More on butchering/hanging carcasses

Posted by: Ozark Rose

More on butchering/hanging carcasses - 09/28/06 12:29 PM

Some of you might know a little about a book that was "bible" of professional cooks in the 80's, On Foods and Cooking- The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold McGee. (He's come out with a new book but its not as informational, in my opinion). Although he does not spend as much time on butchering animals and hanging carcasses as I thought he would, he does explain a few things. You might see if your local library caries the book to read verbatum or here is my intepretation of major points:
1) Stressfull dispatching is to be avoided. A muscle works by "feeding" off of latic acid reserves. If an animal is over worked, stress of shipping, handling, fleeing, it uses up these reserves and is forced to quickly break down the muscle for fuel, producing a bad texture in the final product. He talks about how the color of the meat can acutally be darker from this stress which makes me think of how "endurance" muscle fibers are dark & thin and "strenght" muscle fibers are white & round.
2) Rigormortis passes in 6 hours for the chicken.
3) Hang carcasses. The muscel fibers are forced to relax or cannot contract as they would otherwise (this is not rigormortis) and thus improves texture.
4) Aging of all meats produces a better texture. As the cell walls begin to break down, it releases the bodies own enzymes, used for digestion within the cell, which begin to gradually break down the muscle fibers.
5) Keeping meats dry helps to inhibit bacterial growth.
6) Temperatures below 38 degrees also inhibits bacterial growth.
Posted by: Uno

Re: More on butchering/hanging carcasses - 02/03/09 04:21 PM

If you are new to butchering your own chickens, you might consider a killing cone. Hubby made one and it improved things greatly. No more bruised carcasses and no chicken ducking its head out of the way at the last minute and getting half chopped instead of completely chopped. Hubby gets VERY upset if the job is not done completely and instantly! There is a standard to uphold!

I have always maintained that there is more to raising meat than just schlepping food out and hucking it over the fence. There is an ethic (in my mind) to the method and efficiency of kill. You can invest a lot of time and effort into raising an animal only to botch the whole process with bad slaughter. Good on you for looking ahead to avoid some pitfalls. Better than discovering that you did it wrong and gee, you've got another dozen of these tough, stinky, terrified hens still in the freezer to gnaw your way through. Yes, we've had stinky hens.
Posted by: Jrsygntbrdr1

Re: More on butchering/hanging carcasses - 02/03/09 08:45 PM

Hanging the hang them so that the blood drains. Not to decrease the contractions of muscle fibers.

Hmm...never heard of the bacterial growth and having dry carcasses. I suppose that is why in industry they use a salt-brine solution to wash the carcasses.

Temp below 38* is a GOOD idea.
Posted by: TTC

Re: More on butchering/hanging carcasses - 06/15/10 05:44 AM

As a Westerner living in Thailand, raising a few chickens has really proved to be quite an experience. Anyway, to make a long story short, I just recently butchered my first chicken, and to be honest, it was really a stressful event for me having grown up as a city kid. I have since given a few more the chop, and yes, it has become easier; but I still take it very seriously. I also haven't gotten to the point where I can cut its throat, so for the time being, I still take the head off completely with a singly blow.

I've read much about the importance of bleeding, so I though I should mention how it's done over here. The chicken is almost always killed by making two small cuts to the neck. The blood is collected in a bowl, but it's then added later to soup, etc. Many of the Thais also don't bother hanging the chickens. Instead, they get killed, plucked, cut up, and into the pot they go, together with several spices, such as fresh galangal, kaffir lime leaves, fresh chili, onion, tomato, garlic, salt, and pepper. The blood is then added, and the lot is allowed to cook for a few hours. All I can say is that the end result is awesome.

By the way, chicken blood is used in several dishes over here. In fact, I eat several of those dishes; but if I actually see the blood being poured in, I swear I can smell it and taste it.

Sorry if this is a useless post, but I just though some others would be interested in how things are done elsewhere, bearing in mind I'm a Westerner myself.

As always, thanks for a great site.

Posted by: CJR

Re: More on butchering/hanging carcasses - 06/15/10 11:05 AM

Your information is interesting and educational. Most people are not aware of even the commercial slaughter in the U.S. and other countries, much less farm practices. If we were, we might all be vegetarians (but there are other groups who pray for forgiveness to even chop up a cabbage). We need to have a broader education, don't we? Thanks for sharing! CJR
Posted by: TTC

Re: More on butchering/hanging carcasses - 06/15/10 11:13 PM

No problem CJR. Yes, seeing how others do things can be very educational. My wife for example, who happens to be Thai, will always go out and give the chickens a special treat if one has just been slaughtered. She goes out and actually apologizes to the flock, and then presents them with some treats. Even though she won't do the actual killing, and neither will she watch, it still gets to her in a big way every time. Let's just say, if she had her own food, she'd certainly be a vegetarian. Myself on the other hand, although it was difficult the first time, would have no option but to slaughter as I've never been keen on vegetables. Without a steady supply of meat, I'm sure I'd

One thing I do like over here, is that when they slaughter an animal, nothing goes to waste. They really do seem to eat everything.
Posted by: RuffEnuff

Re: More on butchering/hanging carcasses - 10/29/11 12:39 AM

i did a series of how to butcher and dress a chicken here:

this topic is very short but interesting, especially the stuff on the thai cooking.

my partner does all my birds, i do the breeding rearing and photography. i do cull any sickies if he is not around to do it. unfortunatly i have more birds than we need so a lot get given to a hmoung friend of mine for his family to rear and eat. people in my area don't seem to like to pay for birds or eat their own birds so i would much rather give my excess to someone who is greatful and not so stingy. i take pride in my birds and would like people to appreciate them one way or another.
Posted by: Uno

Re: More on butchering/hanging carcasses - 11/01/11 12:43 PM

I think sometimes how different cultures process meat is also related to the climate they live in.

We never aged or hung our chickens, not when my parents raised and butchered and not now when Hubby and I butcher. We cool the birds (in very cold water), believing that fast cooling reduces bacterial growth and does not overburden the freezer by putting warm bodies in it!

But way back wne my dad hunted, this always took place in the Fall, the cool season, he always hunted near water and immediatleyt cleaned the carcass and then washed it out with water from the stream/creek. He never carried an animal out of the bush until it had been claned and the body cavity propped open with sticks, to allow air circulation and maximum cooling. Also, an inspection of the animals organs determined whether or not it would be eaten. Any sick animal or one showing a heavy worm load was NOT used for human consumption.

WHen we did our own beef, they always hung in the garage, wrapped in a sheet, for several days. This was in the cool Alberta fall and it was cold and dry. We alwyas had the best meat. I think having an animal 'hang around' is a function of cool, dry weather and countries that have such weather. Hot, humid countries perhaps risk illness if they keep meat laying around. So they kill and eat immediately, because that is what their climate dictates.
Posted by: RuffEnuff

Re: More on butchering/hanging carcasses - 11/04/11 04:01 PM

LOL Uno...i live in tropical north queensland, australia however i am at altitude so we are lucky to have a climate a little cooler than the coastal hot humidity. i can very well only imagine what canada is like.....your summer would not even make our winter in warmth. there is no way we could leave a carcass out for 24 hours and this alone can be seen from the road kill. in fact in the summer it is only a matter of minutes before the flies arrive.