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Have you ever bought some turkey and realised that you won’t be able to eat it all before the expiration date? Or are you trying to figure out how long in advance before Christmas you can grab the centrepiece of dinner? If so, then, like with rotisserie chicken, you may be wondering, how long is ground turkey good in the freezer?
Table of Contents
- Why Would You Freeze Ground Turkey?
- How To Tell If Your Turkey Is Good Or Bad?
- Properly Storing Turkey In Your Freezer
- How Long Is Frozen Turkey Good For?
- Defrosting Raw Frozen Turkey
- So How Long Can You Freeze Ground Turkey?
- FAQ – Frozen Ground Turkey
Why Would You Freeze Ground Turkey?
Like with any food, the reason to freeze ground turkey or indeed any other ground meat is in order to make it last longer.
This can be for a multitude of reasons such as having an excess of raw turkey you won’t get through or you just wish to have some frozen meat ready for future use. For example, whilst this won’t be ground turkey typically, you may wish to buy a whole turkey way in advance of Christmas and freeze it.
Whilst you may not store ground turkey in the freezer for a special occasion, a similar principle applies. However, you may be wondering why to not just use the fridge instead of the freezer.
How Long Does Ground Turkey Last In The Fridge?
If keeping turkey in the fridge it should be cooked immediately or within two days at most. This will ensure that it is consumed at its freshest possible state.
Once cooked though it should be covered and allowed to fully cool before being refrigerated in order to prevent more rapid bacterial growth. Once refrigerated though your cooked turkey should be properly stored within an airtight container and consumed within three to four days.
How To Tell If Your Turkey Is Good Or Bad?
In the majority of cases, it should be pretty obvious whether your ground turkey is fit for human consumption or not. Typically, if only kept for the recommended times in your fridge and if you keep your meat stored properly you should be safe. However, if you notice any of the following signs or indeed anything else suspect you’re best throwing it away:
- Slimy Texture: Like all meat, when turkey becomes slimy in texture this is a telltale sign that it has gone off.
- Discolouration: Normally turkey should be white or very pale pink in colour when fresh. However, when it has gone bad it will instead appear a grey/green colour.
- Mould: A classic giveaway that any food is well and truly past being edible. Typically this will appear as blue, green or pale white areas. However, it may also be seen as a fuzzy texture or the presence of fungi.
- Off Smell: Often the first thing you’ll notice when any food is off is the smell. This will most likely be a sour or tangy odour reminiscent of ammonia or even urine in some cases.
Properly Storing Turkey In Your Freezer
When freezing turkey or indeed any other frozen foods it is important to ensure that they are stored properly and kept at sub-zero temperatures.
When storing, freezer bags, plastic wrap or Tupperware containers are best used. This is because something like foil may leak juices that would contaminate other foodstuffs in your freezer.
For ground turkey, this can be a simple process. However, with a whole turkey, it is best to carve it into smaller parts before freezing, just as you would a rotisserie chicken.
How Long Is Frozen Turkey Good For?
Frozen raw turkey if frozen and stored properly, and so long as it was fresh upon being frozen cast last near enough indefinitely. This is because whilst the extreme cold of the freezer won’t kill bacteria, it will great inhibit bacteria’s capability to multiply.
That said though, like any frozen food, the turkey will eventually depreciate in quality when frozen for long enough. This will display itself in freezer burn which is essentially a dried-out patches on your turkey.
Whilst safe to eat this will not be the best quality meat, as such, it is best to eat turkey within four months of freezing. Meanwhile, whilst it may be potentially safe indefinitely, you should really only keep frozen turkey for up to a year at most to be sure.
Defrosting Raw Frozen Turkey
When defrosting raw frozen turkey, or indeed any meat it is crucial to ensure that it defrosts all the way through. This is because when cooking it partially defrosted meat will not cook evenly which may lead to food poisoning and/or a worse tasting.
With that in mind to be certain that your turkey meat has been completely thawed it is best to thaw it slowly using the following method:
The Fridge Method Of Thawing Frozen Turkey
The method that often produces the best results is to gradually thaw your turkey in the refrigerator. To do this, simply remove your turkey from the freezer and put it in your refrigerator.
Once this is done you should leave it alone until it has fully thawed out before cooking.
Fridge thawing method requires very little oversight meaning that all you need to do is leave the turkey to defrost. However, this method should only be used when planning to defrost food in advance. The reason is that even ground turkey will take at least twenty-four hours to fully thaw.
With a whole turkey though, this wait will be even longer, with your meat typically defrosting at the rate of roughly four pounds a day. As such, when defrosting the turkey in this manner, it is crucial to take the weight of the bird into account.
Thawing Frozen Turkey In The Microwave
On the opposite side of the spectrum, however, you can opt to defrost your turkey much more quickly by using the microwave. This may not be possible for a large amount of turkey as it is unlikely to fit but for smaller sections, the microwave is a quick and easy way to defrost the turkey.
To do this, simply remove all the original packaging and place your turkey into a microwave-safe dish. Following which use the defrost setting in increments of ten minutes until the turkey is defrosted. If your microwave doesn’t have a defrost setting, then do five-minute increments instead. Immediately after thawing, you should begin cooking your turkey.
This method is incredibly quick and useful when you have limited time. However, the quality of your turkey will invariably be affected negatively. This is because even on the defrost setting you may find the microwave has started to slightly cook parts of the turkey and not others.
Thawing Frozen Turkey In Cold Water
The middle ground between the two previous options is to defrost your turkey by immersing it in a bowl of cold tap water. This method will be quicker than the fridge but require you to pay more attention to it. However, it will also be slower than the microwave whilst requiring you to be less attentive.
To use this method, simply put your turkey in waterproof and airtight wrapping and immerse it in the cold water. Then every thirty minutes change out the cold water until your turkey has defrosted. Like with the microwave method though the turkey should be cooked immediately once defrosted to prevent rapid bacterial growth.
So How Long Can You Freeze Ground Turkey?
Ground turkey and turkey in general can in theory be frozen for an indefinite period of time. However, to be completely safe, you are best to use it within one year. Additionally, whilst it will be safe for this period of time, after roughly four months it will begin to deteriorate in quality. As such it should be thawed, cooked and eaten as soon as possible.
When thawing though, whether in the fridge, microwave or in cold water ensure that your turkey is fully defrosted before cooking. After all, we don’t want anyone getting ill, do we?
FAQ – Frozen Ground Turkey
How can you tell if frozen ground turkey is bad?
Signs that turkey has gone bad include the presence of mould, a foul odour, discolouration or if it has a slimy texture to it. As such, if you notice any of these signs then you should immediately dispose of the turkey.
How long can raw ground turkey stay in freezer?
Raw ground turkey can stay in your freezer for an indefinite period of time so long as it was frozen when fresh, has not been exposed to air and remained frozen the entire duration. That said though after four months the quality of the turkey will likely have deteriorated, whilst on average due to external factors frozen turkey typically won’t last longer than a year.
Is it safe to eat a turkey frozen for 2 years?
So long as the turkey has been kept frozen the entire time, was frozen whilst fresh and is stored in an airtight container it should be safe to eat. However, it will have probably deteriorated in quality significantly after two years making it less than appetising to eat.
How long is turkey safe in freezer?
In theory, a turkey will be safe to eat indefinitely so long as has been kept frozen the entire time, was frozen whilst fresh and is stored in an airtight container. However, in practice, this is rarely the case. As such it will likely only be safe to consume for a year at most.