While there are different methods for thawing frozen food, no method is safer than thawing food slowly inside the refrigerator. If you want to know how long to thaw a 20-pound turkey before preparing it, you’ve come to the right post as we will teach you the proper thawing times for different weights of the bird. And should you defrost a turkey in the microwave?
How Long To Thaw Turkey in Fridge?
How to thaw a turkey overnight? Leaving a turkey to thaw overnight is one of the easiest but time-consuming methods of thawing a big bird. Still, it remains the most highly recommended by medical practitioners because it presents the lowest risk of bacterial growth. Thawing meat as voluminous as turkey at room temperature is never a good idea because of the possibility of bacterial contamination.
You will need to wait 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey weight. So if your turkey is 10 pounds, the thawing time will be 48 hours, and so on. A 20-pound turkey will require approximately four days of thawing before preparation. Place the bird on a large baking pan to catch any juices that may be released as it thaws inside the refrigerator.
Do not remove the turkey from its original container or wrapping. Yes, this may slow down thawing, but the plastic cover also protects the raw bird from bacteria that may be swirling around the refrigerator. This is also the reason why it is a good idea to clean your fridge at least once a week to arrest the spread of germs in it.
Your turkey should be placed breast side up on the baking tray and allowed to thaw completely before cooking. A thawed turkey (uncooked) may be stored in the refrigerator for a maximum of two days before cooking. Do not store thawed or poultry in the fridge for a week or more as the uncooked meat becomes unsafe for human consumption.
Why is it a good idea to thaw meat inside the refrigerator?
It’s all about bacterial growth. Bacteria thrive in room temperature and warmer temperatures, and it is easy to confirm this with a bacterial swab test. Bacteria proliferate quickly when temperatures are ideal.
The problem is that we can’t see bacteria, and they don’t always smell bad (in the beginning), so many people still defrost their frozen meat out at room temperature.
Sure, not everyone gets sick, but this is mostly Russian roulette with your health. Some people’s immune systems are more reliable, so they can deal with any remnant bacteria on food. But what about those with weaker constitute and immune systems? They might get sick.
Thawing your food in the refrigerator can help reduce the chances of food poisoning due to bacteria in the meat. According to Professor Costas Stathopoulos of Abertay University, people should remember the following reminders when preparing and cooking frozen food:
- Thawing frozen food is imperative; people must always properly thaw food before cooking and eating it.
- Thawing food in the refrigerator is the safest method of thawing.
- If you need to defrost something in the microwave, do so, but only after thoroughly reading the microwave cooking/defrosting instructions on the product package. In the case of large birds like turkey, you need to be extra careful.
- Bacteria can proliferate at room temperature, even if the rest of the food is still cold.
- Bacterial growth is paused in colder temperatures, but the bacteria can be quickly revived at room temperature. The trick is to keep the ambient temperature cold but below freezing temperature so the meat can thaw safely. The frost will be removed after several hours, but the bacterial growth will continue to be arrested or paused.
- All kinds of defrosted food, including items like pizza rolls and frozen dinners, still need to be thoroughly cooked before being consumed.
- It is entirely found to break up food with a fork while it is defrosting. Of course, you can’t do this if you are thawing turkey, but it does work with other kinds of food.
- All frozen food that has been thawed out must be cooked and consumed immediately. Do not, under any circumstance, refreeze thawed out food again. Medical tests show that refreezing food can cause an unprecedented growth of bacteria, which can cause foodborne illnesses.
And here are some additional guidelines on freezing food:
- Cooked food should be icy before it is put in the freezer.
- Planning is the key, so you do not run out of time while defrosting something. Aim to defrost meat a day before it is needed so you won’t have to resort to other methods of thawing meat.
- Refreezing uncooked meat is not an option. However, you can freeze the meat after it has been cooked. These are two different things. Rapid bacterial growth can occur when you refreeze meat after thawing it out.
- Frozen meats can be placed on a tray and then placed on the bottom of the refrigerator to thaw. There should always be a catch tray to prevent juices from dripping all over the floor off the fridge and on other food.
- All thawed out food items should be piping hot before being consumed. Otherwise, continue heating and cooking until all the cold has dissipated.
- Food can be frozen indefinitely, but the ice crystal damage can occur over time. What this means is that food will deteriorate, and you will begin to notice odors and taste that is off for that particular type of food.
- Thawed out food will spoil the same way as freshly prepared and cooked food.
Ideally, you should cook thawed meat within 24 hours of readiness.