Ohio poultry farmers offer Thanksgiving turkey tips

Ohio is one of the largest turkey farming states in the nation, producing nearly 305 million pounds of turkey each year. For Ohioans planning for the upcoming Thanksgiving holiday, Ohio turkey farmers and experts from the Ohio Poultry Association (OPA) are offering helpful cooking tips and ideas to stretch the Thanksgiving budget.

This year, increases in fuel, labor and feed are expected to make the cost of Thanksgiving dinner higher than in years past. However, there are plenty of ways to enjoy a traditional Thanksgiving dinner on a budget. OPA recommends that Ohioans consider purchasing smaller turkey cuts to save on budget and time in the kitchen, inviting family members to bring side dishes to share, and repurposing leftovers in recipes or by storing in the freezer.

“Whether you’re feeding a large group or immediate family members, turkey is available in various sizes and quantities, making it perfect for any celebration or budget,” said Jim Chakeres, OPA executive vice president. “If you’re looking to cut down on Thanksgiving costs this year, consider purchasing a smaller turkey or experimenting with specialty cuts like a bone-in turkey breast. No matter which variety you choose, turkey is a perfect dish to serve at any mealtime.”

Ohio turkey experts also recommend these tips in preparation for Thanksgiving celebrations:

· Plan to serve at least one pound of uncooked turkey per person.

· If feeding a larger crowd or for those who want leftovers, buy a whole turkey, whether fresh or frozen. If a larger size is unavailable, purchase two smaller turkeys. See this recipe from an Ohio food blogger for a Foolproof Thanksgiving Turkey.

· For a smaller gathering, consider opting for turkey cuts like turkey breast, turkey thighs or turkey legs. See this recipe from OPA for Bourbon-Brined Turkey Breasts and Legs.

· Plan ahead and purchase turkey early for the best availability. Turkey can be frozen until it’s ready to be cooked, just ensure to allow ample time for thawing in the refrigerator. Allow 24 hours for every 4-5 pounds.

· Use all of the turkey and repurpose any leftovers. Pack leftovers in shallow, airtight containers and refrigerate within 2 hours of cooking. Refrigerated leftovers should be eaten within 3-4 days or frozen and enjoyed within 3-4 months. See this leftover recipe from an Ohio food blogger for Creamy Turkey Soup.

No matter how turkey is prepared, it’s crucial to ensure a safe internal temperature of 165°F. When cooking a whole turkey, the temperature should be checked in at least three places: the innermost part of the thigh, the innermost part of the wing and the thickest part of the breast.