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Choosing Your Turkey

turkey_on_table Choosing a turkey used to be pretty simple. Figure out how many people were coming to dinner and get the biggest bird possible to feed the crowd. Now it can be pretty daunting. Here's some advice to help you decide what's the right turkey choice for you. The biggest difference for almost any turkey you choose at Whole Foods Market is that they are fresh. Our birds are harvested close to the time of being sold. You may not realize that the FDA allows birds to be harvested in February, kept at 27°F for months and then sold as fresh in November. That's not what we sell here, but people who are buying our fresh birds for the first time aren't used to getting turkeys that are really fresh. Now, you may see ice on our fresh birds because we chill them below 30°F to keep them safe and fresh, but they aren't frozen. That said, we do offer some value options of frozen turkey, and they are from this year's harvest, not holdovers from last year like some frozen turkeys sold elsewhere. So, your first choice is frozen turkey or fresh turkey. Well, actually, your first choice is if you buy your bird from us at all. It's important to know that all of our turkeys are raised according to our strict quality standards requiring no antibiotics ever, an all-vegetarian diet, no added solutions or injections, and complete traceability to the farm. We think this makes our turkeys a better choice. turkey_chart Now, what about all those other options: Kosher, Organic, Heritage, Pre-brined, etc? We put together this handy chart to help you figure out what is important to you: It just makes sense that the more care and time that goes into raising the turkeys, the more they will cost. We bring you a range of options so you can choose a turkey that matches your values and budget. Oh yeah, one more critically important note! Now that you've chosen your turkey, please remember that fresh turkeys cook faster than older ones. You need to plan your feast so the turkey is ready at the same time as the mashed potatoes and dressing! Enjoy your special dinner!

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66 comments

Comments

Sue says …

I ordered the oven-ready boneless turkey breast. but it doesn't say how much it weighs,, and I don't know about how long it will take to cook in the oven. Can you tell me about how long it should take to get to the right internal temperature?

says …

Cooking time will vary by weight. Your best bet is to get a meat thermometer and cook your turkey until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees, then take it out of the oven and let it rest til it reaches 165.

says …

There is the possibility of some surface ice on our fresh turkeys due to the low temperatures they are stored in. They will not be frozen through and through the way frozen turkeys are though (and will not require defrosting). If you are concerned about the amount of ice on your turkey, you can feel free to bring it back to the store for an exchange or refund.

says …

@Mary We don’t allow our birds to be fed any animal by-product and they will need protein in their diet so they use soy as a protein supplement.

says …

@Jenifer Our heirloom birds do have access to the outdoors and the Diestel Heirloom is organic.

says …

@Brent The majority of our turkeys are in the store by Sunday prior to Thanksgiving so you can pick them up any time after that. Theo, our resident meat expert recommends that you set your fridge at a slightly lower temperature than usual and put your turkey in a leakproof dish at the bottom of the fridge. We are open on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, but I would check with your local store since some of the stores have extended their opening hours for Thanksgiving.

Hollybygolly says …

I read in Cooks Illustrated that sometimes a frozen turkey is more moist than a fresh because a fresh turkey is chilled to 26-30 degrees which form tiny ice crystals in the meat. Then if the temperature fluctuates (at market or on way home) the crystals can melt, combine with neighboring crystals, and then refreeze. These irregularly shaped ice crystals will start to poke the cell membranes in the meat, make holes and the cell tissues in the muscles will start to lose their internal contents. Then when they are cooked, the bird will be dry. If I buy a frozen turkey how long should I let it defrost in the freezer?

says …

@John http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/holidays/guides/turkey.php When ordering your whole turkey, allow at least 1 pound per person, plus 1/2 pound per person for leftovers. (Remember to take into account the size of your fridge and oven!) For turkey breast, plan on 3/4 pound per person. If it is a boneless breast, allow 1/2 pound per person.

Tom Knapp says …

W are trying a Bronze heritage turkey for the first time, 12 or 13 pounds. Your chart says these "take much less time to cook." Can you give more detail What would be approx. time and temp. and what temp would you set the oven probe at? Thanks.

Sue says …

Re: the oven-ready boneless turkey breast cooking time: it took almost 2 hours at 350 degrees. I think it would be helpful in the future if Whole Foods listed the weight of each turkey breast and an estimate of cooking times. The 160 degree instruction is good, but doesn't help in planning the cooking time. Thanks. It was delicious, and I plan to order it again at Christmas.

Adrian says …

Interesting note about companies who freeze turkeys for months. I did not know this.

Chef KV says …

32 degree is freezing correct? "Now, you may see ice on our fresh birds because we chill them below 30°F to keep them safe and fresh, but they aren’t frozen." just checking to make sure global warming hasn't changed that

Mike says …

I'm trying to avoid buying a roasting pan so I ordered a cooked turkey breast from my local Whole Foods. I should have asked: will I need a roasting pan to cook this?

john says …

I havent seen how to choose the size (pounds), what is the rule, is it one pound per person?

Audra Blake says …

Is it too late to order a turkey from one of your stores, and am I able to do the ordering online, instead of visiting a store in person?

Mary Kornman says …

Diestel Turkey are fed corn and soy. Soy is not a natural diet for turkeys. Do you sell any grain fed turkeys?

says …

@Chef KV While the freezing temperature of water is 32°F (and no, to our knowledge global warming hasn’t changed that!), the freezing temperature of foods is lower. Any turkey labeled “fresh” in a food store has never been cooled to a temperature lower than 26°F, which is the point that turkey meat begins to freeze. A turkey labeled “frozen” must be cooled to a temperature of 0°F or below. Hope this helps answer your question.

