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Any tips on turkey processing and preparation?  RSS feed

 
pollinator
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Its that time of year, and a first for me (raising a thanksgiving turkey)  Any tips would be appreciated.  Butchering advice is great, but also looking for the preparation/cooking side of things if different than store bought turkeys.

Axe the head off like a chicken? Do they go limp when upside down like a chicken?

Cows are "aged" by hanging. Should this be done with turkeys? If so, how, and for how long. My thought is to refrigerate it for a week.

Is brining beneficial? If so, instructions would be appreciated.

Anything else i may not have considered?



 
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Glad to offer my limited advice - I'm a turkey hunter, but not yet a turkey farmer, so I only cook maybe 2 wild birds a year and one or two from the store.  The store birds never taste right, so I plan to start raising my own soon, as well.  That said, I can't offer any specific advice on killing your bird.  Plucking is not too hard with turkeys.  Be sure to save the organ meats.  I always use them in a traditional southern turkey dressing, sometimes adding sausage, as well.  For that, just boil the liver briefly and remove to a plate.  Then add the neck, gizzards and heart and low boil until he meat comes easily off the neck.   Chop the boiled meat and liver, chop onions, celery and green pepper (if you like), mix together with chunks of stale (or not so stale) bread and cornbread, add crumbled, browned sausage if you like... and maybe some oysters.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Toss in a dash of thyme and sage.  Mix well.  Add your turkey broth unit it has soaked up all it can. Bake in a casserole or baking pan until solid and nicely browned on top.

I like to brine my birds.  Take a 5 gallon, food grad bucket.  Fill about half way with ice.  Boil a gallon of water and dissolve into it as much salt as it will take.  Dump that into the ice.  Make sure it is nice and cool - add more ice if needed.  Brine your bird 12-24 hours in the fridge.  If it won't fit in the fridge, keep it cold by putting frozen plastic bottles of water in it.  The bird must stay under water, so a frozen gallon jug of water on top can serve two purposes. You can flavor the brine with other ingredients, but I usually don't.  A lot of people like to add sugar to their brine... I don't.

Dry your bird.  Preheat the oven.  Work thyme, black pepper and parsley into two sticks of softened butter. Stick your fingers under the skin above the breasts and loosen it.  Stuff herbed butter under the skin.  Pop a halved onion, a rib of celery with the tops leaves on, a halved green apple and maybe a few sprigs of fresh thyme, tarragon or fennel in the cavity. 

Roast until done.  Or, if you smoke your turkey do all of the above, but instead of using butter under the skin, cover the breasts with a whole rasher of bacon.... awesome! 
 
gardener
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That sounds delicious Wj.

We enjoy a few wild turkeys each year (when the hunting gods allow). We usually cut them into parts (breast, thighs, drumsticks). Put in the pressure cooker/canner with vegetable broth, onions and ground pepper. Cook at 15 lbs for 90 min. Let pressure reduce and, when cool enough to handle, remove bones and leg tendons. Chop meat and freeze in small batches to use for turkey salad, soups, casseroles, omelets,etc.

I reuse the broth a couple of times. Freeze it between uses. Then use it to cook quinoa, rice or pasta.
 
Wj Carroll
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I forgot to mention that mushrooms are a really fantastic compliment to turkey!  Often times, I will fill the roasting pan around the bid with button mushrooms.  Aromatic mushrooms are even better.  On of the best turkeys I ever cooked.... probably the best I have ever eaten... was a smallish spring tom.  I was worried that he was too lean and wouldn't be enough meat on his own.  So, I waited to cook him until I had gathered some morels and a few pounds of chicken of the woods/sulfur shelf mushrooms.  I chopped the morels and mixed them into the herb butter described above.  That went under the skin.  I put a bed of chicken of the woods mushrooms under him and in the cavity.  I also had a lot of spring ramps - maybe a pound, total.  Those went in and all around.  I added some over wintered, chopped sweet potatoes, and I smeared bacon fat all over the bird.  I put some dark beer in the roasting pan.  While it was roasting, I shelled about a cup of pecans and close to another cup of hickory nuts and black walnuts (all bits and pieces, since I can never seem to get the knack of shelling them so they come out pretty).  During the last hour, I turned the oven down to 200 and added the nuts.  The nuts browned in the butter and bacon fat and picked up a little sweetness from the sweet potatoes.  All I ca say, was it turned out being one of those meals where I think what a shame it is that I a bachelor and no one gets to share my food..... but then again, it is all mine!
 
