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Advance Purchase of a Fresh Turkey

 How far in advance can you buy a fresh turkey to serve on Thanksgiving Day for it not to spoil?

 The US Department of Agriculture recommends that you buy a fresh turkey within only two days of when you plan to serve it. That doesn't give you a lot of lead time, does it? – but it's not as if you want a whole turkey cluttering up your refrigerator day after day, either.

(Remember, it can take 4 or 5 days to thaw a huge frozen turkey (20 to 25 pounds) in the refrigerator, so if you do want a whole turkey cluttering up your refrigerator day after day, go with a frozen one.)

In our experience, the USDA is very cautious and we sometimes stretch their recommendations (though we never suggest that others would want to follow our lead). But turkey and all poultry is highly perishable, so even we would toe the two-day line. The last thing you want on Thanksgiving morning – when most stores are closed – is to find that your turkey smells a little pungent.

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