Why do you wait 3 - 5 days after you kill a turkey before you cook them?


In the Brooder
10 Years
Jul 20, 2009
Cairo, GA
I am brand new to the turkey scene and just read this in another thread. Please explain this to me. We have successfully raised 13 BBB from mail order birds and one of them was recently real unsteady on his feet, (like leg problems because of his weight) so we went ahead and killed and dressed him out, I then promptly cooked him. That was just 2 days ago. The meat seems fine, but I have nothing to compare it to since this was our first home grown turkey. Please someone tell me what I should do in the future, the others are due to be killed to go on the Thanksgiving table, the Christmas table and the rest for the freezer.
This is done to allow the natural enzymes and proteins in the meat to break down the fiberous materials. Without this process the bird would be very tough! Most meat that you purchase has already had this process done to it or at least started. Beef is aged for 2 weeks for example.

You can also age the turkey in a brine mixture (salt + water) to really enhance the moisture and flavor once cooked. Turkey is a lean meat and really benefits from this process.
Allowing the bird to rest allows rigor mortis to pass, which in refrigerated birds may take several days. If you kill it and cook it immediately before rigor sets in that should not be a problem. Generally meat is more tender if allowed to age for a few days before cooking.
Yep, rigor mortise had not even set in. The dark meat is tough. So, if I let it go though rigor mortise and become soft again, it will be more tender?
The ones I will be freezing, should I rest them in the fridge for 3 days before freezing or just go ahead and freeze?
keep in mind that bacteria can double in number every 20 minutes in temperatures between 40-140 degrees.. make sure your refrigerator is cold enough.
I give away half of the turkeys I raise each year. It always concerns me that people will not care for the meat properly by not keeping it cold enough, then blame me or my turkeys for causing them to get sick.

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