For many preparing for their Thanksgiving meal, their plans include buying a frozen turkey a month or two ahead of Thanksgiving which is kept in the freezer until it needs to be thawed to roast for the meal.
I would suggest that instead of purchasing a frozen turkey early to keep in the freezer until it's time to prepare it, we should be signing up for a fresh, pasture raised turkey, which is then picked up just before the Thanksgiving meal, and then lovingly prepared and served.
Recent surveys show that the taste test comparison between a fresh turkey and a frozen turkey is currently running neck and neck (or gizzard to gizzard). It is my opinion that the difference is in how they are raised.
I've discussed the differences in how turkeys are raised here. One of the points I didn't discuss in the post was the difference in timing for the slaughter/processing between commercial growers and small producers.
Since the double-breasted turkeys grows quicker, if a turkey is allowed to grow to maturity, it can dress out at over fifty pounds, which would be wonderful for some very good friends of ours that have ten children, their spouses and grandchildren at the holiday table, but for most families that size is too big! Consequently, most commercial growers will process their birds at seven to twenty pounds and freeze them until the holiday season. This could happen as early as July, which means that the turkey you are eating for Thanksgiving has been sitting in the freezer for 4 months.
A small producer's decision of whether to raise a double breasted or a heritage turkey will dictate only the timing of when to purchase/hatch the poults based on their respective choice. Most small producers choose to process just ahead of Thanksgiving (as long as they've been diligent in getting their processing scheduled in advance) as it affects their bottom line, and many are proud of their products' freshness (i.e. the turkeys haven't been in the freezer for months).
To clarify what I'm referring to as fresh versus frozen:
- a frozen turkey is one that is chilled below 0 degrees F and can be kept in the freezer indefinitely.
- a fresh turkey is one that has never been chilled below 26 degrees F and will last 1 to 2 days in the refrigerator.
At Senter Ranch, as much as the schedule allows for it, we slaughter the turkeys the week before Thanksgiving. Legislation requires us to process the turkeys at an USDA inspected processing plant and consequently the turkeys are frozen (and there's not much we can do about it if we want to stay within the law). But, know that they are as fresh as can be!
I know I'm proud, and thankful, to be able to provide a healthy and fresh turkey for my family's holiday meal! How about you?
Interested in serving a healthy pastured turkey for your family holiday celebration?
Click on the button below to sign up to our ranch community to receive our turkey sign up when it becomes available.