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Thanksgiving Turkey Tips

Selecting, Cooking and Storing this Thanksgiving Favorite

-- By Becky Hand, Licensed & Registered Dietitian

Is it your turn to host the annual Thanksgiving feast for the entire family? Tackling a turkey—without being traumatized—isn’t that tough. Here are the answers to the most common turkey questions.
 
What size turkey should I buy?
You’ll need about one pound per person, or a pound and a half per person if you have hearty eaters or want ample leftovers.
 
When should I buy the turkey?  
While the quality and taste of frozen and fresh turkey are quite similar, the keeping time is not. A frozen turkey can be purchased months in advance, but a fresh bird should be bought only 1 to 2 days ahead. 
 
What kind of turkey should I buy?
Personal preference usually dictates this choice. There are basically two types of raw birds to choose from at the grocery store:

1.      A pre-basted bird contains ingredients such as vegetable oil, broth and spices.
2.      An un-basted bird has had nothing added. 

USDA Grade A poultry has good shape, structure and fat covering, and is free of pinfeathers and defects, such as cuts and bruises. Grade A is the highest quality grade for poultry and is the most common grade found in stores. 

Should I buy an organic, Kosher or heritage turkey?
The USDA requires all turkeys that are labeled "organic" to be certified by the National Organic Program which ensures that animals are fed an organic, vegetarian diet, have access to the outdoors and aren't treated with hormones or antibiotics. (Note: The USDA does not allow the use of hormones in any turkey production.)

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