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Q&A

Freezing ground turkey

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tl;dr: how should cheap ground turkey be frozen: raw, browned, browned with onions, or cooked into finished food? What are the safety and texture/quality implications?

Supermarket-quality ground turkey, 15% fat, needs to be cooked and/or frozen soon; quantity enough that most of it is headed for the freezer. (The package label said "air chilled" which is often a misleading technically-legal euphemism for "previously frozen".)

Some pressure for using other perishables: cabbage, potatoes, onions, carrots, jarred garlic, fresh beets.

Household (other than me :-( ) has a strong preference for non-spicy food, though onions and garlic are well received.

Available nonperishables include white rice, brown rice, beans of many sorts, and a nearly infinite supply of fresh rosemary.

The choices that came to mind were (in order of labor):

  1. Freeze raw (in thirds)
  2. Brown and freeze
  3. Brown with onions and freeze
  4. Make (mild) chili and freeze
  5. Make meatballs and freeze
  6. Make soup and freeze
  7. Make stuffed cabbage and freeze

This question is being asked during the 2020 pandemic; we limit shopping to once a week or less (plus a bi-weekly farmshare) and keep staples and a chest freezer in deep rotation, but do not expect major food chain disruption (a few specific items are unavailable but the panic hoarding has ended). Frozen food goes to the back of the freezer and takes a while to make it to the front.

So, the question that came out of all of this: are there compelling reasons (food safety or texture degradation, for example) to pick one level of preparation over another?

(Took me a while to get this posted; I ended up browning it with just a bit of black pepper and freezing it divided, except for one portion that I made into turkey/beet/brown rice/thyme burrito filling.)

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1 answer

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I recommend, if it has never been frozen, to weigh it out into portions. Then wrap tightly in plastic wrap, expelling air, and lastly in a durable plastic bag which is labeled with contents, portion, and date.

If it has been frozen and thawed, cook it into the most basic and common form your family prefers. Then cool to fridge temp, and bag, label as above, and freeze.

Basic common form can be meatloaf, meatballs, or crumbles, minimally seasoned so it can be amended with a seasoning or sauce when thawed and reheated.

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