What type of turkey do you buy?

I usually buy the heirloom turkeys at Whole Foods but, while I like to know my food was treated “better” while alive, I haven’t noticed any taste difference. I’m debating saving myself a lot of money and buying a standard bird - Trader Joe’s, Costco, butterball. My only reservation is these birds are nearly always brine injected and I prefer to dry brine. I’ll also note that I’m a person who actually enjoys the turkey most. What kind of turkey do you buy? Have you had any issues brining any already brined turkey?

We always buy free range and, preferably, organic.

It’s not customary to brine turkey in the UK and I imagine consumers would feel ripped off if they thought they were paying for injected salty water as part of the weight. Certainly I would. It’s the sort of thing that happens with very cheap (and nasty) ham.

It’s quite frustrating that most are self basting

I usually get a heritage turkey for Thanksgiving from BN Ranch at my local market. They are free-range and organic. BN Ranch is a local meat purveyor here in the Bay Area that used to be owned by Bill Niman, formerly of Niman Ranch. They’ve recently been bought out by Blue Apron (the meal kit company) so I wonder if anything will change with regards to their turkey.

They are quite expensive but they taste good and are juicy with a nice amount of fat. I usually dry brine it for a few days before cooking.

I lived on a small Greek Island for a couple years & of course by Nov. all the tourists are gone & the whole place slowed to a virtual stop. Anyway - the first Thanksgiving my family wants a big turkey for T’giving - just like home. So I speak with the manager of the ‘big’ grocery store. Well says Stelios - how big a turkey do you want? I tell him ‘10 Kilos’. ‘Oh po po’, he says, ’ I have to order that from Athens’. 2 days before Thanksgiving I get word he has the turkey, a 22# frozen Swifts Butterball.

As far as turkey now, since family obligations are pretty much done, we don’t have turkey - we have seafood.

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I have ordered my 15 lb , fresh slaughtered bird already. I then get my usual gratis bird from one of my super markets…, about 18 to 2o lbs.
The gratis bird, gets cooked and cut up before the meal and served warmed from the oven. The fresh bird, is cooked, slightly cooled and put out for show “at table carving”. What I have found over the years, that no one wants to wait until we cut up the bird… this way we put it out, because they just want to eat!

“My only reservation is these birds are nearly always brine injected”
“There are basically two types of raw frozen turkeys on the market – pre-basted or un-basted. A pre-basted bird (like Butterball brand)is injected with water, broth, vegetable oil and/or spices to enhance flavor and moistness during cooking. An un-basted turkey has no additional ingredients. Read the label”
Most commodity whole turkeys sold in the US are un-basted (natural)and contain only turkey with no additional ingredients. They are water cooled (unless you buy the pricier air chilled) so they do contain added water. All of these un basted birds are suitable for dry brining.

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Thanks! I actually did some googling after posting and think I’ve been considering any turkeys with % retain water as “self basting” but as you pointed out that’s just from processing. I thought it was odd that most would be pre basted. That being said I usually buy air chilled but I imagine 3% retained water doesn’t make much of a difference.

In the past, I’ve gotten a fresh Kosher turkey. I’m not Kosher, but the “dry brining” of the salt when it is Koshered, saves a me a step, and the taste is very nice.

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Bessarabsky Market, Kyiv. Ukraine
Credit: Juan Antonio Segal, Flickr