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Plucking - We had a hard time!

Discussion in 'Meat Birds ETC' started by Ravie, May 20, 2011.

  1. Ravie

    Ravie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 4, 2010
    Greenfield, Indiana
    Hi everyone,

    I butchered my very first meat bird this week. He as big and rather tasty, but I really had a hard time plucking him. We do not have a plucker, and my husband has hand-plucked chickens before. He said he'd never had such trouble plucking anything before. The bird we butchered was a Cornish X and was somewhere between 8-9 weeks old. We dunked him in 150ish degree water for about 60 seconds before trying to defeather him. We spent about an hour trying to get him cleaned of feathers and eventually ended up skinning him. I was so sad. I had envisioned crispy, crunchy skin on my next roast.

    Is there anything we could have done differently?
     
  2. jenny_kap

    jenny_kap Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Feb 20, 2011
    Romania
    the water was not hot enough. warm it up until the feathers come out easy. forget about degrees. just dip the chicken in the water for 40-50 seconds and if the feathers from the tail and from the wings don't come out easy, the water is not hot enough, so you keep it on fire longer, until the feathers can be removed easy.
     
  3. Buster52

    Buster52 Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Jan 28, 2009
    Geronimo Oklahoma
    150 should be fine. Are you sure your thermometer is right? Or were you just guessing?
     
  4. Ravie

    Ravie Chillin' With My Peeps

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    Aug 4, 2010
    Greenfield, Indiana
    Awesome. Thank-you! I will try that. The tail and wing feathers were particularly difficult.

    I had it to 150, but I don't have an outdoor heating element. So I carried the pot out and then dunked the bird. I don't know how fast it cools, but the water was still too hot for my fingers and very steamy!
     
  5. Dogfish

    Dogfish Rube Goldberg incarnate

    Mar 17, 2010
    Western Washington
    Butchered a bird last night. Get a biotherm, about $7 at the store. Bring water up to 150 degrees. Add a bit of dish soap, just a few drops, this helps wet the feathers by breaking surface tension. Dunk for 60-90 seconds. Start out at 60, check wing tip feathers and if they release easily, start plucking. Any resistance, keep scalding.

    How did you measure teh water temp. It sounds, like others have said, you weren't to temp.
     
  6. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    I use a thermometer to help me estimate my scalding water temps, I'm not sure how accurate it is. I've used my quick-read meat thermometer, also a glass candy thermometer. I try to get the water around 150 degrees according to those instruments. Then I dunk the bird, plunging him up & down about 10 times so the water gets down to the skin. After 10 plunges I try to pull out one of those big wing feathers. When it just slides out easily, with no resistence, I know the bird is ready to pluck.

    If I get a good scald then plucking is as easy as wiping the lint out of the dryer trap. It really shouldn't be difficult. If you find that the feathers don't wipe away easily, then you need to dunk your bird longer and/or have hotter water.

    Each butchering session usually has something to teach that makes the next one go easier & faster. Enjoy your home-grown meal anyway!
     
  7. bja105

    bja105 Out Of The Brooder

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    May 3, 2009
    Western PA
    Everybody should have an outdoor burner, either propane or natural gas. We got ours for scalding chickens, but use it for canning outside or boiling corn, or cooking veggies. In hot weather, its great to keep the house cooler.

    We fill a pot with hot water from the tap, then add some dish soap and onto the burner next to the killing cones. A pot of cold water is next to the scalder. Scald at 150 degrees until the flight feathers can be pulled out easily, into the cold water dunk, then pluck as fast as possible. The sooner you can get feathers off, the easier they are.
     
  8. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Quote:That's been on my wish list for a long time, Santa hasn't yet put one in my stocking. I've been asking on Freecycle for something like this, or a turkey fryer. Instead I've been boiling pots of water on the stove inside, and it's usually my teen son's job to bring it out. I usually have to work alone, and I do 2 birds at once. When I have 2 hanging to bleed I call to my son to bring out a pot of boiling water to pour in a 5-gallon bucket I keep by the processing station. The water stays hot to scald 2 birds for plucking, and gets refreshed for the next two.

    Today I'm processing 6 roosters and my son is out at his youth group's car wash. So I'm going to try to heat the water over a wood fire I'll build nearby the processing station. I made a ring of cinder blocks & have an iron grate that can rest on them, and the pots go on top. I won't scald in the pots over the fire, just heat the water there and pour it into another bucket for scalding. If this works well, my son won't have to carry heavy hot pots of boiling water across the yard any more!
     
  9. Arielle

    Arielle Chicken Obsessed

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    Feb 19, 2011
    Massachusetts, USA
    I just have to ask . . . . I did 6 geese and had a very difficult time plucking. Like an hour each!!! I'm not kidding. One was fairly easy, the first one, then the remaining ones were much more difficult. This is with a burner, and soapy hot water almost boiling. I wore those rubber platex gloves and got the soapy water into the greasy goose feathers.

    Could the difficulty be that feathers are harder to remove the longer the carcass is sitting around on ice waiting for it's turn in the hot water??????
     
  10. Sunny Side Up

    Sunny Side Up Count your many blessings...

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    Mar 12, 2008
    Loxahatchee, Florida
    Arielle, I think that waterfowl need different treatment for plucking, their feathers are so much more oily. I've not done any myself.

    But today I processed 6 roosters, 2 RIR and 4 Blue Plymouth Rocks. They were about 8 months old, I think, I sort of lost track of their age. The RIRs are nice & big, the Rocks not as much. I had the water heating over the wood fire as I described, it did a great job of getting it up to a boil and the fuel was free.

    Now I need to buy myself a new thermometer, I couldn't find my other ones when I was ready to begin, grrr! I didn't have time to go out to the store, so I figured I'd give it my best guess. I did the birds 2 at a time, and the water wasn't hot enough for the first 2. So I learned by experience that it's the temp of the water that makes the difference between an easy or a difficult pluck. No matter how long I dunked the first 2 birds their feathers still were difficult to get out. I made the water hotter for the next batches and there was a big improvement, the feathers could almost be wiped off.

    If the water is too hot then the skin will cook & peel. But if it's not hot enough you'll be tugging on the feathers forever trying to clean your bird. I can change the scalding water temp by adding more or less hose water to the 5-gallon bucket after pouring in the pot of boiling water.
     

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