Have You Started Defrosting Your Turkey Yet? Don’t Wait Too Long

Image courtesy of Renee Rendler-Kaplan

In a little more than 48 hours, many of us will be sitting down to a Thanksgiving meal that probably includes a turkey. Some of us will have to wait longer or just eat something else because the person responsible for said turkey didn’t take it out of the freezer until Thursday morning.

As we mentioned yesterday, there are really just three methods for thawing your turkey safely: In the refrigerator; in cold water (while still sealed up in plastic); or in the microwave. What about leaving it on the counter? Yes, the turkey will thaw that way, but the USDA warns that you’re just giving any bacteria present on the bird the opportunity to grow during the hours it spends at room temperature.

Microwaving does work, but it will likely result in uneven thawing with some parts of the bird already beginning to cook. And who has a microwave that can handle a 24-pound monster of a turkey?

So that really leaves ye olde fridge and the pot of cold water.

The fridge takes the most time — about 24 hours per 4-5 pounds — meaning you had better get that 10-pound bird out of the freezer and into the fridge now. And if you’ve got a turkey north of 15 pounds, it’s probably too late for the refrigerator defrost option.

In that case, you’ve still got the cold water option. This is much faster — about 30 minutes per pound — but requires (A) more work and (B) a vessel to contain the bird and the cold water. You’ll have to change the water out about every 30 minutes, though some people like to just keep the water pot in the sink with the tap running at a little more than a drip.

For Thanksgiving procrastinators, the cold-water method could be a life-saver, allowing you to thaw a 15-pound bird in under 8 hours — though of course you still need to cook it…

So maybe it’s a good idea to have a lot of appetizers at the ready to keep the family from tearing into each other while they wait for dinner.