Poultry that has been properly raised, killed, transported, and
stored is very likely to come into the market in such condition that it cannot be readily distinguished from freshly killed birds. When exposed to warmer temperatures, however, storage poultry spoils much more quickly than does fresh poultry.
For this reason, if there is any evidence that poultry has been in
storage, it should be cooked as soon as possible after purchase.
There are really two kinds of cold-storage poultry: that which is kept at a temperature just above freezing and delivered within a few weeks after slaughtering, and that which is frozen and kept in
storage a much longer time.
When properly cared for, either one is preferable to freshly killed poultry that is of poor quality or has had a chance to spoil. Poultry that has been frozen must be thawed carefully. It should be first placed in a refrigerator and allowed to thaw to that temperature before it is placed in a warmer one.
It should never be thawed by putting it into warm water. Thawing it in this way really helps it to decompose. A sure indication of cold-storage poultry is the pinched look it possesses, a condition brought about by packing the birds tightly against one another. Storage poultry usually has the head and feet left on and its entrails are not removed. Indeed, it has been determined by experiment that poultry will keep better if these precautions are observed.
The removal of the entrails seems to affect the internal cavity of
the bird so that it does not keep well, and as a matter of safety it should be cooked quickly after this has been done in the home.
SELECTION OF CHICKEN
To be able to select chicken properly, the housewife must be familiar with the terms that are applied to chickens to designate their age or the cookery process for which they are most suitable.
Chicken is a general name for all varieties of this kind of poultry, but in its specific use it means a common domestic fowl that is less than 1 year old. Fowl is also a general term; but in its restricted use
in cookery it refers to the full-grown domestic hen or cock over 1 year of age, as distinguished from the
chicken or pullet.
A broiler is chicken from 2 to 4 months old which, because of its tenderness, is suitable for broiling. A frying chicken is at least 6 months old, and a roasting chicken is between 6 months and 1 year old. With these terms understood, it can readily be seen that if fried chicken is desired a 2-year-old fowl would not be a wise purchase.
The quality of the bird is the next consideration in the selection of chicken. A number of things have a bearing on the quality. Among these, as has already been pointed out, are the feeding and care that the
bird has received during its growth, the way in which it has been prepared for market, and so on.
All of these things may be determined by careful observation before making a purchase. However, if the bird is drawn, and especially if the head and feet are removed, there is less chance to determine these things accurately.