pollinator
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I've raised and processed many turkeys.  They are big and strong so a little more setup is beneficial as compared to chickens.  What I came around to as the best method is to tie the bird's feet together, and the put the bird into a burlap bag, with a hole cut in one corner, and then tie the bag shut and hang bag and bird from a tripod of poles such that the bird's head hung just near the chopping block.  Put your hand into the hole in the bag and work the bird's head out.  The block is a stout log with two nails driven in to hold the head in place.  By moving the bases of the tripod's poles a bit, the bird's location and height can be adjusted just so.  Then catch the head between the nails on the block and chop!  Have both hands on the hatchet....that neck is stouter than a chicken's!   If you let a turkey flop around on the ground, there will often be bruises on it, since it's so much heavier than a chicken....hanging in a bag prevents this.  It also permits the blood to be drained onto or into something....we would let it drain onto cracked corn and then feed this off to chickens, no sense wasting protein!   Turkeys will scald and pluck just fine, like chickens..you just need a much bigger pot!  
      After plucking and cleaning out the innards, the very best thing is to put the bird into the refrigerator, or other cold place, for a few days before cooking to allow for the beneficial "aging" or "hanging" stage.  This is especially important for free-range and wild birds, since the meat will be more tender and improved in flavor.
 
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Here's what we do.

Pluck it.  Gut it.  Make sure to get the Gizzard from the front.  We cook the organ meat that night and freeze the feet for stocks later.

Then we take our odd little bags of spices collected from throughout the year and mix them in a bucket of water to brine the Turkey overnight.  Then we smoke it.

We eat the dark meat for several meals and then turn the rest into smoked turkey rice soup.  Yum!
 
wayne fajkus
pollinator
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Thanks for the replies.  Sounds like slaughtering days before is no problem.  Current plan is doing it Sunday,  leave it refrigerated until wednesday, at which time ill brine it untill thursday morning.

I know for sure i have 1 male, but have a feeling the other 2 are males also. The only thing i found online is males get a spur above their feet. All 3 have what i think is a spur. But only one is strutting/fluffing The same one everday.

If there is a female i want to leave it to have babies.
 
wayne fajkus
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Doubt this helps with sexing, but here they are
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I started wet brining my turkeys in 2003 after reading a great article by Alton Brown (a food science guy) in Bon Appétit magazine.  I loved the results, and the beautiful, moist breast meat tempted even a die-hard dark meat lover like me.  Over the following years I tried all kinds of variations including apple juice as part of the liquid, herbs and spices in the brine, and sugar in the brine.  Eventually, I decided I just liked salt and water (but then I do put a few aromatics in the cavity for roasting time, like Wj Carroll suggests in his initial response).  Then, a couple years ago I read about dry brining, and tried that out.  Now, I will never wet brine another turkey, and will only use a wet brine for small cuts like pork chops or chicken pieces on their way to becoming fried chicken.  Wet brining's drawbacks are: dealing with the wet brine.  Now, it wasn't that big a deal, but it could be for someone.  For one, the container with the turkey and brine inside is very heavy.  Two, moving said container may result in messy sloshing.  Three, the skin doesn't get as crisp as I'd like with a wet brine.  According to Cook's Illustrated (a science-y food magazine), wet brining acts faster, so that may also come into play in deciding between the two.

I'll add that I've been ordering heritage breed turkeys for Thanksgiving for many years now, so my results are not based on a grocery store bird.

