Turkeys rank next to chickens in popularity as food. They are native to America and are perhaps better known here than in foreign countries. Turkey is a much more seasonal food than chicken, it being best in the fall. Cold-storage turkey that has been killed at that time, provided it is properly stored and cared for, is better than fresh turkey marketed out of season.
The age of a turkey can be fairly accurately told by the appearance of its feet. Very young turkeys have black feet, and as they mature the feet gradually grow pink, so that at more than 1 year old the feet will be found to be pink. However, as the bird grows still older, the color again changes, and a 3-year-old turkey will have dull-gray or blackish looking feet. The legs, too, serve to indicate the age of turkeys. Those of a young turkey are smooth, but as the birds grow older they gradually become rough and scaly. A young turkey will have spurs that are only slightly developed, whereas an old turkey will have long, sharp ones.
Turkeys are seldom marketed when they are very young. But in spite of the fact that this is occasionally done, the mature birds are more generally marketed. Turkeys often reach a large size, weighing as much as 20 to 25 pounds. A mature turkey has proportionately a larger amount of flesh and a smaller amount of bone than chicken; hence, even at a higher price per pound, turkey is fully as economical as chicken.
From Library of Cookery (Volume III)