Last Updated on September 26, 2023 by Shari Mason
Are you wondering whether or not you should leave your turkey uncovered in the fridge before cooking it?
I’ve noticed that this debate over whether to cover or uncover a turkey in the refrigerator has been ongoing for some time, with both sides offering valid arguments.
Let’s explore the pros and cons of leaving a turkey uncovered in the fridge and provide some tips for ensuring your turkey comes out perfectly cooked.
Is It Okay To Leave Turkey Uncovered In The Fridge?
Yes. Leaving your turkey  uncovered in the fridge can be a good idea as it allows the skin to dry out, which can lead to a crispier and more flavorful crust when it’s cooked. Just make sure to baste your turkey from time to time to keep it moist.
However, there are also some potential downsides to leaving your turkey uncovered in the fridge.
For instance, it can dry out the turkey, leading to dry meat. It can also pick up odors from other food in the fridge.
It may likewise increase the risk of cross-contamination if the turkey comes in contact with raw meat or other harmful bacteria.
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Can Dry Brined Turkey Be Left Uncovered In The Fridge?
Yes, a dry-brined turkey can be left uncovered in the refrigerator.
This is because a dry brine is a mixture of salt and spices rubbed directly onto the turkey to flavor it and help it retain moisture while cooking.
“Cooking turkey every year doesn’t have to be monotonous – I want people always to mix it up using different spices and preparations. “– Marcus Samuelsson, Chef
The dry brine will help form a protective crust outside the turkey, which will help keep the turkey from absorbing excess moisture and prevent it from becoming soggy.
This also helps keep bacteria from growing on the turkey, which is why it can be left uncovered in the refrigerator.
How Long To Brine Turkey
As a general rule of thumb, the turkey should be brined for at least 8 to 12 hours for a small turkey, 12 to 24 hours for a medium-sized turkey, and 24 to 36 hours for a large turkey.
For best results, the turkey should be soaked in a brine solution that consists of 1/4 cup of salt per quart of water.
Once the allotted brining time has passed, the turkey should be removed from the brine solution, rinsed off, and patted dry with paper towels.
Should You Air Dry It In The Fridge?
Air-drying turkey in the fridge is a great way to ensure it is perfectly cooked without drying it out.
By air drying the turkey in the fridge, you will be able to reduce the time it takes to cook it and reduce the risk of it becoming dry.
The process involves removing the turkey from the packaging and placing it in a shallow pan in the fridge uncovered. This allows the air to circulate the turkey and helps to draw out any excess moisture.
Air-drying turkey in the fridge is also a great way to help retain the turkey’s natural flavors and juices.
What Happens When You Don’t Cover Food In The Fridge?
When food is left uncovered in the fridge, it can promote the growth of bacteria  and mold, which can contaminate the food and cause it to spoil.
Moisture can also escape from uncovered food, making it dry and unappetizing.
“Leaving your turkey uncovered in the fridge is like letting it take a refreshing nap before the big roast, but make sure it’s got good company with a tight wrap to avoid any chilly surprises!”– Eat Pallet Restaurant & Food Advice
In addition, uncovered food can absorb strong odors from other foods or the fridge itself, making it inedible.
To avoid these issues, it is best to store food in air-tight containers or covered with plastic wrap or aluminum foil before placing it in the fridge.
Tips On How To Store Turkey In The Fridge
- Store the turkey in its original packaging or wrap it tightly in plastic or aluminum foil.
- Place the turkey in a shallow container or pan to catch any liquid that may leak.
- Place the turkey in the coldest part of the refrigerator, usually the bottom shelf or the back.
- If your refrigerator has temperature control, set it to 40 degrees Fahrenheit or below.
- Use the turkey within four days. If you plan to use the turkey within three days, freeze it.
- If you plan to use the turkey more than four days after purchasing it, freeze it.
- If you plan to freeze the turkey, wrap it tightly in plastic or aluminum foil. Place the turkey in a freezer bag, label it with the date, and freeze it.
- Thaw turkey in the refrigerator and use it within four days.
Can you unwrap a turkey the night before?
Yes, you can unwrap a turkey the night before. However, it would help if you kept it in the refrigerator to ensure it stayed cold. If you plan to stuff the turkey, you should wait until the morning to do so.
Can you brine a turkey for too long?
Yes, you can brine a turkey too long. If you leave the turkey in the brine for too long, the meat will become too salty and may become mushy.
How long to leave the turkey uncovered in the oven?
Generally, it would help if you left the turkey uncovered for the first 30 minutes of baking, then loosely covered it with foil for the remaining baking time.
While it is alright to uncover turkey in the fridge, it is important to remember that uncovered poultry can dry out quickly, so it is best to use a lid or wrap the turkey in plastic.
If the turkey is already cooked, it should be covered to prevent spoilage.
Ultimately, the best way to ensure the safety and freshness of your turkey is to store it properly, whether covered or uncovered.
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