How best to clean skinned chickens?

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Sunny Side Up, Sep 16, 2009.

  1. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    How do you remove the tiny bits of feathers left stuck to a skinned chicken?

    I skin them & wash them off well with the hose before soaking in ice water. After a day in the ice water I give them another rinse in the kitchen sink, checking inside to make sure I got everything out, and washing off the outside before placing them in plastic bags to rest inside the refrigerator.

    But there's always a lot of tiny fine filaments stuck on the meat, little short hair-like fragments of the feathers that cling to the surface. It doesn't help that the meat has a sort of tacky transparant membrane covering it that traps the filaments like flypaper.

    I've tried rubbing & washing and still find it impossible to remove every single one. I don't want to have to go over the birds with tweezers. The whole point of skinning is to make the processing process faster, it's counterproductive if I have to spend time at the sink making the carcasses clean.
    [​IMG] It's worse when it's a dark-colored bird like a Barred Rock or RIR. Do YOU have this problem? How have you solved it?
  2. LilRalphieRoosmama

    LilRalphieRoosmama Officially Quacked

    Oct 15, 2007
    Elyria, OH
    I use a lighter (the big kind to light a grill) and singe the hairs off. Works best if you pat the bird dry first. Grandma used to hold it over the flame of the gas stove and singe that way.
  3. kingmt

    kingmt Chillin' With My Peeps

    May 1, 2009
    Mason WV
    I think it is easier to pluck then to skin after I figured out how to scald. The scald is the hardest part to get right to me. I am thinking of building a scolder out of a hot water tank so I can keep the temp right. I would use a torch that cost about $15-$20 that you can even get at Walmart. It comes with gas & refills cost about $2.50 & last much longer then the lighter with much more flame. This is only if you don't have a gas stove to do it over which would be much better.

    I just leave the skin on now until cooked then skin & you don't have to worry about it. Nice & clean bird to eat. I don't care for the skin but if I was giving it to someone else I would use the torch on them. Some people have soft stomachs.
  4. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    [​IMG] I know about singing the hairs off plucked chickens, I don't think that would work here. And I know about plucking, & how to scald to make that job easier. I don't worry about keeping the water at a constant temperature, I just keep a couple of pots boiling on the stove -- or up to a boil, then kept simmering -- and have teen son bring them out when I'm ready to scald. There's another big pot outside to empty the fresh hot water into, usually I have to add some hose water to bring the temps down. But lately I've been skinning to make the job go faster and because I usually simmer & pick the meat and never use the skin anyway. I don't want to do both plucking then skinning.

    These chickens have been skinned, but in the process of yanking the skins off there's little remnants of feathers left sticking to the skin. These little feather remnants are the individual barbules, of which there are hundreds along each feather shaft. I think what makes them so difficult to remove is that they have microscopic hooks along their length, this is what makes the feather hold together. When birds preen they're running their beaks through their feathers and re-hooking all these barbules together.

    So the barbules have hooks, and the meat has a tacky/sticky membrane over it. Together it makes it really difficult to get the skinned meat completely clean.

    Has anyone else encountered this issue? What do you do to remedy it?
  5. jaku

    jaku Chillin' With My Peeps

    You're getting hairs on the meat of a skinned chicken? I've never heard of that.
  6. Winsor Woods

    Winsor Woods Chillin' With My Peeps

    Jun 14, 2009
    Cascade Range in WA
    I just skinned a bird today so everything is still fresh in my mind. I'm having trouble imagining what you're describing. I've used the lighter trick before when plucking ducks, grouse, etc from hunting but I've never had a problem from skinning a bird. The whole point of skinning is to get the feathers and skin off of the bird in an easy fashion. It sounds like you know this and that's why you skinned. Are the little feather fibers falling off the feathers and getting stuck to the meat? I'm not quite sure why so many feather fibers would fall off the feathers like you described. The only possible explanation I can think of would be feather mites/lice. Sorry I can't help you more. Perhaps you could post a picture or two if you have a camera that could capture what you're talking about?