Last year, I followed this dry-brining method, with an interesting added ingredient (baking powder) to help crisp the skin, getting the bird salted up on Tuesday afternoon.  The photos show my results.  You can see that the skin of the pre-carved bird looks a little dull due to the baking powder, and I think I decided to cut down on the baking powder for next time, but boy was it tasty.  I suppose I could have shined it up with a quick swipe of melted butter, to make it prettier.  Also, I start my turkey breast side down for about the first 45-60 minutes of cooking.  This helps protect the breast meat from over-cooking. 


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pollinator
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12-24 hours for brining is not very long. Typically for store bought meat, I will brine a turkey for 3-5 days. Pasture raised meat usually requires longer, 5-7 days. My standard brine is fairly mild, 2 Tbsp. salt, 2 Tbsp. sugar per quart of water, additional seasonings as desired, i.e. bay leaves, peppercorns.
 
wayne fajkus
pollinator
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So in essence its aging the same time its brining? Or kill it sooner and age it, then brine it?
 
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You may want to consider how it is best to kill the turkey. I have been a part of three seasons butchering with different people, two of them extremely experienced organic farmers, all of whom I respect. All of them choose to NOT chop heads off, which I guess sends stress into the muscles and nerves as the turkey spasms to death, making for less tender meat. The more humane way I have seen practiced three times now is to use some sort of a cone - a traffic cone hung upside down with the top cut off will work - and stuff the bird upside down into the cone so the head sticks out the bottom. Then without cutting the esophagus, slice the main neck artery firmly. This sends the bird into shock so it is not feeling anything from that point on as it bleeds out and dies. We always thank the bird also for its sacrifice.
 
Corrie Snell
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I have more tips/ideas to add, but thought it would be better to put them in a separate post.  I hope this doesn't start to sound too fussy, but I'd think if one's gone through all the trouble of raising and butchering one's own birds, one would would want the final product to taste FABULOUS!

I like roasting a whole bird because I enjoy the appearance of that whole, roasted bird...until I cut it up.  But, the dark meat and white meat really do require different cooking times, and even temperatures, to produce the best results.  That's where the breast-side down method from my previous post comes in.  Another idea (from Cook's Illustrated), is to ice down the breast meat with two plastic bags full of ice in a roasting pan, and one in the cavity, with the turkey sitting on the ice, breast-side down, out on the counter for one hour before roasting.  This recipe also instructs us to start the roasting breast-side down at 425° for 45 minutes (for a 12-14 pound bird).  Flip bird (I use a pair of tongs, or a long wooden spoon in the cavity, and my fingers at the neck), lowering oven temp to 325°, and continuing to roast for 1-1.5 hours, until breast is 160° and thighs are 170°.  Let rest 30 minutes before carving.

Back in 2014, Cook's Illustrated also did a Heritage Breed taste test and came up with a Heritage Breed-specific recipe, which instructs breaking down the bird, before roasting, into two whole legs, and the whole breast with wings attached, completely removing the backbone.  I'm sure this works great, but it would prevent me from having the pleasure of gazing upon the whole, roasted bird while it rests, so I have never tried it, but here it is: 

Start the legs (from a 10-12 pound, previously dry-brined bird), skin-side down, on a wire rack over baking sheet, in a 250° oven, and roast until the meat registers 140°, 45-75 minutes.  This low and slow start for the legs gets that well-exercised, collagen-rich dark meat tenderizing.  A quick Google search will give you all the information you want on how and when collagen breaks down into gelatin, and why this is a good, literally lip-smacking, thing.

Now, flip the legs to skin-side up, and add the breast piece to the rack, starting it skin-side down.  Continue cooking everything at 250° for one hour.  Flip the breast to skin-side up, and continue roasting until breast meat is 155° and thighs are 175°, 1 1/4-2 1/4 hours longer.  Let meat rest 30 minutes, or up to 60 minutes (this window would allow for the prepping/cooking of the other dishes, as the cooking times in this recipe have such a huge range...don't want those mashed potatoes going cold!).  Finally, raise oven temp to 500° and stack turkey onto a second baking sheet to prevent excess smoking, and roast until skin is golden brown and crispy, 10-15 minutes. Let it rest another 20 minutes, carve, and serve.

