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HELP! Cold Water Thawing Turkey question

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    HELP! Cold Water Thawing Turkey question

    How cold should the water remain during this process? I assumed (stupidly I think) just "cold" tap water but about an hour into the process it occurred to me that this is not much different than room temp. Now in looking online I saw a reference to around 40F, achieved via lots of ice. I've corrected the problem but am I already in danger because it sat in roughly 78F water for an hour and forty-five minutes??

    BTW, this is a 13 pounder

    Huskee, or David Parrish - got any advice?


      I am not an expert in this field. Question- are you sure the water was actually at room temp, or are you just saying the thawing turkey/water sat out in room temp? Because a giant 13lb ice ball (frozen turkey) would keep that water pretty cold for a good while. If the water was actually room temp for 90 min then that is surely a breeding ground for bacteria. Water thawing should ALWAYS be done in the fridge or in ice water, never any amount of time with room temp water.


        Unfortunately yes I measured it at 80F coming out the faucet (outside temps today reached almost 100F), then it dropped only a surprisingly few degrees due to the frozen turkey (ice ball!). It may have dropped as low as 75F but I think that's about it. Then when I wised up I got it into an ice chest with lots of ice and temp is around 40-44F. I may be starting over with another turkey.


        • Huskee
          Huskee commented
          Editing a comment
          Well, that's a big risk for you and your loved ones. If it makes you sick, you'd wish to high heaven you'd just have bought a new one and started over. Price of a new turkey vs price of Dr or ER visit, or a day or two of work missed...

          Sorry to hear about this setback, but it sounds like you know the wisest course of action here...

        Check out Meathead's huge turkey article. In it he discusses timelines, thawing, and there's even a link to his other meat thawing article. if you haven't read through it already, it will be a huge help to you, not only with the thawing fiasco but with smoking it too.


          I think the bird is probably fine, but why go to all that effort of cooking it and then be worried for 24 hours after if anyone is going to get sick? Whenever I have any doubt about meat I just toss it. Not worth the worry.


            Thanks Huskee. I have read this article and it is extremely helpful, however I had already read this and in fact this is where I got the idea to try cold water thawing in the first place. Since he offers three methods and one is actually called "Very cold water bath" I inferred that #2 ("cold water bath") was more along the lines of the cold (vs. hot) side of tap water. In fact in re-reading it I wonder again if he does mean cold tap water. Otherwise, it appears what I'm doing now IS the very cold water bath.

            I couldn't get another turkey last night. If I got one now that other stores are open this morning I am out of time for thawing and cooking today. So I'm back to wondering whether I really need to toss this bird.

            I should correct my original post regarding the time it was in the room temp zone: 1 hr and 15 mins, not 1:45. My question is, how long at room temperature is a problem? Logic dictates that there is SOME period of time that is okay otherwise you couldn't drive your turkey home from the grocery store. I don't want to get sick but I also don't want to go to throw out this turkey if I don't have to.

            Anyone else have experience in this area?



            • Papa Bob
              Papa Bob commented
              Editing a comment
              You have to look at the temp of the bird. The bird was still frozen so it wasn't sitting above 41 degrees if you submerge the bird in "cold water" than let a trickle of water hit the water convection will help thaw your bird.

            David Parrish, just noticed your reply. I must have been typing my last post when your post came through so didn't see until now. Yeah, I'm pretty sure it would be fine too but decided (again) to throw it out.

            I am still curious, though, about what the intent of MH's cold water bath is compared to the "very cold" one if it doesn't involve tap water. I'm guessing that in many places the "cold" water coming out the faucet is much colder than here in the South, even in the summer. But last night the water from my faucet was measuring (thermapen) at 80F which is warmer than the air in my kitchen. Keep in mind that water at this temp still feels cool to the touch so it was only by measuring the temp that I started to get concerned. May I suggest a revision of that article to more clearly state temperature thresholds in the water thawing methods (if only for dummies like me)?

            Oh well, live and learn. As always, love this site and the awesome group of Pit members!




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