Farm charging /lb?

        1. re: prima

          $3.85 per lb for whole turkeys.

          They also have rabbit.

          The prices can be found here: http://www.freshfromthefarm.ca/order/

      3. Breeding and feeding are the primary influence on flavor, and they are frankly quite similar for organic or regular turkeys. The same breeds, the same grains, the same large barns. Organic feed is expensive but comes from the same major suppliers, such as Purina or Shur Gain.
        The major difference for me, as a buyer, is whether I'll pay extra to get a bird that was not fed GMO grains.
        So far, I'm not convinced organic is better or worth the price, but it is an individual choice.

        1 Reply
        1. re: jayt90

          Jayt90, I agree.

          I bought my $3.75/# fresh family farm raised Thanksgiving turkey from Cody's Cows in Acton. I ordered it well in advance at their stand in Brampton's Farmers Market and they delivered it at a pre-arranged time to downtown Brampton a few days before Thanksgiving. I asked for the smallest available and it weighed in at 22.5 pounds or about $85.

          The turkey had a little better flavour and texture than my usual honey-brined efforts plus it had huge thighs like an Olympic powerlifters.

          This Christmas we will have my usual Utility grade product plus a few extra thighs as we prefer the dark meat.

        2. I have bought and cooked premium priced free range turkeys and frozen utility grade birds and everything in between. I don't think that the premium priced birds are worth the extra money. For the last several years I have been purchasing fresh Turkeys from Costco. Sometimes I brine, and sometimes I do not. They have always turned out good. While I think that the quality of the bird is important, it is also just as important that the bird be cooked to the correct temperature. An overcooked turkey is not a good thing no matter how much one paid for it.

          5 Replies
          1. re: LJS2

            Like you, I've tried all sorts of turkeys and there just isn't any systematic difference. Anyone who can tell the difference between the taste of fresh and frozen or organic, free range etc etc is imagining it.

            Turkey is bland. I've had some with better texture than others but variations production etc make very little difference in taste. The only think that I've ever found to make a difference is either brining or a dry cure. As you say, cooking temperature is probable the real key to decent turkey. It's so bland to begin with, that even slight overcooking and dryness really kills it.

            1. re: evansl

              I may not be able to tell the difference between a regular turkey and an organic one fed only non-GMO grain, but I can certainly tell the difference between a fresh and frozen product. And I am not imagining it. Some people can notice the difference and others can not. That is why I don't miss IKEA meatballs.

              And if you think turkey is bland, what do you think of the average chicken?

              1. re: foodyDudey

                Turkeys and chickens are raised quickly for profit. Look at any turkey farm,selling to us as organic, Mennonite, Brethren, Lilydale or Maple Leaf, and you'll see the same white turkey breed which grows quickly, usually on a commercial feed such as Shur Gain or Purina. Organic feed is available , similar, from the same mills, at much higher cost.
                Fresh From the Farm is making a huge profit from the Mennonite turkeys they get.

                The same scenario applies to chicken: the breed, whether organic or supermarket, is Cornish X cross, because it grows quickly, in a few weeks. The chickens eat constantly, whether they get organic or regular grains. They refuse to exercise or fly.

                The only reason to pay extra for turkey or chicken is to get non GMO organic feeding. All other factors are equal.

                1. re: jayt90

                  But do you think it is not possible to detect any difference between fresh and frozen? That is the part of evansl's post that I did not agree with.

                  1. re: foodyDudey

                    No. I would have to be convinced by a blind test. When we blind tested MSM many expectations, including mine, were upset. A supertaster like Robert Parker would be the exception.

          2. Utility turkeys at FreshCo/NoFrills/Food Basics at $0.77/lb. (though, that may have been last week's flyers). No matter, with the current grocery wars, I'm sure it will happen again....

            1 Reply
            1. re: CocoaChanel

              I have had frozen utility turkeys that easily pleased a small crowd. They are usually small or medium sized, and often have a wing missing, or a knife cut in the skin. Otherwise they are normal, and pass CFIA . I would just pick one that looked presentable, and roast at 450 F for 2.5 hours. Tastes like any other turkey.