I will say that pulling the backbone out would be good for freeing it up to simmer with the neck and gizzard (get that started ASAP, even the night before), to make a more flavorful stock for the gravy.  Any aromatics you may want to add to the stock only need to be added the last hour or two, as they give up their flavor pretty quickly.  De-glaze those browned drippings (make sure they don't burn by adding an 1/8th cup of stock to the pan if it looks like they're getting close), then add a roux, and the rest of the strained stock.  Very important: if your turkey is pre-salted (wet-brined, or dry-brined), taste the gravy before adding any additional salt.

Speaking of stock, turkey stock is the BEST, and lip-smacking (from the collagen-turned-gelatin), deeply flavored turkey soup to use up leftover meat is something I admit to enjoying more than the big day meal itself.  Get the stock going before bed Thanksgiving night, if you're industrious, or the next day if you're not.  I'm going to do another post on stock, copying from an e-mail I sent to a cousin a few years ago.



*Everyone* knows about roasting a turkey in the oven, and plenty of people smoke turkeys, but what about doing it out on the kettle grill, with charcoal?  That's what my parents always did when I was a kid, and the memory of smoky gravy still haunts my dreams.  I've done it a couple times as an adult, but with these (expensive) heritage birds I've been doing, I have been a bit too intimidated to attempt it on the grill.  This year, I've ordered a couple small turkeys from a local small farm, and I'm even more intimidated to cook them.  They are raised free-range, but with supplemental grain, but have almost completely wild genetics.  The farmer said he allowed females of some heritage breed birds he had raised to mate with the wild turkeys here in CA, and raised the resulting chicks, keeping the females to repeat the next year...he's done this for a few years now.  I'm very excited to try it, but worried that it'll turn out tough and dry.  Knowing what I know about dry-brining, and slow cooking, though, I'm hoping for the best.  To complicate matters further, we're hoping to go camping for Thanksgiving (weather permitting), and I will do the bird on the Weber.  Wish me luck!

Happy Thanksgiving!
 
Corrie Snell
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So in essence its aging the same time its brining? Or kill it sooner and age it, then brine it?




I'm basing this response on having raised and slaughtered a few batches of chickens in the past, and the reading I did ahead of time (my only instruction!) said to let the chickens rest in the fridge for several days to age before freezing or cooking.  If I were in your place, I'd probably slaughter today or tomorrow, age in fridge, then get the dry-brine on Monday or Tuesday. 

During the aging, the way I understand it is that enzymes are beginning to break the meat down, and more flavorful, tender meat is the result (like dry-aged beef).  The second article I linked to (Serious Eats) in my first post explains what the salt is doing to the muscle proteins during the dry-brine period.

I'm pretty sure it was here on Permies that I recently read about someone keeping freshly killed poultry in the fridge for a good couple of weeks before it started going bad...ha! found it!  I'd bookmarked it: GOOD INFO FROM WES HUNTER

Tons more info there on processing birds from a very experienced person, although it's on chickens.
 
Corrie Snell
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For turkey stock.

I've copied and pasted an e-mail I wrote to a cousin a few years ago, and edited it for Permies.

After nearly 15 years of making stock several times per year (I make chicken and beef stock twice per year, each, and store it in my freezer for recipes, and during our time living in Morocco, even made lamb stock which was the secret to my deeply flavored tagines!), this is what I've come up with for making each step easier:

Here's what you'll need:

-Lots of ice (make a couple big ice cubes in bowls a couple days ahead)
-one big pot, to simmer the stock
-a smaller pot, or several pots, to strain the finished stock into
-pot-holders, or kitchen towels
-cheesecloth for straining the stock
-a colander, preferably metal, and which fits into the smaller pot, with its handles holding it up at the top, for straining the stock
-your turkey carcass, broken up
-water

