TUESDAY, OCTOBER 20, 2009
Fresh or frozen? Free-range or kosher? The choices for types of birds can be a little confusing. So here’s a quick guide on what the different labels mean:
Butterball: These turkeys don’t actually have any butter. The name
comes from a British expression for a fat little kid. The turkeys come fresh or
frozen. The fresh variety has no added ingredients. The frozen turkey is
injected in the breast with a solution of vegetable oil, water, salt,
emulsifiers and a preservative. The solution is meant to enhance the flavor and
provide moisture that is lost during the freezing process.
Kosher: Kosher turkeys are soaked in cold salt water even before the
feathers are plucked. The process draws out the blood and impurities, following
Jewish dietary laws. Because they go through both rabbinical and USDA
inspections, the birds are very clean. The salt water soak also makes for a more
flavorful bird. Kosher poultry are fed an all-natural diet without hormones or
antibiotics. The birds are confined but to larger areas than are provided at
conventional poultry farms.
Free-range: These birds are fed an all-natural diet and aren’t
confined. Often, the birds eat natural feed that is not organic but is tested
for chemical residue. Generally, they have more breast meat, about 50 percent
less fat and a quarter fewer calories than regular turkeys. However, some
consumers have found that free-range turkeys are a little tougher because
they’re less fatty. Be careful not to overcook them.