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#61321 - 10/02/08 10:33 AM Processing Turkeys vs. Chickens?
Ckvchestnut Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 06/12/07
Posts: 346
Loc: Canada
Hi Everyone,

I didn't have the time to get into raising my own turkey poults this season but I am buying a live bird from one of my clients next week. We have been processing our chickens for over a year and I am wondering if there is anything at at all different or any great tips I should know about processing turkeys as opposed to chickens?

As well, I have an odd question: How come my birds legs stay in the extended position after processing, I have tried to bend them down but it doesn't seem to work. We allow the birds to sit in the fridge to relax prior to cooking or freezing but that doesn't seem to change anything? Is there a specific time frame for the fridge? They must stay that way due to rigor mortis? We pluck the birds in the hanging position as we find it easier, but maybe that is what's causing this? We don't mind it for presentation reasons as we just feed ourselves but I will be feeding a huge family for Thanksgiving and don't want my Turkey looking like a dead deer or something with its legs sticking up in the air! Better yet, I don't think it would fit in my oven like that! Thanks for any advice in advance!
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#61322 - 10/04/08 06:29 PM Re: Processing Turkeys vs. Chickens?
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
I know what you mean about the sprawled legs. I look at chickens in the grocery store, all neat and tucked up and think, how do they get them to do that? I have a few huge bags the local grocery store meat man gave me, and I guard them with my life, re-use them over and over, hard to find bags that big. But I need them that big to get those stretched-out legs jammed in! And we don't hang to pluck, so ours have no reason to be stretched out. But they are anyway. It's a mystery.

Killing turkeys vs chickens. Chickens are of a size that you can handle them. Sometimes turkeys are so big that it's more like a rodeo sport. No picking him up by the hind legs and holding him with one hand while chopping with the other ,I don't think so! But I've never done a turkey so this is all hearsay, which as we all know is not permitted as evidence. All I know for sure is the people who process chickens charge a lot more to process a turkey, that should tell you something. Good luck!

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#61323 - 10/08/08 10:11 AM Re: Processing Turkeys vs. Chickens?
Ckvchestnut Offline
Flock Leader

Registered: 06/12/07
Posts: 346
Loc: Canada
Thanks Uno, I went and bought an already processed and stuffed one from the local butcher, I haven't the time nor the energy for wrestling turkeys right now smile I heard they are harder to pluck and all the rest so, not this year! So I guess I can't get around that nice tucked up look the stores have eh?

If I don't hear from you before th weekend, happy Thanksgiving to you! *Gobble *Gobble!
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#61324 - 10/08/08 12:56 PM Re: Processing Turkeys vs. Chickens?
Foehn Offline
Administrator
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1968
Loc: New Zealand
Turkeys are best plucked by submerging in boiling water. You need a big tub, like an old fashioned copper (The thing your grandmother used to use for heating washing water) You don't leave them in too long, or the skin will peel off them too, but as soon as the feather are easy to rub off, you're in business. My father and brother brought 5 home after a shooting season chance meeting. They did not intend to shoot so many. They fired one shot each and bagged the 5 turkeys. (These just might have belonged to a neighbour, so the boys sneaked guiltily home, around the gullies, lugging 5 birds, two guns and two belts of cartridges and a pheasant one of them got earlier)
I don't remember the legs sticking out, but I do remember my mother drying it out to turkey jerky in the woodrange (no such thing as slow cooking in those) so that for years I didn't really like turkey until I tasted one properly cooked and basted, with cranberry sauce....mmmnnh!

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#61325 - 10/08/08 08:55 PM Re: Processing Turkeys vs. Chickens?
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
Hubby and I had one of those 'marital moments ' over the temp of the dipping water. He was convinced it had to be boiling. I was convinced it had better not be boiling. Turned out I was right (no surprise there laugh ) He dipped the chicken in that boiling water, then to the plucker, and it tore the skin to shreds. What a mess. Now we know better than to let the water get too hot. He tests by dipping, then tugging at the primaries. If they come easy, goes to plucker, if not, another few seconds under water. He's got it down to a science now.