Liz says …

Are any of the turkeys free range?

Brent says …

So when should I purchase a fresh one? How should I store it if I purchase it ahead of time? Can I come to Whole Foods the day of or night before and pick one up/order ahead?

Jenifer Kwasniewski says …

I am considering purchasing an heirloom turkey this Thanksgiving. I would like to know if those turkeys have access to the outdoors, if they are fed organic feed and how such turkeys are slaughtered. I appreciate your reply.

says …

@Hollybygolly Frozen turkeys should be defrosted in the refrigerator for two days prior to cooking (larger turkeys may require more time).

says …

@Audra Ordering deadlines vary between stores. Find more info about your stores online ordering at: http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/holidays

Torja says …

I bought a fresh kosher turkey from Whole Foods on Wed, Nov 18. The sell by date says Fri, Nov 27. Is it safe to keep it in the refrigerator until then, or should I put it in the freezer for now and then defrost in the fridge 2 days prior to Thanksgiving? Thanks!

Jennifer says …

I have ordered the Traditional Dinner with the whole-roasted Diestel turkey. I understand it has no added solutions, but can you please confirm it is completely gluten free?

says …

As per USDA guidelines, fresh turkeys should be stored in a refrigerator for up to 1-2 days and in the freezer for up to 12 months. http://www.fsis.usda.gov/Fact_Sheets/turkey_from_farm_to_table/index.asp

Joanne says …

I have ordered an Heirloom turkey, should I brine it first? In your breakdown you state that an Heirloom turkey cooks faster, please give me an idea how long a 14 lbs turkey should take to cook.

David says …

If I buy one of the Diestel 10 lb fresh turkeys today (Sunday) I am nervous of keeping it in the refrigerator until cooking time on Thursday (4 days later). Should I freeze it for a couple days and then start to defrost the turkey starting Tuesday? Two days seems to be the time to thaw a 10 lb turkey.

says …

@Joanne - For a 14 pounder, you are looking at about 3 1/2 hours of cooking time.

Ron says …

Which do you recommend the Herb Rubbed or the Brined? Which one is more flavorfully? Also do you recommend convection roast or just using the regular oven for your turkeys?

says …

Herb rubbed or brined - it's up to you! As for oven, it's probably easiest to work with what you've already got, though convection ovens often promote more even cooking in general.

bob R says …

I just purchased a fesh uncooked turkey from you. When i opened it up, the neck pleaced inside the body of the bird has ice on it. I can understand some ice on the surface, but i think if its frozen inside it was not chilled right. comments please ?

Lyn says …

I am looking for low sodium turkey (turkey breast preferred), but everything I have seen so far has too much sodium. Many have brine injected or packaged with the turkey. Do you sell any brands that do not have added sodium?

Donna says …

I need to know if these turkeys are absolutely gluten free????????

says …

@Donna It sounds like you need this information for allergy or medical reasons. In this case, it's best to consult your community Whole Foods Market. To reach them please follow the link below to obtain their contact information. The Meat Department at your store will be happy to chat with you about our Turkeys. www.wholefoodsmarket.com/stores

says …

@Nick To check the availability of birds and bird sizes at your store, I recommend that you check out the online shopping site for your store. You can find that by clicking on the link below. Most stores offer a bird that's 10-12 lbs as their smallest bird. If you'd like a smaller portion than that, we also sell just the turkey breast both prepared and unprepared. Those options should also be available through the online store. Thanks for reaching out. www.wholefoodsmarket.com/shop

nick says …

we just need a very small turkey - what is the smallest size you have?

HoteisFlorianopolis says …

Hello there, I found your site via Google while looking for a related topic and your site came up, it looks excellent. I have bookmarked it and will return.

Barbara Jolley says …

What information is available on the handling of the turkeys, if they are free-range, and how humanely they are killed? Thank you.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@BARBARA - You can find helpful information on one of our more recent blog posts at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/blog/latest-gobble-turkeys-are-step-rated. You will then have the option of clicking on the site for further information on our GAP Rating Program.

Ruby says …

Are your turkeys free range?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@RUBY - Since our turkey vendors differ between stores, check with your local store for details.

Irene Bahr says …

Your turkey chart will not open or enlarge and therefore cannot be read. Please send. thaks.

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@IRENE - Since this is an older post, I am unable to find a copy of the image. You can find all sorts of tips about turkeys on our website at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/bestholidayever/guide-to-turkey.

tink gibson says …

where can I get a 25+ LB frozen turkey

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@TINK - You can check online as to what is still available at your local store by checking online at http://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/online-ordering.

Silas says …

Are your "free range" turkeys fresh or frozen? Is there thawing time required?

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SILAS - Our vendors differ between store locations. Check with your local store to find out how the birds arrive.

Sarah Rosner says …

I purchased a Pre-Brined Turkey from Whole Foods 2 Days ago. It appears to be packed in a double-plastic bag in its own juices; no extra liquid is apparent. Can I brine it again for 24 hours before roasting? Any special cooking instructions w a pre-brined bird? Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving!

Nikki - Community Moderator says …

@SARAH - I would suggest calling the store directly where you purchased your turkey. Since we have different vendors, the store will have the best recommendations!

david grossfeld says …

I bought your pre brined fresh turkey three days ago for my thanksgiving dinner. I prepared it like all other turkeys every other year. I roasted the turkey for the appropriate time and when carving it, I discovered to my dismay the meat was pink like ham. I at first thought it was not cooked, and my guests had to wait while I put the turkey back into the oven. In fact, the meat was done but had a peculiar consistency. color and taste, more like ham! It also had a spicy flavor(like ham!) What gives?

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