Can you eat a turkey that has been frozen for 2 years

In this paper, I will answer the question: “can you eat a turkey that has been frozen for 2 years” and I will provide you with the methods of how to properly freeze turkey meat and thaw it after congelation.

Can you eat a turkey that has been frozen for 2 years?

Yes, you can still eat turkey that has been in the freezer for 2 years. Foods that are kept frozen at 0°F or lower will be kept permanently safe, according to the United States Department of Agriculture. Freezing “prevents the proliferation of germs that cause both food spoilage and foodborne illness” (1). according to the USDA.

However, when it comes to texture, flavor, and taste, all frozen foods will eventually degrade over time. Therefore, the USDA recommends that whole poultry and poultry meat cuts should be stored for a maximum period of 12 and 9 months, respectively (1).

You’ll get the best quality out of a whole frozen turkey if you eat it within a year. You may expect favorable outcomes if you cook the turkey soon, as you’re approaching the one-year threshold.

=How to Tell If Turkey Is Good?

If you have some turkey in the fridge that you’d like to freeze to extend its shelf life, it’s critical to determine whether the turkey is edible before proceeding.

Smell and texture are the best indicators of whether or not turkey is still edible. Regardless of the expiration date on the packaging, if the turkey has a sour odor and/or a slimy texture, it’s no longer suitable for consumption. 

How Long Does Frozen Turkey Last?

If your turkey is good when you freeze it (and you thaw it properly), you should be able to eat it at any time after that, whether it’s two months or two years later as long as you keep the temperature at 0 degrees. However, deteriorations can occur in this period, such as lipid oxidation, protein denaturation and growth of freezing-resistant bacteria (2). 

Protein denaturation occurs because, during freezing, water molecules freeze out and migrate to form ice crystals, resulting in the disruption of the organized H-bonding system that stabilizes the protein structure, and the hydrophobic as well as the hydrophilic regions of protein molecules become exposed to a new environment. Freezing also results in a concentration of solutes, which catalyze the initiation of oxidative reactions and disrupts and dehydrates cell membranes, exposing membrane phospholipids to oxidation. Poultry fat becomes rancid during very long storage periods (longer than 12 months) and danger of rancidity is greatly increased when poultry is cut up before freezing and storage because of the increased surface exposure to atmospheric oxygen (2). 

In contrast, cooked turkey (as opposed to raw turkey) can be stored in the freezer for up to two or three months (1).

How to freeze turkey?

Turkey meat should be sliced and wrapped in freezer paper or foil before being sealed in plastic freezer bags (make sure to press out all the air before sealing). Put a date on the container so you know when to put the turkey in the freezer. The presence of air inside the package can lead to freeze-burn, an unsightly white color that can be mistaken for mold but is resolved on rehydration during cooking. It is usually in the form of patches of light-colored tissues, produced by evaporation of water, which leave air pockets between meat fibers. This dehydration can be controlled by lowering of storage temperatures or better packaging (2).

If you’re freezing a whole turkey, simply cover it in multiple layers of plastic wrap.

How to thaw frozen turkey?

According to USDA recommendations, never thaw frozen turkey on the counter or in hot water, and never leave it at room temperature for more than 2 hours (1).

There are three safe ways to defrost a turkey:

  1. Thawing in the Refrigerator: The best technique to thaw a frozen turkey (whole or in pieces) is to place it on a platter and put it in the fridge to thaw slowly. This procedure can take an entire day. If you thaw a raw frozen turkey in the refrigerator, the defrosted turkey can last for 1–2 days before needing to be cooked or refrozen.
  2. Thawing in Cold Water: If you need to thaw your turkey quickly, place it in an airtight bag and soak it in cold tap water for 30 minutes, changing the water every 30 minutes. After the turkey has thawed, cook it right away. Do not freeze it again.
  3. Thawing in the microwave: You can also defrost frozen turkey slices in the microwave, but if you do so, make sure to cook it right away to avoid bacteria from proliferating.

Other FAQs about Turkey that you may be interested in.

Can you eat wild turkey eggs?

How long can you freeze turkey bacon?

How long can you eat Christmas turkey leftovers?

Can you eat raw turkey bacon?

Conclusion

In this essay, I answered the question: “can you eat a turkey that has been frozen for 2 years” and I described the method to properly freeze it and thaw it in order to maintain its quality.

References

  1. Freezing and Food Safety. United States Department of Agriculture. 2013.
  2. Rahman, Mohammad Shafiur, and Jorge F. Velez-Ruiz. Food preservation by freezing. Handbook of food preservation. CRC press, 2007. 653-684.