-veggies for your soup:  WHATEVER YOU LIKE.  We love: kale, broccoli, mushrooms, carrots, celery, leeks...
-salt

Optional, for flavoring stock:
-a couple carrots
-a couple stalks of celery
-a couple yellow onions
-a bunch of fresh parsley
-a bunch of fresh thyme
-a couple bay leaves
-a small handful of peppercorns

Put the turkey carcass into the large pot, then fill the stockpot with water just until it covers the turkey bones.  Turkey and chicken bones float, so I like to weigh them down with a metal steamer basket flipped upside down on top, then weighed down with a small plate.  Turn on the burner to medium, and let it all come to a simmer slowly.  This can take a really long time.  Like a couple hours, if you have a huge pot.  Then, once you start seeing a few bubbles, turn down the heat.  You want to find the happy spot where the water keeps simmering very slowly, with only a bubble or two coming to the surface every few seconds.  Try to not let it come to a boil (but don't worry if it does, it's not ruined...I've walked away and forgot and had my stocks boil lots of times).  You may have to adjust several times through the day.

Some recipes will tell you to put the other flavor components in right at the beginning, but I don't.  I read that those small items release their flavor in a short period of time, so they can be put in towards the end.  Plus, they just get in the way in the beginning, because for the first three hours or so you'll be skimming all the little bits that float to the surface, and discarding them.  Every half an hour or so, check the stock to see if it needs to be skimmed.  Take a large spoon, and just skim the surface, then flick it into the garbage.  You don't have to be perfect, you're going to be straining the stock at the end, anyway. 

And so it goes, you spend a relaxing day at home, and your house begins to fill with a delicious smell.  I used to only simmer stock for a day, but now I do all my stocks for at least 24 hours, and have let them go up to 3 full days.  I try to let them go until the bones are soft, as I read that this indicates that minerals have been fully released into the stock.  I like this better, as now I don't have to be sure to get the stock going first thing in the morning, and tackle the straining and cooling right before bed.  I can start it and stop it at any time.

Get the additional aromatics into the stock for the final 2-3 hours.  I will say that these are, however, completely unnecessary...just traditional.  They'll add their flavor.  So, if you drink the stock straight, it will have all the veggie flavors in there, too.  But, it's perfectly delicious without them.  So, if economy is a concern, save those veggies to be consumed in the soup (as they will be completely mushy and nearly flavorless after 3 hours in the stock, and are strained out).  Cut up your carrots and celery into large chunks, about 4" long, and toss them in (take off the weights so that this stuff gets in the water).  Cut your yellow onions in half, leaving the skin ON (the brown skin adds a little color to the stock), and toss them in.  Toss in the entire bunch of parsley, the entire bunch of thyme, the bay leaves, and the peppercorns.  Put the weights back on to get everything below the surface of the water.  Add a touch more water, if necessary, to keep everything submerged.

Now the house will start to smell even better, as those things get simmered in.  You may need to increase the heat a bit because of the new, cold ingredients.

To strain, put the plug in your kitchen sink.  Put the biggest pot you have (after the one you made the stock in) into the sink.  Put a hot pad or oven mitt on the counter next to the sink.  Fold several layers of the cheesecloth until it's about the right size to cover the bottom and sides of the colander.  Rinse it under cold water, and squeeze it out (if it's wet, the stock passes through easier).  Place the cheesecloth into the colander, and place the colander into the pot in the sink.  Hopefully, the handles of the colander hold it up, with space underneath for the stock to drain.

Now, lift the stock pot and bring it over to the sink, and set it down on the oven mitt.
CAREFUL, THE STOCK IS BOILING LAVA HOT!!!

I like to leave the metal steamer basket on the bones and veggies to keep them in place.  If you don't have a metal steaming basket, and have just used a plate as a weight by itself, that will work, too.  Use a wooden spoon to hold it down as you tip the stock pot over and begin to pour the liquid through the strainer.  You may have to move the stockpot around a bit to get it in the right position so that you can easily, and slowly, tip it until it is sitting on its edge, between the bottom and the side, its weight supported on the counter.  This is tricky step, that is much easier with another pair of hands, but I've had to do it on my own many times.

