Forget “at least.” Here’s what temp to cook your turkey to at MOST – and other pre-Thanksgiving tips

Fall in Central Pa.

YORK COUNTY, Pa. (WHTM) — In his five years of farming, James Cornwell has learned a lot about turkeys.

One example?

“A lot of people don’t know: Only the males gobble,” Cornwell, owner of Nine Pines Farm said, where his wife Becky and their four kids help him raise turkeys, chickens, and pigs.

But alongside the trivia, he also has other knowledge that can help the rest of us do more than impress just people at a party. Three key tips from Cornwell now that Thanksgiving is less than two months away:

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  • Plan ahead. The supply chain issues impacting other areas of our lives hit farmers too. For example, the cost of turkey feed has risen, pushing the prices of turkeys up, and “it’s probably not going to go down” soon, he said. He said if you plan to buy a turkey from a farmer like him, reserve it early.
  • Don’t buy too big of a bird. That might sound like strange advice coming from someone who sells turkeys by the pound, but he said it’s true: A 25-pound turkey won’t fit in most ovens. If you actually need that much turkey, buy two smaller turkeys.

“People say, ‘I want the biggest bird you have,'” Cornwell said. “No, you don’t.”

  • Cook your turkey to at most 165 degrees. That’s also the temperature to which the government recommends cooking a turkey at least. But when it comes to cooking temperatures, more is not better.

Cornwell said last year, a man called him after Thanksgiving complaining Cornwell had sold him a dry turkey. Cornwell asked the man to what temperature he had cooked the turkey. The man’s answer: 185 degrees.

“There isn’t a turkey on this earth that can withstand 185 degrees,” Cornwell said. “Cook it to 165 degrees. I said, ‘If it’s still dry, I will give you every penny back.'”

For Christmas, the man followed that advice.

“He called back and said, ‘Wow, I’ve been cooking turkey wrong all these years!'” Cornwell said.

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