The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License, Flickr.com

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Boy or Girl: Which Turkey Gender Is Most Tender?

By Vicki McClure Davidson

 

I receive many an informational e-letter from America's Test Kitchen. The one I'm citing below is no exception.

Which gender of turkey is most tender? Male or female? Honestly, I've not ever given it any thought.

Apparently, there are no obvious visual cues for distinguishing between the two sexes once they've been killed, prepared, packaged, and shipped to market. The bird's weight is the best indicator of whether a turkey is a male or female.

Good information to have when shopping for a turkey that will match your family's needs.

From Notes from America's Test Kitchen, emailed November 13, 2008:

"When it comes to commercial turkeys, weight is the best indicator of whether a turkey is a tom (male) or a hen (female), as there are no obvious visual cues for distinguishing the two once they reach the market. Representatives from Butterball, Plainville Farms, and Empire Kosher Poultry all said that their smaller turkeys (10 to 16 pounds) tend to be hens, while their larger birds (18 pounds and above) are typically toms. When in the 16- to 18-pound range, a turkey might be either a large hen or a small tom.

"All of the turkey producers we spoke to agreed that there is no discernible difference in taste between toms and hens and that the age of the bird is what's most important when it comes to tenderness. Because the majority of supermarket turkeys are slaughtered when young (under 28 weeks of age), they are pretty tender—even the tom turkeys."

Does turkey gender make a difference in the tenderness of the cooked bird? | Photo credit: Library of Congress, Reproduction No.: LC-H813-B04-032; vintage turkey photo taken during 1920s
Does turkey gender make a difference in the tenderness of the cooked bird? | Photo credit: Library of Congress, Reproduction No.: LC-H813-B04-032; vintage turkey photo taken during 1920s

 

So, the mystery's solved. Gender of the bird bears no role in its final tenderness—only its age, and of course, the way it is cooked.

 

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