TAKE IT SLOW SO THAT YOU DON'T GET SPLASHED WITH HOT LAVA! 

Strain every last drop of stock, and then compost all the bones and veggies in the pot.  The veggies will be flavorless, and very mushy.

Now, put your big ice cubes in the sink, not in the stock, and fill the sink with cold water.  Stir the ice water and stock every so often until it's cooled down.  Then, you can put it in the fridge.  It's important to cool the stock before putting it in the fridge because it could grow bad bacteria if it's left hot and covered.  And, because all that hot liquid will heat up everything else in your fridge for several hours before your fridge has a chance to get everything chilled.

You may want to reduce the stock (boil it down a bit) to make the flavor more concentrated.  I normally boil it down by an inch or two.  It's ok to let it boil hard now.  Then, chop up your veggies, and toss 'em in.  When they're cooked, toss in the turkey meat.  Once everything is hot, season it with salt, to your liking.  Now, Bon Appetit!
 
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This information is for anyone who finds themselves blessed with LOTS of turkey.

My dad and I were part of a turkey insemination crew on Friday nights during the winter when I was a teenager.  we had a circuit of turkey egg farms we serviced (to provide chicks for meat farms).  Since it was an egg farm they had no use for dead turkeys or infertile eggs and whoever was there could have them.  The process we used, assembly line style, stressed the birds.  We processed thousands of hens a night and maybe a hundred toms (The toms weren't as stressed, when they died it was usually a heart attack while fighting another tom, after we milked them they wanted to fight another bird).  If a bird died whoever got to it first would cut it's throat and hang it from a fence to drain until we went home a few hours later.  (if you found a dead bird just laying you didn't mess with it, you couldn't tell how long it had been there, it was a rare event).  When the weather was warming up I used to end up with a turkey every week or so, occasionally 2, sometimes a hen, sometimes a big 50 - 55 lb (23 -25 kg for those over the pond) tom (whole carcass, ungutted).  This was ok with us because I was the oldest in a large family.  My dad was a G.I.  and always had to have a side job just to make ends meet. 

There may be an oven somewhere that can hold a 55 lb bird, but not in any house I've ever lived in.  Also, baked turkey has a distinctive flavor.  Good as it is, a guy can only eat so much.  After baking the first few, we started skinning the birds and cutting the white meat up into steaks and grinding the dark meat and bits up into burger.  We added some plucked skin to the burger (otherwise you need to add oil to cook it).  I realize we wasted food by not plucking them, but we had a plethora of turkey and didn't want to waste our whole saturday on a bird.  (Mostly I remember the big toms, they took a while). 

When you make the burger of course, you can add garlic or pepper or whatever.  (I was surprised and got nostalgic when turkey burger started showing up in the stores decades later).  If you ever do this, it helps to cut the steaks across the grain so they are more tender and you can cut them with a fork.

For me, the best part of the bird is the stock.  My mom would boil down the carcass for at least several hours, up to a day or so for stock and then freeze it into containers and use it to make gravy or soup.  I still do that with our roasted bird after holidays.  While boiling you can add whatever spices you want, with onion and garlic and salt and pepper.  Once it cools down and you refrigerate it you can just peal of the fat on the top (if you're fatophobic, or if there's just too much of a good thing, I like a little fat).  Once you have the stock, gravy making is a snap, especially if you've got it flavored up the way you want.  just boil the portion you want for gravy back up and thicken it with either flour or corn starch mixed into cold water and then added a bit at a time to the stock until it reboils and thickens as much as you want.  If you add way to much thickener, your choices are to either call it pudding or add water to thin it.  Left over gravy after a meal works great added to a soup.  It will thicken it a bit, depending on how much stock and how much gravy you add.  If it thickens a lot, relabel it stew.  If you need to stretch it, cook a little soy sauce in it to strengthen the flavor (cook it in well though, otherwise it tastes nasty).  Stock (maybe from last holidays bird) does wonderfull things to stuffing when substituted for any water.