  7. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Sorry, no picture-posting capacity yet, or I'd show you what I mean. It's not hair, it's little individual hair-like bits from the feathers, the barbules. Think of a feather, there's the shaft that sticks into the chicken & has a long stiff "stem". The barbules are the rows of soft fibers that grow out of the shaft, the feathery part of the feather. Each barbule has tiny hooks along its length that connect it to the ones beside it. That's what makes a feather firm enough to allow flight, or provide a protective covering. The barbules can get un-hooked from each other, then the bird looks all disheveled and has to preen itself to put its feathers back together.

    I wonder now if I'm just trying to work too fast, tearing the skin too roughly instead of cutting & peeling more carefully. I'll try working more slowly & carefully next time, see if that makes a difference. Maybe other folks haven't noticed this as much since many people process white CXs. This feather residue is much more noticeable on dark-colored birds.
  8. dancingbear

    dancingbear Chillin' With My Peeps

    Aug 2, 2008
    South Central KY
    Sunny_Side, I understand exactly what you mean. I don't normally skin chickens because I like the skin, even on the crock pot birds. Once in a while there one that's gets kind of mangled and I try to skin it, and I've had the same thing happen. My birds are often dark, or at least not pure white.

    I have a similar problem with deer when we process one, here's always some hair in that gelatinous membrane. If there's enough membrane to get a hold of, I kind of lift up the layer of goo and slice it off, taking off the hair along with the slippery goo.

    You're right, it's a PITA. Easier for me to pluck. Too bad you can't pluck deer! (well, I guess you could, but....)
  9. Beekissed

    Beekissed Flock Master

    I know exactly what you mean and it helps if you don't have a soggy bird. The membrane of which you speak is gelatinous and sticks like glue to any fine hairs or feathers, so the trick is to keep it less fluid and a little tacky, but not dry. This is why I don't immerse my birds or soak them for any length of time. The other reason is that I don't like soggy, pale meat. I like my chicken pink!

    I pack mine in ice but not ice water, as soon as I process each bird, after first rinsing with the garden hose. Then they are moved into the kitchen and placed in a clean, dry sink. The surface is usually moist but not slippery when done this way. I hand pick all little "hairs" from this surface. Cut the bird into pieces. Inspect again for stray hairs and undesirable gristle or bloody strands of stuff. Then thoroughly rinse under water, placed in a drying rack while processing other carcasses, then put into a ziploc for a rest in the fridge for 48 hours. Then the freezer.

    Voila! No fine hairs/feathers! [​IMG]
  10. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    [​IMG] Thank you, DancingBear & BeeKissed! I was starting to think it was just me seeing things.

    I'll try the drier method suggested for cooling down & preparing for wrapping. Here in South Fla's summer swelter my concern has been to get the finished carcasses to cool down as quickly as they can, that's why I was using the ice water. Plus, I'm such a cheapskate that I don't want to buy a bag of ice for each butchering session so ice water makes my frige ice go further.

    And then, since I'm usually doing all the butchering alone by myself, by the time I've gotten 6 birds from the yard into the cooler I feel done for the day! That's why I'll wait until the next day to pull them out of the ice, TRY and remove those feathery bits while giving the birds their final rinse, and set them in the refrigerator to rest before cooking.

    But I'll certainly give your dry method a try next time, I've got 4 RIRs scheduled to go in the next week, I hope that will make the difference!

    Now here's a tip that might help you -- instead of using store-bought plastic bags to place the birds in just while they're resting in the frige, I'm now using plastic shopping bags. They make a nice neat package for whole birds. I place them head-down in a bottom corner, pull the excess up and start twisting it into a rope over the top of the leg bone and wrap it around the ends of the leg bones, making a knot. A little juice may still seep out, I place them in a baking pan in the frige to catch it. I find the bags from Target are the sturdiest. And I don't feel so bad about throwing away a bag that was just used for a few days.

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