How To Choose Many Different Types Of Poultry

Foods & DrinksFood

  • Author Joseph Silva
  • Published May 19, 2009
  • Word count 711

The determination of quality, especially freshness, is much the same for other kinds of poultry as it is for chicken. In fact, the same points apply in most cases, but each kind seems to have a few distinguishing features, which are here pointed out.

SELECTION OF TURKEYS.--Turkeys rank next to chickens in popularity as food. They are native to America and are perhaps better known here than in foreign countries. Turkey is a much more seasonal food than chicken, it being best in the fall. Cold-storage turkey that has been killed at that time, provided it is properly stored and cared for, is better than fresh turkey marketed out of season.

The age of a turkey can be fairly accurately told by the appearance of its feet. Very young turkeys have black feet, and as they mature the feet gradually grow pink, so that at more than 1 year old the feet will be found to be pink. However, as the bird grows still older, the color again changes, and a 3-year-old turkey will have dull-gray or blackish looking feet. The legs, too, serve to indicate the age of turkeys. Those of a young turkey are smooth, but as the birds grow older they gradually become rough and scaly. A young turkey will have spurs that are only slightly developed, whereas an old turkey will have long, sharp ones.

Turkeys are seldom marketed when they are very young. But in spite of the fact that this is occasionally done, the mature birds are more generally marketed. Turkeys often reach a large size, weighing as much as 20 to 25 pounds. A mature turkey has proportionately a larger amount of flesh and a smaller amount of bone than chicken; hence, even at a higher price per pound, turkey is fully as economical as chicken.

SELECTION OF DUCKS.--Ducks probably come next to turkeys in popularity for table use. Young ducks are sold in the market during the summer and are called spring duck. The mature ducks may be purchased at any time during the year, but they are best in the winter months.

The flexibility of the windpipe is an excellent test for the age of ducks. In the young bird, the windpipe may be easily moved; whereas, in the old one, it is stationary and quite hard. The meat of ducks is dark over the entire bird, and the greatest amount is found on the breast. Its flavor is quite typical, and differs very much from turkey and chicken. However, there is a comparatively small amount of meat even on a good-sized duck, and it does not carve to very good advantage; in fact, more persons can be served from a chicken or a turkey of the same weight. Young ducks are rather difficult to clean, as a layer of fine down, which is not easily removed, covers the skin.

SELECTION OF GEESE.--Geese are much more commonly used for food in foreign countries than in America. Their age may be told in the same way as that of ducks, namely, by feeling of the windpipe. The flesh is dark throughout and rather strongly flavored. The fat is used quite extensively for cooking purposes, and even as a butter substitute in some countries. Because of this fact, geese are generally fattened before they are slaughtered, and often half the weight of the bird is fat. The livers of fattened geese reach enormous proportions and are considered a delicacy. They are used for pate de fois gras. Usually, this is put up in jars and brings a very high price.

SELECTION OF PIGEONS.--Pigeons are raised primarily for their use as squabs. These are young birds about 4 weeks old, and their meat is tender and agreeable to the taste. The meat of the mature pigeon becomes quite tough and unpalatable. The breast is the only part of the bird that has meat on it in any quantity, and this meat is slightly lighter in color than that which comes from the remainder of the body. Midsummer is the best season for squabs, but they can be purchased at other times of the year. The cost of squabs is too high to allow them to be used extensively as a food in the ordinary household.

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