Thanksgiving dinners would never be complete without a scrumptious roasted turkey breast. And usually, after the holidays, leftover turkeys end up in freezers. But how long will a frozen turkey breast, cooked or raw, be considered safe to consume? We've looked into this to bring you the answer.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests that a frozen whole turkey be stored in a freezer for approximately 12 months. Frozen turkey parts, including breast, can be kept for approximately 9 months in the freezer. And for a cooked turkey, it can be stored within 2-6 months in the freezer for the best quality.
Authorities have given recommendations on how to properly store and handle turkey meat, especially now that the holiday season is just around the corner. Continue reading to learn more about how to properly store turkey in order to ensure your family’s health.
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How Long A Turkey Breast Lasts In The Freezer
More than food, the primary consideration of most people nowadays is health. The holiday season is imminent, a lot of people, as early as now, are preparing for the awaited “most wonderful time of the year” again. Roasted turkey or turkey breast, as a Thanksgiving Day staple, is always present at dinner tables. That is why it is very important to know how to store them properly in order to avoid food-related illnesses.
Aside from the usual handwashing before and after handling of food, one should also put in mind how to properly keep the food fresh and safe to eat.
Freezers are used in the food industry to preserve meat products. With the influx of demand from consumers for whole turkeys and turkey breasts at this time of the year, grocery stores tend to stock up on their supply in order to meet demands. However, how sure are we that the turkey we bought from the grocery store is still safe to consume?
Frozen uncooked turkeys, including their parts (breast, wings, etc.), should only be kept in freezers for a year only in order to guarantee their quality and freshness. No one wants to celebrate the holiday season sick, thus it is always better to be safe than sorry.
Thawing also plays a major role in securing the turkey’s overall quality. When a frozen turkey breast has been thawed, make sure to cook it within 2 days. The whole process of securing the best quality of turkey meat does not only involve thawing, a lot has to be done in order to meet the standard set by the health authorities as to the proper storage and preparation of turkeys.
From the wrapping of the turkey, the standard temperature needed in order to preserve the meat (at or below 0°F), up to the cooking process — all is important to secure the sanitation of the preparation.
To look further and understand fully the importance of proper food storage, especially with raw and uncooked whole turkey and turkey breasts, below are some related questions with regard to the topic. These questions will surely help you with your preparations at home in order to better your game in storing meat.
How to freeze raw turkey
According to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the proper and safe way to store whole raw turkey in the freezer is to leave it on its original wrapping. For uncooked turkey parts, make sure to wrap them in freezer wraps or tightly sealed freezer bags before storing them. Make sure to put a package date for each bag as well.
What is the best way to freeze cooked turkey breast?
The best way to freeze cooked turkey breasts is to wrap them in freezer wraps or tightly sealed freezer bags. Also, do not forget to indicate the package date in each bag. This is to ensure the quality and safety of the meat.
How long does cooked turkey breast last in the freezer?
As mentioned above, cooked turkey breast lasts in the freezer for more or less two to six months.
How long does it take a turkey breast to thaw in the fridge?
The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) issued guidelines on refrigerator thawing time. The recommended refrigerator thawing for a whole turkey, including its parts (breast, wings, etc.), would greatly depend on its weight. Below are the guidelines for refrigerator thawing:
- 4 to 12 pounds — 1 to 3 days
- 12 to 16 pounds — 3 to 4 days
- 16 to 20 pounds — 4 to 5 days
- 20 to 24 pounds —5 to 6 days
Apparently, bigger turkeys need a longer time to thaw. Thus, you should always thaw your turkey ahead of time, more or less three days, if you wish to cook it.
Can you leave a whole turkey out to thaw overnight?
It is not recommended to leave a whole turkey out to thaw overnight. In fact, as stated in published guidelines, turkeys must only be thawed in three ways, namely: in the refrigerator, microwave oven, and cold water.
Thawing, as part of the process for roasting or cooking turkey, should be done properly for the consumers’ safety. Hence, you cannot leave a whole turkey out to thaw overnight.
How can you tell if a frozen turkey is bad?
One can tell if the turkey is already bad or is completely not suitable for human consumption when the smell is foul or the texture of the meat is slimy.
Most often than not, people would know if a food is already spoiled, especially with meat. Rancid meat always has a pungent smell, sour taste, and sticky texture. The color of the meat itself will also tell you that it is no longer safe to eat.
To sum it all up, the recommended length of time for a turkey breast to last in the freezer is for approximately 9 months. A whole turkey, on the other hand, can be stored for 12 months from packaging. For a cooked turkey, whole or breast, the guideline suggests that it can be stored in the freezer for 2-6 months.