            2. I take out a Wild Turkey each spring and this year I got a 15 pound hen which is nestled in my freezer. The taste of a wild bird is like kissing the hem of an angel. Ben Franklin wanted the Wild Turkey as the national symbol, but was overruled. I suppose the Bald Eagle has little culinary value. Anyway, find a hunter and beg, borrow or steal one of these beasties. You'll never go back to that pale-skinned, tasteless factory bird again.

              21 Replies
              1. re: TorontoTuna

                That's a pretty big hen if it's truly a "wild" wild turkey, bro.

                1. re: Kagemusha

                  Outside the cedar forest where they roost at night, I have a feeding station of corn, oats and barley grown on my farm. Yes, that was an outsized hen, but the mature Toms are 20-22 pounds. The biggest hen I ever harvested before was 12 pounds.

                2. re: TorontoTuna

                  Not to be a party pooper, but in Ontario, wild turkey hens can only be hunted in the fall. In the spring, only bearded turkeys can be taken. It is a very rare hen that has a beard. Either way, you are lucky to enjoy that wild turkey. I'm still waiting to harvest mine.

                  1. re: earthygoat

                    How do wild compare to domestic? Are they tough and sinewy? That's how I think of Canada geese, but never had one.

                    1. re: jayt90

                      I've never actually eaten a wild turkey since I haven't had any luck hunting them. But, I'll go out on a limb here and compare them to heritage chickens, which I do raise. Yes, "tougher" than regular cornish cross broilers, but tender and very tasty when killed young and cooked properly. Therefore, since wild turkeys are probably at least a year old when killed, they must be much tougher, but probably very flavourful. I can only imagine if it's cooked improperly, it'll come out dry as leather.

                      1. re: earthygoat

                        Firstly the hens are way tastier and more tender than the toms. I hang my bird for three to four days in my wine cellar, which is a controlled 50 degrees. After dry plucking and cleaning, I brine the bird in a refrigerator in sea salt for an additional three days. I stuff the bird with a very wet stuffing...usually oyster stuffing... then smoke on the Green Egg at a high temp. for 20 minutes, then completely cover the coals with wet apple chips. This produces steam and smoke that tenderizes the turkey. I slow smoke it at 180 degrees until the instant thermometer shows 160. I baste it every 30 minutes and when done, let it rest for 20 minutes. Best turkey ever.

                        1. re: TorontoTuna

                          So, when do you actually get your hen?

                          1. re: earthygoat

                            In early to mid April. Out of season, so mea culpa. After I hang and brine 'em I vacuum pack and freeze the bird. The reason for the spring is that after a constant diet of grains all winter, they are nice and plump. When they start to forage and have hatchlings, they lose weight. Also, turkeys are omnivorous and we have a gazillion frogs and toads on my property. After a summer of feasting in the swamp, they taste like one. Spring hen is best.

                            1. re: TorontoTuna

                              The last thing responsible hunters need is to have the public think that all hunters don't follow rules. The reason only toms can be hunted in the spring is because the hens are sitting on nests. They are already very prone to predators while nesting. Every hen killed in the spring means one less clutch of eggs that might hatch.

                              1. re: TorontoTuna

                                If you're for real, shame on you.

                                1. re: TorontoTuna

                                  yup, shame on you. It's trite say 'mea culpa'. The damage you are doing to the ecosystem is horrible.

                                  1. re: Flexitarian

                                    What a joke! I take down 25-30 coyotes each year just on my 200 acres. The wild turkeys thank me and present a princess to sacrifice each spring in appreciation.

                                    1. re: TorontoTuna

                                      Of course you're licensed, right?

                                      1. re: Kagemusha

                                        For deer and moose. But coyotes? Section 31 of the Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act speaks to the protection or defence of property. Under section 31, anyone who believes that wildlife is damaging or is about to damage their property, may, on their own land, harass or kill the offending wildlife. All farmers in my area kill coyotes...never wolves. If the coyote pop. (and fishers) is not culled, your free-range birds will be so many free-range feathers

                                        1. re: TorontoTuna

                                          There are laws set out by the MNR (and migratory bird act) in regards to hunting all animals in Ontario. As a hunter, I follow those laws. You seem to be making up your own rules.

                                      2. re: TorontoTuna

                                        How many flamingos do you take down each year in Boca? LOL.

