Fastest Way to Pluck a Chicken??` : LUSENET : Countryside : One Thread

WEll..I am plucking (for the first time) our cornish roasters with my husband killing them. The plucking part seems to take me forever... 15+ min a bird. Enyclopedi of Country Living reccomends 30 seconds in hot water.. till feathers start to pull easily. I have been hanging them from their feet with twine from a tree at arm level for plucking.

One person said 145 deg. another 160 deg. Emery's book says 130-180 deg. It seems that at 150 the skin started to come off easy.

Q) Does the length of time really make a difference... 30 sec vs. 4 min ( I saw mentioned)

Q) How long should/does it take for others to pluck??

Q) What happens to any tiny little quill parts stuck in the bird if missed and then cooked? Smells? etc..

Q) Any specific pattern to make plucking easier??

Q)Is it really important to pluck with the direction the feather grows?

Q) What kind of difference does chilling for 24 hrs before freezing make? I saw this mentioned previously.

Your comments and experience would be valuable to me... we have a bunch more to go.

blessings, Meagan

-- Meagan Fuson (, September 03, 2001


I have found it a lot faster to skin the chickens. I know that some of you will not agree with this but we do not eat the skin anyway. Also, if you cool the chicken for 24 - 48 hours in the refrig. it seems to make them more tender. We cut up our chikens, cool them and then freeze them. We also use one of those vaccume sealers.

-- Tom S. (, September 03, 2001.

thanks for your help.. i found that the skin was nicer for roasting as it keeps the juices in.. otherwise I wouldn't bother!

thanks.. meagan

-- meagan Fuson (, September 03, 2001.

Chilling them for 24-48 hours helps to loosen the muscle to make for a more tender bird. It is the aging process. Just like you age meat. The muscle will constrict if you freeze it right away and the bird will not be very tender.

Plucking temp. does matter. You want to be able to get the feathers off but if too hot it cooks and tears the skin. As the reader above suggests, if you don't eat the skin, take it and the feathers off.

Since you are a "beginner" it is going to take you longer. Just be patient, you will pick up speed the next couple times around. I don't hang them up to pluck. I just lay them on the table and take it by the hands full the way the feathers grow. They will come out easier. Also, you need to pluck as soon as you get it out of the hot water. If it is taking you more than 5-8 min. you will have to redip in the hot water. As soon as it cools down they get hard to pluck again. I don't know how long I dip mine. I just put them in the water (deep enough to cover the bird) and just slosh it around for...oh..let's see......oh guess about 30- 40 seconds.

You do need to check over the bird when you are done plucking and gutting (plucking comes first). Then you can get those pin feathers. I use a table knife between my thumb and finger or you can use a pair of pliers. You can also singe of those tiny thin ones around the wings, etc. I use a candle or one of those big butane lighters you use to light the fireplace or grill.

Be sure and don't butcher when your chickens are molting. They will be LOADED with pin feathers and you can spend an hour per bird to get it completely clean!

You will do fine once you get the hang of it. Best of luck!

-- Karen (, September 03, 2001.

Meagan, If you will add 1/4 to 1/2 c. baking soda to your hot water before plucking, it will make things go faster and easier. We singe the hairs off of the chicken before cleaning. Have fun. Barb

-- Barbara Fischer (, September 03, 2001.

My chicken cleaning mentor and also another Countrysider in another discussion recommended a dash of dishwashing liquid to the scalding water too. She also had really good rubber gloves so that we could work the hot water in around all the feathers too. I have tried hanging for plucking and the table method and I must say I prefer the table. Plucking is TEDIOUS to say the least but there's no hope for it but skinning. I find I am slow as cold molasses too. Seems you got them all and then its, whoops look theres a bunch that got missed. Best of luck. I wish I could afford a plucking machine!LOL

-- Alison in N.S. (, September 03, 2001.

Meagan, this hint is for plucking chickens and every other chore you do outside. Drive over to the power or telephone utilities yard with prior permission and get several spools. They are wooden and come in many sizes, they hose down good, or sanitize with a bucket of clorox water, I have even covered the end, or top, of one with visqueen to make a cleaner surface also, and I can't paint, pluck or pot (flowers) without one. Maureen

-- Maureen Stevenson (, September 03, 2001.

This year for the first time I wore dish washing gloves while I plucked my chickens. It helped alot. We had some Cornish X that were kinda old and they went in 165 degree water for 45-60 seconds. When I got to our 6 week old Cornish X I had to lower the temp to 145 and dip for about 30 seconds or else the skin ripped apart.

-- Dave in WI (Kabby@ITOL.Com), September 03, 2001.

Hi Meagan. Be watching for a new post about processing of chickens. I have a book that gives instructions on the proper method of killing, plucking, and proper storage. I'm going to try to get it all on a post so everyone can use it as a guideline.

-- r.h. in okla. (, September 03, 2001.

I agree with the skinning of the chickens. My husband and I can do about 15 chickens in an hour from barnyard to kitchen sink to be rinsed out. Put them in an oven bag if you like them a little moist as if you had the skin on. I think the time it takes to pluck and all it's just easier to baste them or use the bags. Good Luck and Happy Eating. Are we all invited to the chicken bar-b-que ????!!!!

-- Helena (, September 06, 2001.

I've found with pin feathers, on chickens I've bought at the market, that sometimes you can get two thumbs behind them and give the skin a squeeze (like you would to force a splinter or blackhead out) they'll pop right out of the skin most of the time. I keep a pair of scissor- type tweezers handy for the ones that are stubborn because the needle nose pliers are usually out in the workshop covered with grease.

-- Claudia Glass (, September 06, 2001.

Hi Meagan. I've just started butchering my broilers for cornish hens and got to thinking that it would be much faster to skin them out. When it comes time to cook them I will just wrap bacon around them like I do quail and dove breast. It both seasons and help keeps the juices in.

-- r.h. in okla. (, September 07, 2001.

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