Question about Shrink Bags and freshness


In the Brooder
11 Years
Dec 14, 2008
How long can a shrink bag preserve freshness when the turkey is kept in the fridge and not frozen, with no preservatives? I generally freeze all my meat birds after they have rested a few days. I am trying not to freeze the one that is destined for Thanksgiving dinner. It looks like processing day will be the second week of November due to my work schedule.
I don't know how long is safe but I wouldn't keep any meat in the fridge for that long. If raw meat, sealed or otherwise, is in my fridge for more than a few days I throw it out.
I have never used them, but have read that if you use a certain thickness, it will keep up to a year. I'm sorry I don't remember the thickness specified.
If it's just going to be refrigerated, I don't think the shrink bag will prevent spoilage any more than a loose plastic bag. Shrink bags are primarily used to keep the meat from freezer-burning by reducing the meat's exposure to air. When you aren't freezing the bird, plastic is used to prevent contaminants from contacting the meat, but it doesn't matter if the bag is tight.

We all have different standards for food hygiene. I've heard that in France, it's common to field-dress pheasants and grouse and then hang them in a cool shed by the head until the vertebrae in the neck separate, up to two weeks. Here's a pretty thorough discussion of hanging pheasants for as long as 10 days, in as warm as 55 degrees.

my tastes, that's taking things a little too far, but it illustrates that some people have no problem with aging their meat, and it's not because they are ignorant of the risk of spoilage.

Another thing to consider is that brine not only improves the way the meat cooks, but also can discourage food spoilage.

I can understand not wanting to freeze it... then (IMO) it's no longer truly fresh, no matter how short a duration it spent in the freezer. If it were my bird, I think would try to butcher it a little closer to the day you are going to cook it, and then lightly brine it for a few days. I know you said you had a busy work schedule, but it doesn't take all that long to butcher a bird. The slowest part is waiting for the water to boil for the scald!
Brinning actually orginated from the need to store meat without refrigeration. Back in the old days everything had to be packed in salt to preserve it. Now we brine to add flavor and moisten meat. I've never brined a turkey for over 24 hours but I do brine roasts for two weeks or longer.
brining is an art and a science... it's a great opportunity to experiment... and it's a project that doesn't always turn out exactly like I had planned.

At its most basic, it involves soaking a bird in salted water. The salt is drawn into the tissue, and it results in a physical change to the meat. Traditionally it was done as part of a preservation method (and then the bird was smoked, dried, or, in some cases, pickled). These days it's mostly done as a way to improve flavor and texture.

Everyone has a different idea about how to do it. A google search for the words "brine" and "turkey" will give you more reading material than you could ever hope to get through. Here's a link to a BYC thread that explains the basics:

personally tend to use less salt in my brines than some of the standard recipes... I think I still get moister meat, but it doesn't make the bird taste like a salt-bomb. Before smoking, I use a sweet brine that is made of apple juice, soy sauce, chile pepper, ginger. For regular brines, non-iodized salt (like kosher salt or canning salt) is better than table salt, which has a metallic taste from the added iodide. For big birds like turkeys and honkers, i like to take a sharp metal shish-kabob skewer and puncture the meat in a few places to increase the absorption of the brine deep in the tissue.

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