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Tangy Floridian Take on Turkey

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A wild turkey twist on a Thanksgiving tradition

Full of flavor, with a Florida citrus tang.

As the Thanksgiving holiday approaches, everyone is starting to think about turkeys. Those hosting friends and family for the holiday feast are exploring ways to prepare the main course. An interesting option is to go organic by serving wild turkey for Thanksgiving.


If you want to keep with the Florida trend, use fresh Florida honey. A special infused honey might add some interesting depth to the brine.


In a large container or cooler, prepare brine by combining warm water, orange juice, 1 cup sea salt, honey, bay leaves and fresh citrus. Whisk until the honey and salt are dissolved and add ice to cool the mixture. Place the turkey in the brine for 12-24 hours. Keep cool by storing in the refrigerator, or if using a cooler continually add ice to keep cold. To cook, remove the turkey and dry the skin thoroughly. Discard brine.

The fruits of your labor never tasted so good.


Preheat oven to 325 degrees (or follow package instructions). Using your (clean) hands or a barbeque brush, cover turkey with softened butter. Generously season the outside and inside of the bird with salt and pepper. Place fresh herbs inside turkey and tie legs together with butcher's twine (this will ensure turkey cooks even). Roast according to package instructions, basting every 30 minutes-1 hour, or until a digital food thermometer reads 165 degrees. Remove from oven and allow to rest for at least 20-30 minutes before carving.

Fresh Tip: Brines are versatile! Experiment by using different combinations of herbs and spices. Brines can be used with poultry and pork products to enhance flavor.

Wild turkey is a versatile protein so in addition to the main course, Fresh from Florida chefs adapted several popular recipes using leftover wild turkey and other Fresh from Florida products. Serve post-holiday meals that are tasty and healthy with recipes such as wild turkey quesadillas and wild turkey cottage pie. See other Fresh from Florida wild turkey recipes.

There are two wild turkey subspecies that occur in this state: the eastern and the Osceola wild turkey. Florida is unique because the Osceola subspecies lives nowhere else in the world but on the state's peninsula. Osceolas are similar to the eastern wild turkey subspecies, which is found in north Florida and throughout the eastern United States.

“Turkey hunting in Florida is a chance to experience the outdoors in a really special way,” said Buddy Welch, wild turkey program coordinator for the FWC. “However, wild turkeys are extremely wary and possess sharp eyesight and excellent hearing so hunting them is a challenge.”

A nice Osceola gobbler.

Because most wild turkey hunting in Florida occurs in the spring, FDACS chefs discuss how to preserve a harvested wild turkey so it can be enjoyed at Thanksgiving.

The FWC uses scientifically-proven wildlife management strategies and professional expertise to meet conservation objectives and provide sustainable wild turkey hunting opportunities. Learn more about wild turkeys, including their behavior, habitat needs and where they live in Florida at

Check out the recipe videos on YouTube here.

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