There’s nothing wrong with a frozen Butterball — it’s economical, convenient, and has its own hotline. But fresh turkeys have some advantages, too. They’re generally less processed and arguably have juicier, more tender meat. And you won’t have a turkey defrosting in the fridge for a week.
Fresh birds are admittedly fussier, for both purveyors and customers. “That window is a short window,” says Dean Frankenfield, co-owner of Godshall’s Poultry, the epicenter of the Reading Terminal Market’s Thanksgiving crush.
To be truly fresh, the turkeys can be slaughtered only so far in advance, perhaps as late as the weekend before. That means they’re trucked to retailers early in the week, with customers picking them up as late as Thanksgiving eve.
Here are 12 markets and farms to score a fresh turkey and other Thanksgiving items as well. When you place your order, be sure to check what social-distancing measures are in place for pickup.
Godshall’s Poultry: Order a fresh cut of whatever poultry item your heart desires at this full-service Reading Terminal stall. There’s boneless turkey thigh roasts for dark-meat lovers, bone-in breasts for those who prefer white meat, and whole smoked turkeys, too. Not to mention the capons, ducks, squab, and geese, should you want an alternative bird. Pro tip: The butchers here are happy to spatchcock your bird for you.
51 N. 12th St., 215-922-7589, mercato.com/shop/godshalls-poultry
Mariposa Food Co-op: West Philly’s 49-year-old co-op sources its whole turkeys and parts (breasts, thighs, drumsticks) from Chester County’s Howe Turkey Farm (see below) and Koch’s Turkey Farm in Schuylkill County. Preorder for a discounted price, and pick up as early as the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
4824 Baltimore Ave., 215-729-2121, mariposa.coop/holiday
Griggstown Farm: Free-range white and heritage-breed turkeys are both available from this 65-acre farm, as are jumbo quails, capons, pheasants, geese, and Muscovy ducks. The turkeys come plain, brined for 24 hours, or oven-ready (brined and seasoned). Don’t miss the soups, gravies, and pies. Philadelphians can pick up orders at the Head House Square farmers market on Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
484 Bunker Hill Rd., Princeton, N.J., 908-359-5218, griggstownfarm.com
Arnie’s Gourmet Butcher & Culinaria: This 35-year-old shop is a destination for its dry-aged beef, but it has plenty of poultry for turkey day, too, including fresh farm-raised turkeys, boneless and bone-in turkey breast, fresh duck, capons, and even turducken. Order sides by the pan (mac and cheese, sautéed spinach and mushrooms) or the container (stuffing, cranberry relish, turkey demiglacé).
219 Berlin Rd., Cherry Hill, 856-428-0045, arniesgourmet.com
Quarry Hill Farm: Bourbon reds and broad-breasted bronzes are the only turkeys raised on this woman-owned farm, which is also home to chickens, guinea hens, ducks, and rabbits. There are only about 90 turkeys, so order soon.
620 Quarry Road, Harleysville, 215-513-1514, quarryhillfarm.net
Merrymead Farm: This Montco field-trip spot is known for its dairy products, but its market also sells fresh, locally sourced birds come Thanksgiving. Order a whole turkey, from 10 to 32 pounds, or turkey breast, from six to 12 pounds, before Nov. 18; order from 20 varieties of pie by Nov. 23. And when you come to pick up, don’t forget to grab some ice cream on your way out.
2222 S. Valley Forge Rd., Lansdale, 610-584-4410, merrymead.com
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Martindale’s Natural Market: One of the first health-foods stores in the country, Martindale’s will stock a limited supply of fresh birds from Plainville Farms for Thanksgiving. They’ve ordered a larger quantity of small birds this year, but to ensure you get the size you want, call early to earmark your turkey.
1172 Baltimore Pike, Springfield, 610-543-6811, martindalesnutrition.com
Linvilla Orchards: Call this Delco destination soon to reserve your fresh turkey, which you can pick up as late as Thanksgiving morning. The farm sources its birds, ranging from 10 to 30 pounds, from a Chester County farm. Be sure to check out the wide selection of pies, too, including, peach melba, chocolate shoofly, sweet potato crunch, and French apple.
137 W. Knowlton Rd., Media, 610-876-7116, linvilla.com
Bolton’s Farm Market: Pick up all your Thanksgiving dinner supplies (produce, pies, sides) at the storefront for this bustling family farm, which raises around 10,000 turkeys each year. Bolton turkeys range from 10 to 40 pounds and live their entire life — from hatching to processing — on the farm.
1005 W. Main St., Silverdale, 215-257-6047, boltonfarmmarket.com
None Such Farm: The fresh whole turkeys and breasts sold at this long-running family farm come from Sensenig Turkey Farm in Lititz. Reserve a bird by Nov. 18 for the best size selection, and remember to add sides (sage stuffing, mashed yams, maple-roasted Brussels sprouts) and pie to your curbside-pickup order.
4458 York Rd., Buckingham, 215-794-5201, nonesuchfarm.com
Howe Turkey Farm: This turkey farm is all about family; check its Facebook page to see the Howe kids herding turkey poults inside the barn. Processing takes place every Thursday, which means you can get a fresh bird (as small as 10 to 12 pounds or as big as 24 to 26) early, but you can also pick up Monday through Wednesday before Thanksgiving.
152 Culbertson Run Rd., Downingtown, 610-384-5508, howeturkeyfarm.com
Kimberton Whole Foods: Kimberton’s four area locations source fresh birds and breasts from Koch’s Turkey Farm and Mary’s Turkeys, plus fully cooked turkeys from Plainville Farms. Pick up your bird as early as the Monday before Thanksgiving, but if you want to add Kimberton-made sides and Profeta Farms pies to your order, put it off till Tuesday or Wednesday.
2140 Kimberton Rd., Phoenixville, 610-935-1444; 150 E. Pennsylvania Ave., Downingtown, 610-873-8225; 429 E. King Rd., Malvern, 484-324-2800; 222 E. Main St., Collegeville, 484-971-6055; kimbertonwholefoods.com