Turkey ruined?

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Joined Dec 23, 2016
Hi there need help please. I decided to brine my turkey for Christmas this year. I don't normally do this. I have it in a food grade bag. Stupidly I poured the hot brine over the cold turkey(I forgot to let the brine cool). I immediately but the turkey covered in brine in the refrigerator. Did I ruin the turkey? If I did lll need to head out and find a new one asap
 
2,563
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Joined Apr 25, 2014
You wouldnt ruin anything instantly. Your turkey cant be between 40 and 140F for more than 4 hours. That is basic food safety. Drain your brine out and keep the turkey cold. Cool the brine and add it later. Or just leave it out and dry brine. Or put the whole thing in a cooler with ice. You have many options, main thing keep it cold
 
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Joined Oct 9, 2008
You wouldnt ruin anything instantly. Your turkey cant be between 40 and 140F for more than 4 hours. That is basic food safety. Drain your brine out and keep the turkey cold. Cool the brine and add it later. Or just leave it out and dry brine. Or put the whole thing in a cooler with ice. You have many options, main thing keep it cold
I agree that you're fine here, but not with the reasoning.

The whole 40F-140F is indeed "basic food safety," but what that really means is that it's a stock rule of thumb that doesn't actually reflect reality terribly well. If you roast your turkey slowly, as many people think you should, it's going to spend more than 4 hours between 40 and 140F -- that's the nature of cooking. Lo and behold, it won't rot! So what's going on?
  1. First of all, a brine is all by itself a great inhibitor of pathogens. Salt screws up their little evil cells. This is why things like salami and country ham work, though obviously that's a lot  more salt than you're using in a brine for a turkey.
  2. Pretty much any pathogen you need to worry about (salmonella, for example) begins to die at about 130-135F. There is a complicated temperature-time gradient here. If you hold your turkey at 135F for a couple hours, it's completely safe to eat... and it will appear to be raw and fairly disgusting, unless that's actually what you wanted (doubtful). If you bring every part of your turkey to 162F, all the salmonella and stuff will die instantly. So basically the idea is to get the turkey to a target temperature between 130 and 162, and then hold it there long enough to kill anything nasty in it. (Detailed charts for this gradient are available at a number of modernist cooking websites, incidentally -- don't  guess.)
  3. The usual difficulty with working around this gradient is that you're cooking at a temperature considerably higher than 162F -- like 325F or more. So if you've decided your target is 150F, you get the turkey there and wait the required time... by which point it's about 170 or more, and horribly dry. This is why some people advocate very slow baking.
  4. When you drop the turkey into the hot brine, what happens is that it starts to poach. This won't go on very long: the turkey is very large, its bones act as heat-sinks, and you put it into the fridge. But the exterior surfaces will be lightly poached. What this may  do is cause the skin to absorb so much liquid that it won't brown well during the final roasting.
  5. What you should not  do is put the turkey into the hot brine and leave it sitting on the counter. That's causing the liquids already in your turkey to start turning into a fabulous growth medium for all kinds of nasties. Now of course, you're going to roast the thing to the point at which they're all dead, so why does it matter? Because some of those pathogens also smell and taste bad. It's all very well saying that the turkey is perfectly safe, but if it smells rotten you're not going to care.
In future, certainly do remember to chill your brine. But this is emphatically nothing to panic about.
 
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Joined Jun 27, 2012
FYI for anyone asking this in the future.

If you think you have a problem with a turkey call the Butterball 911 phone number....those operators have heard it all.

Worrying for some time and then asking a question on a forum just delays things.

@MikeReink  didn't get his first answer for 10 hours and could have had a ticking time bomb on his hands.

Just sayin'.

mimi
 
2,563
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Joined Apr 25, 2014
Also unless you pay extra for fresh or natural, your turkey is likely already brined. You could be double salting
 

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