We use a big galvanized tub propped up on bricks with a tiger torch underneath. I saw that huge tub at a hardware store and snapped it up! Guard it with my life. One time while doing chickens hubby, who is sometimes not too sensible, reached in to arrange a brick. A brick that had been heating with the tiger torch. Instant burn to his hand. Huge blister comes up. He managed to kill and clean with this massive burn on his hand. Now he does not randomly grab volcanicly hot bricks.

Another lesson learned the hard way, plucker fingers can be stiff. We butcher in cool weather. The plucker lives out of doors year round. It is pretty rugged equipment, but when the rubber fingers are cold, they are not very flexible. Despite fiddling with smile water temp, the first few chickens were always battered looking. Once the hot birds warmed the rubber fingers, the plucking went better. Now I sometimes dip an old towel into the hot plucking water, and lay it over the rubber fingers. Softens them up a bit so they don't brutalize the chickens. Amazing the things we learn the hard way.

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#61326 - 10/08/08 09:44 PM Re: Processing Turkeys vs. Chickens?
Foehn Offline
Administrator
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/08/06
Posts: 1968
Loc: New Zealand
Yes Uno you could be right about the water temp. I was a kid then, so what did I know? I have a very clear recollection of that spoiled turkey though. Plenty of fibre in that one. I chomped all night on a piece of dried out turkey that was more "leather: than meat and ended up with sore teeth. Nowadays with oven bags, temp control and pop-up thermometers, young chefs don't know what it's like having to balance the fine art of keeping a wood range at just the right temperature. My mother never learned. She boiled cabbage til it went pink and smelled like something the dog rolled in, turned steak into soles for shoes, and made the porridge stick so hard to the bottom of the pot that my father had to chop it out with a chisel. It got the name of "door stopper porridge" and became a family joke.
I at least learned to cook well on it and boy could I make great scones. Nothing like scones cooked for 5-6 minutes in an oven reading 600 degrees F. laugh

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#61327 - 10/09/08 09:53 AM Re: Processing Turkeys vs. Chickens?
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
Hi Foehn:

I have an old wood stove in my kitchen, built in the 1890s. I use it for emergency heat once in a while when the electricity goes out. I know how hard it would be to regulate the temp well enough to try cooking something. I don't know how those women 'back in the day' managed. There were so many variables, including the quality and species of firewood. I have boiled water on it, that's all.

Once I was going to cook a ham for hubbies lunch( to slice for sandwiches) when the electricity went out. What to do? There was a slow fire in the furnace, so I wrapped the ham in several layers of tinfoil and tossed it in the furnace. Daughter thought I'd lost my mind. A couple hours later I fished it out with a shovel, set it outside and swept all the hot coals off it, and unwrapped. My kid almost fell over. It was a little burnt on the edges, but otherwise cooked right through. Furnace ham. Yum.

But it would be with fear and trembling that I set something as precious as a home raised chicken or roast into my old wood stove. Those women who did manage to feed their families with one of those were truly artists!

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#61328 - 10/15/08 01:48 PM Re: Processing Turkeys vs. Chickens?
P. Smith Offline
New Egg

Registered: 11/07/05
Posts: 5
Loc: Wyoming
Turkeys dress out almost identically to a broiler chicken, only bigger. Your scald temperature and time are the key to a good pluck and a beautiful bird vs. well a not so nice bird.
At my elevation the water must be 145 degrees and the scald should last no more than 1 min. and 20 sec, longer the skin begins to cook and will tear easily, If the water is too cold the yellow outer skin stays on and looks blotchy. The birds should cool after processing for 24 hours befor either eating or freezing.

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#61329 - 10/16/08 12:16 AM Re: Processing Turkeys vs. Chickens?
Uno Offline
Lord of the Fowl

Registered: 08/26/05
Posts: 1280
Loc: Canada
Oldfowlman:

Tell me more about this yellow skin and water temp. Do chickens have this skin too? I have noticed that there is a slight layer of yellow...stuff, like wet tissue paper, very fine, on my birds. I can rub it off with my fingers or wipe it off with paper towel. I notice store birds do not have this. Is it a temperature thing? I notice exactly as you say, too hot and the plucker shreds the bird, too cold and the feathers don't come out.

I have just not heard about the two layers of skin thing and wondered if chickens had it too.
(I feel bad calling you oldfowlman. What if you are only middleagedfowlman?) smile

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