Chicken Processing and Homemade Chicken Stock

Chicken Processing

Two weeks ago was chicken processing weekend. When I say chicken processing, it’s merely a nicer way of saying slaughtering, butchering, etc. Our Cornish Cross chickens were 8 ½ weeks old and were at the end of their line. Cornish Cross is a hybrid breed of chicken that is specifically bred to be meat chickens that grow out to a marketable weight by 8 weeks old. They grow ridiculously fast in comparison to regular heritage breed chickens. This was our first time processing chickens, and it went really well. We combined efforts with our neighbors whom also raised this same kind of chicken. They came over to help with ours on that Saturday, and we went to their house the next day to process theirs.

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Our meat chickens have been raised out on pasture since they were 3 weeks old. They lived in chicken tractors (movable coops), which we moved forward every other day to a fresh spot. We also fed them certified organic chicken feed as a supplement to what they scratched up and ate out on pasture. Knowing that these chickens had a great life made ending their lives much easier (especially in comparison to the current standard in commercial chicken farms). We processed the chickens in the same pasture they lived on for the past 5 weeks, which I think is the most fair for the animal. There was no stressful traveling to a slaughter house or crammed crates.

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Nic built an automatic chicken plucker based on the whiz bang model. The plucker worked great (click link below to watch a 20 second video of it). This made the process much easier since we didn’t have to spend a lot of time plucking. This was a first time experience for all involved, and we learned so much faster than we expected to. By the second day, I felt almost like an expert! Not really, but I did improve significantly from the first day. I feel much more confident doing it again in the future. I definitely recommend learning how to properly process a chicken. Even if you have just a few extra roosters to cull, nothing compares to homegrown, home-prepared, fresh chicken for dinner!

Chicken Plucker Video

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I wanted to use as much of the chickens as possible. So we saved the giblets, feet, necks and heads of the chickens to use for making homemade chicken stock. You can also use chicken bones. Here is how I did it:

Homemade Chicken Stock

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Preparing the chicken/chicken parts:

-Rinse all chicken parts with cold water

-For chicken feet:           

-Heat a small pot of water

-Once it reaches a low boil dip chicken feet for about 10-15 seconds (you will notice toes flex straight)

-Take out feet and begin to peel the outer layer of skin on the feet

-Continue peeling feet through to the toes, the toe skin kind of comes off like a sock

-You will need to also pull the first layer off the nails as well

-Once all the skin is peeled, clip the toe nails off, I used sanitized dog nail trimmers

-Rinse off feet and set aside with other chicken parts

-For chicken heads:

                -Make sure any remaining feathers are removed

Ingredients:

-About 2.5-4 lbs. of chicken parts (I didn’t really weigh mine, just eye-balled what would fit in my slow cooker with the other ingredients and 1-2 inches of water above)

-2 carrots cut in half

-2 celery stalks cut in half

-1 yellow onion quartered

-1 tablespoon of salt

-1 bay leaf

-Thyme, Parsley and Rosemary to preference or to taste

-water (enough to fill slow cooker 1-2 inches above the contents)

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Preparation:

-Place carrots, celery and onion on the bottom of the slow cooker

-Put chicken parts on top

-Place in bay leaf and sprinkle herbs and salt on top of chicken parts

-Pour in water, enough to cover contents 1-2 inches above

-Turn slow cooker to low setting, leave cooking for as long as you please, I’ve done 6 hours and I’ve done as long as 24 hours

-Turn off slow cooker; allow it to cool for a few minutes with the lid off

-Remove contents, I use a large ladle to scoop out liquid and solid contents

-Pour through a fine strainer/cheesecloth, into a large bowl

-Place bowl in the refrigerator for a few hours until the fat starts collecting at the top

-Remove bowl from refrigerator and carefully remove fat deposits on the top

-Use fresh, refrigerate, freeze, or can

To Freeze:

-Pour remaining liquid into a large sauce pot and heat until boiling

-Pour liquid into freezer space containers (I used the Ball Canning Frozen Herb Starter trays)

-Once frozen, pop the cubes out and place them in a ziplock bag for future recipes

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To Can:

(Must use a pressure canner, this is the one I have)

***This is intended for informational purposes only, please refer to and follow USDA Home Canning Guidelines***

-Pour remaining liquid into a large sauce pot and heat until boiling

-While you are waiting for stock to boil, prepare all jars, lids, and bands per canning guidelines

-Pour into jars leaving a 1 inch headspace (if using Pint jars) *Per Ball Canning Recipe*

-Place into Pressure Canner *Always follow your Pressure Canner’s user instructions*

-Since I used pint jars, I canned with 10 lbs. pressure for 20 minutes *Per Ball Canning Recipe*

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Now you have some delicious preserved homemade chicken stock to use whenever you please!

We have 50 more meat chickens on their way and will be delivered Friday. So in just over 8 weeks, we will be processing more meat chickens! I plan on adding plenty of recipes to the blog with how we cook the chickens and ways we are using the broth, so stay tuned!

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2 thoughts on “Chicken Processing and Homemade Chicken Stock

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