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FAQs about whole turkey
When you're preparing a whole turkey, you're usually cooking for a group of people, so it helps to know what size of bird to purchase. A good rule to follow is to allow at least 1 pound per person. If you want leftovers, add 1/2 pound per person. To feed a large crowd, you can always purchase two smaller whole turkeys instead of a massive 25-pound turkey if you're worried about fitting such a large bird in your oven.
You can store a fresh whole turkey in the refrigerator for one to two days before you plan to cook it. Try to place it in the coldest part of the refrigerator, which is usually the meat drawer at the bottom. To store the turkey any longer, it needs to be put in the freezer to keep for about six months. For a whole turkey that was flash-frozen, it can last up to three years. However, anything longer than one year might reduce its flavor and texture.
Any leftover cooked turkey will keep in the refrigerator for three to four days. Otherwise, you can also freeze cooked turkey for up to three months.
The amount of time you need to thaw your whole turkey depends on its size. Avoid thawing the turkey on the counter; the best way to thaw the bird is either in the refrigerator or by cold water.
For the refrigerator method, keep the turkey in its original packaging and place it on a tray breast-side up. Allow one day of thawing for every 4 pounds of turkey. With the cold-water method, also keep the turkey in its original packaging and thaw the turkey breast-side down in a sink full of cold water. Make sure the turkey is submerged, and rotate the turkey every 30 minutes. Allow 30 minutes for every 1 pound of turkey.
If for some reason, your turkey is still frozen before you plan to put it in the oven, you can still roast it. A frozen turkey does take 50% longer to cook, though.