Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Dreaming of Duckling

The ducks turned eight weeks old on Monday, so it's just about time to slaughter the excess Pekin drakes. In Arizona, I had tried dry picking the ducks that I slaughtered, but it never worked well. In every case, I gave up in frustration and skinned them instead. Dry picking is supposed to give you better quality down feathers, but that doesn't mean much if you can't get them off the bird in the first place!

This time I will be scalding them before plucking, just like I learned to do on the chickens last year. The only difficulty is that I don't have any pots big enough to dunk a duck in. Somewhere on the web, I saw a tip for scalding geese: pour boiling water into a metal garbage can until there's enough to dip the bird in, and once the water cools to the right temperature you can scald. I plan to try this with the ducks, but I need to get a clean garbage can first.

The big thing I'm looking forward to is the rendered duck fat. That stuff is delicious, and great for cooking. The cast iron griddle seems to like it even better than bacon grease.


Tracy said...

I have a huge cast iron pot I use for this -- although, quite honestly, I'm not looking forward to butchering day for the ducks and chickens :( Such work - so hot; and it never leaves me in the mood to actually eat them.

Mel said...

I'm usually not in the mood to eat them that day, but after a few days in the refrigerator, they start to look really good again.

And given the amount of feed these ducks are eating (about 100 lbs of grower pellets every week and a half), I'm looking forward to thinning the flock down a bit. They're also just about old enough to start cutting the protein down in their feed, too.