                                        1. re: prima

                                          Folks, let's take it as a given that TorontoTuna is illegally hunting out of season and that nothing that anyone says on this thread is going to change his mind about that. We understand the desire to take him to task for this, but it's pretty far afield from the focus of Chowhound, so we'd like to see this sub-thread end. Thanks.

                              2. re: earthygoat

                                Oh,earthygoat,
                                heritage chickens. Yes. My brood of cochons was harvested, or slaughtered in July. Extremely tough although 10 months old, and fed on grass grubs and grains.I'll go to Cornish X Cross next year. Tremendous stock exercise.

                                1. re: jayt90

                                  Yes, Jayt90, I've found that any heritage chicken older than 12 weeks might be questionable when it comes to tenderness, especially with males. When you get your Cornish X next year, buy females. They tend to have fewer heart and leg problems due to slower growth, which is really negligible to us backyard growers.

                                  When it comes to turkeys, I'm thinking of ordering some Broad Breasted Bronze poults from Frey's. We'll see how they do compared to the large whites.

                                  1. re: earthygoat

                                    I'd think Coq au Vin or the Greek-style makaronia with braised rooster is the best way to deal with male chickens over 12 weeks old!

                                    1. re: prima

                                      Yum! I love Coq au Vin and many mean roosters have devoted themselves to this tasty meal. I like the sound of the makaronia, any new recipes for rooster are appreciated.

                        2. It's a pricey shop, deservingly so, but they sell fine birds http://www.cdbossington.com/

                          1. I get my turkeys from Chris' Country Meats in the London Covent Gardent Market or Remark Market in London.

                            In Toronto, Oliffe, The Healthy Butcher, Cumbrae's and Sanagan's would be selling good quality turkeys, as well as the various butchers at the St Lawrence Market.

                            1. Thanks. That's a pricey turkey! I usually pay around $30-$40 for a Hayter's turkey from Dashwood. I think I'd be more likely to buy a goose than a turkey if I was going to spend $75+.

                              1. OK, I vow I will not get drawn into the organic/non organic, frozen/fresh debate again this year. I did several years ago and it almost ruined chowhound for me. Let me just say this. The best birds I've ever prepared, or eaten, are heritage birds. That means they tend to be organic, and raised happy. To me, happy animals are better to eat than animals that never had the opportunity. But personal preferences aside, if it is flavour you are after, fresh heritage birds are the way to go!

                                For several years running we have got our birds from Mark Trealout and Laura Boyd of Grass Root Organics in Argyle Ontario. They are vendors at the the Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto. Sadly, it is likely too late for this year unless they get a cancellation, but here is their web address and contact details: http://grassrootorganics.com/

                                1. Not a huge fan of turkey, living out of Toronto appreciate wild turkey a few times! Apart from wild turkeys, I suggest ordering whole smoked turkey, which I have only done twice with wonderful results. The regular turkey no matter how it is presented is a turkey to me, not interested!!!

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Jar

                                    For my money and the fact I don't have a big family, a nicely done whole roast chicken is preferable.

                                    1. re: Flexitarian

                                      Flexitarian, I agree, that is why I only have twice ordered a whole small pricey smoked turkey! And when you consider the many items offered for the dining holiday, there is plenty of good food, so a roasted whole chicken is actually always perfect!

                                      1. re: Jar

                                        I roast a chicken a couple times a month, so it doesn't seem like a Xmas dinner to me. I usually roast a goose or duck for Xmas, since I usually only roast a fresh turkey for Thanksgiving. Or we have Beef Wellington. :)

                                        1. re: prima

                                          Prima, where do you buy your goose, and is it fresh or frozen?

                                  2. 79 cents / lb utility turkeys at no frills on dundas and landsdowne

                                    1. Liberte fresh free range turkey on sale for $0.99 per lb at Empress Walk Loblaws

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: smfan

                                        sweeet

                                        1. re: frogsteak

                                          $18-$20 dollars per bird Six left. King Cole Young duck frozen also on sale for $4.4 per pound. $9.6 per whole duck

                                      2. If anyone is still wanting to buy a fresh turkey, they're $25 off at Costco at the moment. Most of them are 16 lb and up

                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Nevy

                                          That's a good deal. But they are up against a last sale date. If I was close by tomorrow I would buy and freeze.

                                          .