How long does uncooked turkey last in the fridge (+5 storage tips)

In this brief guide, we are going to answer the question “how long does uncooked turkey last in the fridge” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of an uncooked turkey in different mediums. Moreover, we are going to discuss the way to properly thaw the frozen turkey and the tips to properly store the uncooked turkey. 

So without much ado, let’s dive in and figure out more about it.

How long does uncooked turkey last in the fridge?

Uncooked fresh turkey lasts for about 1-2 days when stored appropriately in the fridge. oN the other hand, cold cuts can last for about 5 days in the fridge. 

The vacuum-sealed unopened package of turkey lasts for about a month as long as its packaging is not disturbed and it is sorted at a temperature less than 40°F  in the fridge. The cooked leftovers of the turkey last for about 3-4 days in the fridge without going bad.

How long does uncooked turkey last at room temperature?

Uncooked whole turkey or turkey pieces last for about 2 hours when kept at room temperature. You should discard the uncooked turkey that has been left in open for more than 2 hours as bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40°F and 140°F, therefore there are greater chances of the uncooked turkey being already contaminated with bacteria when left out for more than 2 hours.

How long does uncooked turkey last in the freezer?

uncooked whole turkey if kept wrapped in an aluminum foil in an air-tight container or plastic freezer bags can last for about a year in the freezer. While the uncooked pieces of turkey last for about 9 months when properly stored in the freezer.

When it comes to cooked turkey pieces, they last for about 2-6 months when stored properly in the freezer.

How to properly thaw the frozen uncooked turkey?

  1. The recommended way to thaw the frozen turkey is to leave it in the refrigerator overnight and let it thaw there. 
  2. Conversely, you can thaw the frozen turkey in a bowl of cold water but you should cook it immediately after thawing. 
  3. Moreover, if you are thawing the uncooked turkey in the oven or microwave it is recommended to cook it immediately. 

The reason behind cooking the turkey immediately after thawing it in a cold water bowl or microwave is that when you warm the turkey using these methods, the temperature of the turkey is lower than that of 40°F for some time and that’s when the bacteria can start to grow on it rapidly. Therefore it is advised to cook such thawed turkey immediately until its internal temperature reaches 165°F. Because it is only by cooking the turkey properly that we can get rid of the bacteria completely.

You can read more about it here.

How to tell if the turkey has gone bad?

You can tell whether or not your turkey has gone bad by considering its appearance, texture, and smell.

Appearance

If you can see some off-coloration or if you can spot molds or dark spots on the surface of the turkey then it is the indication that your turkey has gone bad.

Texture

If you can feel something slimy or gooey while touching the turkey then it means that your turkey has gone bad. 

Smell

If you can smell something acidic, sour, or some ammonia smell then it means that your turkey has gone bad and you should discard it. 

Can I use a slimy turkey after rinsing it properly?

No, you should not use a turkey that has a slimy and gooey texture even after rinsing as you won’t be able to get rid of the bacteria. Rather rinsing the bacteria-laden turkey will put you at risk of cross-contamination as the bacteria will spread in the utensils, food counters, and other food items that will come in contact with the water from the turkey that has gone bad.

Tips to store uncooked turkey properly

  1. Firstly wash hands, countertop, and the utensils that you are going to use to store the turkey. Secondly, the uncooked turkey should be washed thoroughly before storing it in an air-tight container or bag in the fridge.
  2. It is a good practice to store the uncooked turkey on the shelf of the fridge rather than the door as there is a lot of temperature fluctuation at the door of the fridge.
  3. It is best practice to store the uncooked turkey on the lowest shelf of the fridge to eliminate any chances of its dripping on any other food item. In this way, you can diminish the chances of cross-contamination.
  4. Refrigerate the uncooked turkey promptly at or below  40°F. Bacterial growth takes place at a faster pace between the temperature of 40°F and 140°F, therefore it is always advised to store your uncooked turkey at a lower temperature.
  5. If you want to freeze the uncooked turkey it is better to wrap it in the aluminum foil or freezer bag before putting it in air-tight heavy-duty freezer containers, as it can help to protect the uncooked turkey from freezer burns.

Conclusion

In this brief guide, we answered the question “how long does uncooked turkey last in the fridge” with an in-depth analysis of the shelf life of an uncooked turkey in different mediums. Moreover, we discussed the way to properly thaw the frozen turkey and the tips to properly store the uncooked turkey. 

Citations

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Mahnoor Asghar is a Clinical Nutritionist with a bachelor's degree in Nutrition and Dietetics. She is compassionate and dedicated to playing her part in the well-being of the masses. She wants to play a fruitful role in creating nutrition and health-related awareness among the general public. Additionally, she has a keen eye for detail and loves to create content related to food, nutrition, health, and wellness.

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