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Getting pastured chicken

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I'm getting some pastured chickens that a local homeschooling family is raising as a project together.  They're expensive but I know that they're feeding the chickens good stuff (I pointed them to a local grain farm that sells organic chicken feed) and will be processed humanely (and will be going to help when the time comes).  I just don't know how many to get because our finances are so insanely up in the air.  They're offering a discount with a purchase of 25, but I think that's more than I can swing at this point.  I asked her for ten and to let me know if more were still available later in.

 

In any case, in June I'll be helping with processing two hundred chickens.  Presuming I take home ten birds, what's the best way to stretch them so they last as long as possible?  I'd like to leave the biggest one or two whole for when I have company.  I was thinking of packaging the rest of the birds two and four leg thigh quarters in a package and one or two breasts per package, plus bagging up the wings and backs separately for broth making.  Fat will get collected for rendering also (and I hope to be able to get extra from processing day).  I'm one person, so it doesn't need to feed a whole family, but I do like to cook enough for more than one meal at a time.
 

I also don't know how much freezer space this is going to take.  I have a decent freezer on top of my fridge, but hopefully will be getting a chest freezer soon.

post #2 of 15

Great thinking on your part to divide up the parts prior to freezing.  Every time we slaughter chickens and freeze them, we regret not taking the time to do this. 

If the birds (are they Cornish x Rocks?) are being raised from now until June (12-14 weeks), they should come out to 6-9 pounds dressed.  They will probably fit it your freezer, but you won't have room for much else!

I don't know if this is an option in your area, but if you can find a freezer locker that rents space, you won't have to buy another freezer, AND the chickens will keep much better at -20* and no defrost cycle (causes freezer burn and frost on the meat). 

post #3 of 15
Thread Starter 

Yes, we're doing cornish crosses.  I anticipate a good size.  Thank you for reminding me how big they get -- I raised colored rangers, which are more in the four to six pound range.  I guess I'll save the biggest of them whole and portion up the ones just for me.  (MWAHAHAHA, no sharing in MY house!)

 

I've got a lead on a freestanding freezer but haven't gotten it yet.  Otherwise... well, I'll cross that bridge when I get to it.  I've already got a full freezer compartment on both of my refrigerators.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bantams View Post

Great thinking on your part to divide up the parts prior to freezing.  Every time we slaughter chickens and freeze them, we regret not taking the time to do this. 

If the birds (are they Cornish x Rocks?) are being raised from now until June (12-14 weeks), they should come out to 6-9 pounds dressed.  They will probably fit it your freezer, but you won't have room for much else!

I don't know if this is an option in your area, but if you can find a freezer locker that rents space, you won't have to buy another freezer, AND the chickens will keep much better at -20* and no defrost cycle (causes freezer burn and frost on the meat). 



 

post #4 of 15

I would also suggest that you take the feet, heads,gizzards, hearts and necks for making the most deliscious broth. 

post #5 of 15
Thread Starter 

The extras will be made into broth on site for everybody to share but yes, if they were not, I would be. :)

post #6 of 15

Well, I just purchased 20 (or was it 25...) chickens from a farm. Got so many cause there was a discount:-) I just tossed them all in the freezer, and as I need them, I derfrost them, and cut them up (if I need to - I am a big fan of roasted whole chicken:-) I also very much dislike cutting up the whole chickens, so only having to do one of two at a time, as I need them, is much easier for me:)

post #7 of 15
Thread Starter 

You're four or so people eating?  It makes less sense to leave them whole for one person, though.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by rjruiz_415 View Post

Well, I just purchased 20 (or was it 25...) chickens from a farm. Got so many cause there was a discount:-) I just tossed them all in the freezer, and as I need them, I derfrost them, and cut them up (if I need to - I am a big fan of roasted whole chicken:-) I also very much dislike cutting up the whole chickens, so only having to do one of two at a time, as I need them, is much easier for me:)



 

post #8 of 15

I'd suggest leaving at least few whole--we discovered recently that poaching a whole chicken leaves you with wonderfully tender, moist chicken AND some amazingly full-flavored broth. It's got to be one of the best cooking discoveries we've made recently. The poached chicken and veggies ended up giving us a good 3-4 meals for 2-3 adults and 1 18-month-old, plus we got around 2 quarts of broth.

 

Do you have a vacuum sealer? They seem to help a lot in terms of preventing freezer burn, and work quite well when you've chunked up the chicken.

post #9 of 15
Thread Starter 

I actually prefer to cook the dark meat separately from the white meat because long cooking in the broth makes the white meat too dry for me.  However, you pointed out something important in your reply:
 

Quote:

The poached chicken and veggies ended up giving us a good 3-4 meals for 2-3 adults and 1 18-month-old, plus we got around 2 quarts of broth.

 


A whole chicken for four people seems reasonable.  I'm only one person, so that many meals would be waaaaay too much for me.  That's why I don't want to leave them whole.  I can make plenty of soup for dinner and leftovers with one or two leg quarters.

 

Also:

 

 

 

Quote:

Do you have a vacuum sealer? They seem to help a lot in terms of preventing freezer burn, and work quite well when you've chunked up the chicken.

 

 

I do, but don't currently have any bags.  Hoping to be able to afford to before processing day!

 
post #10 of 15

That's interesting--you've had white meat go dry in poaching? That's completely the opposite from what happened with ours. At any rate, you're right--this can probably be done just as well with quarters.

post #11 of 15
Thread Starter 

It's possible that "dry" is not the correct word.  Meat that's cooked too long in water/water based broths is still wet, but the texture of the meat feels dry against my tongue, as if the fat from the meat as all dissolved into the broth.  I don't like the texture/sensation without chopping it up and drowning it in gravy or sauce, but that sort of defeats the purpose.

post #12 of 15

You will be dog tired after helping butcher all those chickens!  

 

Also, i just freeze mine whole and adapt recipes for using all the cuts.  If I don't want to roast a whole chicken I cut the legs/thighs off and the breasts and save the rest for stock.  I use the cuts for the recipe, I do a lot of curries and such.  I am not a fan of cooking breasts alone. 

post #13 of 15
Thread Starter 

LOL, I'm SURE I'll be exhausted, but I'll gladly do it to get the meat guilt free.  And there will be a team of a dozen or so people.  Not just me :)

 

I'll probably leave the biggest ones whole for serving to company.  If I cook too much meat, I eat too much meat, and it's awfully expensive.

Sandra
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by prancie View Post

You will be dog tired after helping butcher all those chickens!  

 

Also, i just freeze mine whole and adapt recipes for using all the cuts.  If I don't want to roast a whole chicken I cut the legs/thighs off and the breasts and save the rest for stock.  I use the cuts for the recipe, I do a lot of curries and such.  I am not a fan of cooking breasts alone. 



 

post #14 of 15

Remember to chill your chickens in the fridge for 2 days before freezing - as in aging meat, the muscles need to relax from rigor mortis. 

So you could cut up the chickens over the next couple days, and not worry about it the day of butchering. 

post #15 of 15

It IS worth being tired over.  We process our own chickens and I am always exhausted afterwards, and we do 5 or 6 a day max!  But, we don't have any automation and there's only me and my husband who does the killing.  I do the rest.  I let my chickens age in the fridge for 3-5 days before freezing them. 

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