Can you freeze ground turkey? What is the right way to do it? Get your answers to all that and lots more right here! Buying in bulk has many benefits- it can help you store some of the best seasonal produce that can last you throughout the year, and can also help you save a few bucks on your total grocery bill.
One thing in particular, that you need to be careful about when it comes to doing that is, storing your produce the right way.
Bulk buying ground turkey is great for many reasons- it can be an excellent base for your delicious meals, and is super versatile and easy to work with. If you’re doing that, you might have a few questions- can you freeze ground turkey, how you should be doing it, and for how long can you do it.
If that’s the case, here’s clearing things up for you. Read on to discover your ultimate resource guide to everything you need to know about freezing ground turkey the right way.
How Do I Freeze Ground Turkey?
The freezing process for the ground turkey you just bought from the store is pretty simple. You’ll need to ensure that the meat is in its original package and hasn’t been in the refrigerator for more than 2 days after you got it from the store.
You’ll also need to be careful about how you wrap and freeze the turkey. Remember that the fresher the meat, the better its nutritional value, and the longer it is likely to last in your freezer.
How Do I Wrap Ground Turkey?
Covering the raw ground turkey you just bought from the supermarket is actually important, even when it already has a plastic wrap. This additional step actually helps prevent freezer burn and preserves the freshness and flavor of the meat.
You can wrap the package in heavy-duty aluminum foil and then transfer it to a freezer-safe bag, an airtight container, or just a Ziploc bag. Remember not to remove the packaging around the raw meat. Once the uncooked meat comes in contact with air, it will initiate bacterial growth.
Can I Use a Freezer Safe Container?
Yes, you can! Freezer-safe containers are great for storing all kinds of ground meat- ground beef and ground chicken too. You can also use these containers to store your cooked turkey, turkey breasts, and any other type of meat.
Should I Use a Freezer Bag?
Yes, you can. In fact, it is highly recommended, especially if you tend to buy things in bulk and freeze them for later. Using a freezer-specific plastic bag instead of a freezer-safe container can help you save a lot of space, and it also gives you a chance to store much more in the limited space that you have. And of course, it also helps prevent freezer burn.
How Long Can I Freeze Ground Turkey?
Your batch of ground turkey can be frozen for up to a year. It stays at its peak, fresh condition for anywhere between 3-6 months. After that, the quality and freshness of the meat start to go down- you can still consume it safely though.
How Can I Tell if Frozen Ground Turkey Has Turned Bad?
There are three specific signs you need to keep an eye out for to check if your frozen ground turkey has gone bad.
Ground turkey, interestingly, has little to no smell. If you just got a batch of ground turkey out of the freezer, and it seems to have a strong odor that is off or unpleasant, it is a sign that the turkey has gone bad.
Remember that spoiled ground turkey is the ideal space for bacterial growth including harmful bacteria like e.coli and salmonella that have been known to cause food poisoning, which is why it is best to throw the turkey away. This is often the first sign and the easiest way to check if your turkey has gone bad.
An abnormal texture is another clear sign of spoilage in not just ground turkey meat, but almost all foods. If, after defrosting, the ground turkey feels weird to touch or has a slimy texture, chances are, it has gone bad.
Apart from the texture and smell, a change in the color of your thawed turkey meat is also a telltale sign of your turkey meat going bad.
This sign is, however, trickier than the rest. Why? Well, that is simply because there is no universal color chart to follow and check if the meat is fresh or gone bad- it largely depends on what the color of the meat was when you got it from the supermarket, and what it is after defrosting.
A good way to determine if your turkey meat is fresh (apart from checking the date on the packaging) is that the meat will have a pink color. Pink-colored turkey meat is often the freshest and has the longest expiry date.
Apart from these, another way to detect bacterial growth and spoilage of your frozen ground turkey meat is to check the packaging once you get it out. If the bag in which the raw ground meat has been stored appears puffed up, it is most likely spoiled.
How Should I Defrost Ground Turkey?
Ready to start using fresh ground turkey to make your healthy meal? There are quite a few different ways you can defrost frozen meat.
- You can transfer the meat from the freezer to the refrigerator and let it stay there overnight. Make sure you place the package in a tray or a medium-sized bowl to prevent the water released thawing from pooling in your refrigerator.
- The safest way to quickly defrost the ground turkey meat is to transfer it to a microwave-safe dish and then defrost it keeping the power level at 50 percent.
- Not so keen on using the microwave? You can just pop the package in a bowl of cold water. This should take about 1 hour per pound of turkey.
While setting the frozen ground turkey on your kitchen countertop and letting it defrost might seem ideal, it is actually pretty dangerous. Doing this will cause the meat to defrost unevenly, and the defrosted parts will start to become a site for bacterial growth.
Tips to Freeze and Defrost Ground Turkey the Right Way
Got a big batch of ground turkey? Getting it all sorted can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Follow these little tips and hacks to maximize its shelf life.
- Start by picking the freshest ground turkey you can find. Make sure you double-check the date on the packaging and avoid picking packages that have crossed their sell-by date.
- Once you are ready to freeze the turkey, mark the package or the container with the date you are freezing it on. This will be particularly helpful if you are planning to buy and freeze the meat on different dates.
- Do not get the thawed turkey out at room temperature or on the kitchen counter if you aren’t ready to use it for cooking within an hour.
- If the frozen meat has been thawed in the refrigerator, you can let it stay there for up to 2 days. However, if you have used a microwave to defrost the meat, or have thawed using the cold water technique, it should be cooked and consumed immediately.
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