We also brought home big flats of infertile eggs every week or so.  we had way too many to eat in the season, although we tried.  With the extras, we emptied the eggs into manageable sized containers and froze them for use throughout the year.  They taste about the same as chicken eggs or duck eggs.  The yolks will probably break during the freezing, so if you want them separated for something, do it before you freeze them.  Our experiments with salting or spicing prior to freezing ended up nasty, I wouldn't recommend that.  I've frozen eggs since in little sandwich baggies when I wanted them in small units of one or two eggs.  The only difference between a turkey egg and a chicken egg is that the turkey shell and egg membranes are a lot thicker (the membrane under the shell and the membrane around the yolk).   No accidently broken yolks when frying turkey eggs.  If you want the yolk broken you have to poke it with a fork or spatula. I once peeled the shell off of an egg leaving the membrane under intact so that the egg was still contained in it just to see if I could do it, I don't think that could be done with a chicken egg.
 
wayne fajkus
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Just to update, we put the turkey down sunday. I put water and boiling water in a cooler chest til it was over 150 degrees. Dunked it to loosen feathers. The plucking was very easy. Put it fridge for 36 hours, now im gonna brine it til thursday morning.
 
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wayne fajkus wrote:Its that time of year, and a first for me (raising a thanksgiving turkey)  Any tips would be appreciated.  Butchering advice is great, but also looking for the preparation/cooking side of things if different than store bought turkeys.



I can't speak to butchering as I have never even seen it done.  Since so many recommend brine, is something like that done to store-bought turkeys?

Baking, though, I have a unique way. Did you know even a large turkey fits perfectly on the rack in a water bath canner? I put a little water in the bottom, stuff the turkey (yes, I know the paranoid way not to do that anymore, but I still do), and put it the normal breast side up on the rack.

Lower it into the pot and put the lid on. If they lid won't fit in your oven right side up, you can put it on upside down. (My water bath canner has a deep lid and the current oven is apartment-sized until I replace it.)

Bake as usual. It will take less time because the bird is completely enclosed and it will stay more moist. Lift up the rack and put the bird on a platter, leaving the drippings in the pot. I slice off all the white meat and a little of the dark to eat and make sandwiches and leftovers.

Then after dinner, I remove the rack from the pot. (You could make gravy using that drippings, but I don't - I want them in my soup stock.) Put all the rest of the bird (bones and most of the dark meat) back into the pot and cover with water. Simmer it overnight (if it is late) and then boil it down during the next day.

I take out the bones and pour the turkey and broth into quart canning jars (ideally wide-mouthed). If I'm going to use it quickly, I just put lids and bands on them and turn them upside down on a towel so they'll seal. Then I put them in the back of the refrigerator after they've cooled.

If I don't want to refrigerate or freeze the turkey and broth, I can process the quart jars in a pressure canner the usual way. (There are lots of videos and recipes online for how to can.) Then you can put them on a shelf and they'll last even longer.

Pour a jar or two into the crock post, add vegetables, and you have instant turkey soup. You don't have to use a crock pot - you could do it on the stove in a big pot instead. I find that dehydrating slices of summer squash works better for soup. Add the amount you can eat each sitting and they don't get as soggy as frozen do.

Cubes of sweet potatoes and butternut squash, bell peppers, regular potatoes, carrots, onions, garlic all work well. Mix and match and every time you make it (or add more veggies to the pot), you get a different taste. I might use organic Italian seasoning one time, then salt / pepper / celery salt another time, and sometimes even curry.

 
wayne fajkus
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My home grown turkey was as good, if not better, than any previous turkey ive cooked.

The only issue i had was the size. The graniteware roasting  pot ive used for a decade was a tad too small. I had to cut a couple inches off the drumstick for it to fit in, then had to lay her on her side to get the lid close to fitting. Ended up using several layers of foil as a gasket for the lid (or as the lid).

 
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