Which type of turkey are you planning to put on the table this Thanksgiving? Here is some useful information to distinguish between free-range, organic, natural and kosher. Read this information and decide which turkey best fits your palate and your philosophy.
According to the U.S Department of Agriculture, free-range turkeys have “been allowed access to the outdoors.” This doesn’t ensure that the turkeys are free to roam. The conditions may vary by producer. If the free to roam lifestyle is what you prefer, you may want to look for pasture raised turkey. This is an unregulated term but indicates a freer life spent strutting around in the sun eating up the grass. Free-range birds tend to be moist but not exceptionally so. They have a robust flavor.
These turkeys are raised free of antibiotics and growth hormones. They are given access to the outdoors. So, they are also free-range. They are fed with organic feed. This feed, by law, contains no genetically modified grains, pesticides, herbicides or animal by products. They have a pronounced turkey flavor.
If the turkey is labeled “natural”, by law, the turkey must be minimally processed and contain no artificial ingredients, coloring or preservatives. Typically, the more natural the turkey, the better the flavor.
These turkeys are raised and processed under rabbinical supervision and in accordance with strict dietary law. This mandates a soaking in a cold freshwater bath and hand salting inside and out, followed by a triple rinse. They can vary dramatically in flavor. Some have a cardboard texture. Some retain a few stray feathers. However, these feathers are super clean with all of those rinses. I’d still wash it all again.