From death to freezer

Posted by: Uno

From death to freezer - 08/14/11 08:28 AM

Forgive me if this topic has been discussed here before. My memory is not that good anymore.

On another forum...the debate rages about whether you have to let birds 'rest' after butchering them before you put them in the freezer. Some people seem very concerned with rigor mortis, insisting that it must be allowed to pass before you freeze the bird or else the bird will be tough as an old boot.

My feeling is that if you have properly raised and butchered a designated meat bird, the product will be pretty darn good. Ours always are and we we butcher, cool and freeze with no resting or sitting overnight in the fridge before freezing. I don't have room in my fridge for 25 birds anyway!

I'm wondering if this idea is floating around from the days when people ate 5 year old dual purpose roosters and various, desperate measures were employed to render the miserable, old thing edible. We are confident that a well raised, well butchered mear bird is going to be a wonderful product everytime and for us it has been.

WHy do people get hung up on the 'let rigor mortis pass' idea? To me, the longer meat is around NOT frozen, the higher your risk of food bourne illness. Get that thing in the freezer and forget about rigor mortis! Ideas and opinions, anyone?
Posted by: CJR

Re: From death to freezer - 08/14/11 05:14 PM

My Dad chopped the head off the Sunday (noon) dinner bird (cockerel, pullet, rooster or hen) on Saturday afternoon or evening, plucked it, and my Mum cleaned it. And if a fryer, cut it up, if a roaster, left it whole, of course, and into the refrigerator overnight, so nothing more to do with it until ready to cook. (NO thought of anything, but scheduling the dinner time on Sunday). And, if a stewer, started the pot on the stove Saturday afternoon with added vegetables, (left it sitting on the stove overnight), simmered again next morning until meal prep time (stew, dumplings, noodles, or ?? lots of good meals).

This was CHICKEN to ENJOY, however prepared! Now, it is almost impossible to obtain real chicken at a super market!!! I SELDOM buy it!!! Lots of folks (maybe most) do not know how chicken tastes--or the meaty texture of chicken, not commercially grown and processed. Chicken is known just by the seasonings--yes, they are good, too. Being old has not only good memories, but skills learned early, that are not always known to today's cooks! CJR
Posted by: Uno

Re: From death to freezer - 08/15/11 06:17 PM

Yes...exactly! ...the bird was processed for the convenience of the cook, the timing of the meal was in mind, NOT that some rigor mortis process had to take place, then pass, before the bird could be eaten or frozen.

I just find the whole discussion puzzling, wonder where it came from. As a youngster being part of the killing event when all the Aunts and Uncles got together for the big day, 'resting' the birds was NEVER even brought up! Kill and COOL was the big issue.

I find this concern very puzzling and wonder where it comes from and if it has any validity with today's designer meat birds?
(nice to be chatting with you, CJR)
Posted by: ssc

Re: From death to freezer - 08/17/11 12:21 PM

I am in the UK and my parents kept poultry on the farm in the 1950's through to the early 70's some of which were sold on - mostly as boiling fowl, as they were a laying flock.

The birds were always killed, and plucked warm or dipped in hot water on the Aga. And they were then put in a big fridge and left for 2 or 3 days before being drawn. Fowl were often on offer at the butchers shops, and they were always in their feathers and undrawn, the butcher wouldn't dress them for the customer they were expected to take them home and do it themselves.

I still ask the local gamekeeper who "does" my birds for me to hang them as long as he thinks right (depending on the weather and air temp etc) I think it adds to the flavour and tenderises the meat, and like you I do it because that was how it was done when I was a child

Probably if they were chickens of a young age this would not be necessary but mine are either culled hens, or my young cockerels which are normally killed at 24 - 30 weeks and after a life of free range and straight wheat a bit of "tenderising" does help.

It may also be down to weather conditions as well, we have pretty cool summers on the whole. In the UK eggs are always in boxes on the shelves in a supermarket never in the fridge, and I think it may be forbidden for shops to put them in the fridge here. Government advice for the home is to store eggs outside the fridge. Except for catering establishments which have to keep them in the fridge - where is the sense in that???
Posted by: Uno

Re: From death to freezer - 08/17/11 10:04 PM

Thank you SSC, you confirm something that I suspect. That this practice came from the days when it was spent hens and older roosters that were being eaten. I'm sure they do benefit from some added 'treatment' beyond simply kill and cool.

I think I will take the stance that while this may be a good practice for birds that are NOT meatbirds, it is not required for today's modern meat poultry. At least I've never felt there was anything we could do to improve our finished birds, we think they are just wonderful the way they are.