All equipment used for thawing, storing, preparing and serving turkey must be clean. Keep the following in mind when handling raw turkey:
- Wash hands thoroughly with hot soapy water for 20 seconds before, during and after handling and preparing raw turkey.
- Discard all wrappings that have been used to store raw turkey.
- Cutting boards used for preparing turkey must be in good condition. Cracks and crevices can harbour bacteria.
- Thoroughly wash all equipment, work surfaces and sink with hot soapy water after preparing raw turkey. Cutting boards should be scrubbed with a stiff brush. Follow by rinsing all equipment, work surfaces and sink with a solution of 1 tbsp (15 mL) chlorine bleach per quart (litre) of water.
- Air-dry to prevent recontamination of equipment, work surfaces and sink.
- Launder dishcloths and towels with hot water, detergent and chlorine bleach after handling raw turkey.
Use a clean plate for serving cooked turkey.
How to Thaw Turkey
Do not thaw turkey at room temperature. To thaw turkey safely, use one of the following methods:
Refrigerator Method Leave the turkey in original wrapping. Place it on a tray and refrigerate. Allow a minimum of 10 hours/kg (5 hours/pound) for thawing.
Cold Water Method Leave the turkey in its original wrapping. Place it in a large container filled with cold water. As the turkey will float, cover the surface with a clean damp tea towel. Change water frequently to ensure it remains cold. Allow a minimum of 2 hours/kg (1 hour/pound) for thawing. Do not leave it in cold water overnight. If the turkey needs to continue thawing overnight, remove turkey from cold water, place it on a tray and refrigerate.
When the turkey is thawed, remove the giblets and neck from its cavities. Wash turkey in cold salted water; pat dry with paper towels. Place on a tray, cover with damp paper towels and plastic wrap; refrigerate until ready to cook. Cook turkey and giblets within 24 hours.
Do not refreeze thawed raw turkey.
Cook thawed turkey, including giblets and neck, within 24 hours.
How to Store Cooked Turkey
Turkey meat should be removed from the carcass as soon as possible. Cover and refrigerate meat for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.
If making soup, use the carcass within 24 hours or freeze for up to 1 month.
Leftover gravy may be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.
Turkey stuffing that has been cooked separately from the turkey may be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 1 month. Reheat stuffing from the frozen state and serve immediately.
Turkey gravy may be refrigerated for up to 2 days or frozen for up to 1 month.