Choosing A Thanksgiving Turkey


by Brandi Savitt – October 8th, 2012

Have You Ordered Your Bird Yet?

Between everyday life, crazy hurricanes, and an unexpected snow storm, have you even had a chance to think about Thanksgiving?  Well, with Turkey Day just two weeks away, now is the time to make sure you order the gobbler of your choice.  From Heritage to Frozen, here is our Fab & Fru guide to choosing a tasty, green and affordable bird this holiday!

It’s All About the Flavor

According to thenibble.com, the taste of any meat is determined by four factors:

  • The underlying quality of the meat.  Flavor is a fundamental expression of an animal’s genetic stock.
  • The age of the bird. Older animals acquire more fat, which provides more flavor, and heritage animals grow more slowly than commercial animals. Heritage turkeys are generally seven or eight months old, compared to commercial birds which are three or four months old.
  • How the turkey was raised.  The more exercise an animal gets, the more its muscular flesh builds, and the stronger its flavor.
  • What the bird was fed.  Animals allowed to graze and forage will develop a deeper flavor than those fed a pure grain diet (different grains also produce different flavors).  True free-range turkeys eat grasses, grubs and insects that help produce more flavor nuances.

Your Average Grocery Store Brand – $1-2 per lbs

The traditional Thanksgiving turkey is different today than it was 50 years ago.  Today, 99% of all turkeys raised in the U.S. are the Broadbreasted White variety.

Store and brand name gobblers are typically your cheapest option, but they’re not always the highest quality meat.  Most of the big brands breed industrial amounts of turkeys that are mass farmed and often injected with saline solution and vegetable oils in an attempt to help improve the taste and texture of the meat.

Free Range Birds – $2.50-$5 per lbs

The definition of free range may be more of a marketing ploy than an actually reality for many store bought brands.  By law these birds must be given a small area to roam, but that does not mean they do.  This term also does not mean the animals are given a natural or organic diet, and it does not mean you are getting higher quality meat.  The free range label alone is not worth the extra cash!

Kosher Turkeys – $2.50-$5.00 per lbs

On the other hand, for the same price range, Kosher turkeys are grain-fed with no antibiotics and are allowed to roam freely.  These turkeys are processed and inspected under rabbinical supervision.  This includes soaking the bird in salt brine, which adds a distinctive and savory flavor.  Trader Joe’s sells a quality Kosher bird for $2.50 a pound!

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