Know Your Chickens
Simple facts to help you select the best chicken for you and your family for your cooking needs.
Roaster, fryer, broiler - what does all the mean?
The chickens that you purchase from the meat counter at your grocery store or local meat market are raised for meat. These are not the same kind of chickens that produce eggs. They are from breeds like White Rock, Cobb, Ross, etc. Here are names you may see them labeled under: Broiler-fryer, Roaster, Capon, Stewing or Rooster.
Broiler-fryer - most cuts you see come from this chicken - it is a young, tender chicken about 7 weeks old that weights 2 ½ to 4 ½ pounds when eviscerated (processed) They come whole and cut up in pieces.
Roaster - a little bit older than a broiler-fryer - 8 to 12 weeks old that weigh from 5 to 8 pounds. They yield more meat than a broiler-fryer. Usually these are your whole "roaster" birds.
Capon - not too often seen any more - but may be available in certain areas. This is a male chicken about 16 weeks old that are surgically unsexed. They weight about 4 to 7 pounds and have generous quantities of tender, light meat - usually marketed as a roaster.
Stewing/Baking Hen - a mature laying hen which is around 10 months to 1 ½ years old. This meat will be less tender so would be best in stews or soups.
Cock or Rooster - a mature male chicken with coarse skin and tough dark meat - the least desirable type - would require long, slow cooking.
Read the Label:
Does the package say all natural? If so, does it explain why it is all natural?
Is it all vegetable fed?
No added by-products or animal oils?
Is it antibiotic free? This means the chicken cannot receive any antibiotics in the feed or water during the course of their life. There are only a few raised this way, you need to read the label to make sure. Not many have this claim on the label.
No hormones - a good thing, - but all poultry is required to be hormone free.
Last - how was it processed? Something sometimes we don't realize can change what you are purchasing.
Was it processed naturally with no enhancements or injections?
Has it been enhanced? Read to make sure that it has not been injected - it should state minimally processed - others may be injected with water or salt products - you want chicken, not water.
Pine Manor Farms is also "Air-Chilled" which is explained more in depth on this site, but in short it means that the chicken was chilled by air not immersed in a water bath for cooling.
Knowing this information will help you make the choices you want to make for yourself and family.