I've mentioned that we are trying to make room in our chest freezer for the applesauce and chickens that will need freezing next month. One way of making space was to eat all the frozen meals we had tucked away in there for when Miriam was born. We're still eating them and it's been a wonderful gift as we've all been getting used to fall school schedules.
In addition to the freezer meals, we had our last two whole chickens from last year in there. We took a break from having chicken in our diet this summer. Not deliberately, but because there has been so much else to eat. Taking a break from eating chicken around here means taking a break from eating meat in general. We haven't missed it a bit. Cooked and shredded, those two chickens will take up a lot less space and will be ready for suppers next month when I have to start cooking again.
When we harvest our chickens, we skin them. This is an easy way to get the feathers off, too. To cook them, I place two skinned, whole chickens in my large cooking pot with about two inches of water in the bottom.
I put on the lid, turn the heat on high and once it's boiling, turn it down to medium.
Then, I set the timer for 10 minutes, checking the chickens then and every five minutes after until they show no pinkness.
I want them thoroughly cooked, but not over-cooked (they'll get tough). Once they are done, I remove the pot from the heat and let them cool a bit. I want them cool enough to handle, but still warm.
Then, I set up shop on the counter and with fingers and knife and fork, pull the chicken off the bones, chopping the larger pieces as I go. I store the meat in plastic bags and containers, allowing them to cool before closing and then back in the freezer they go- taking up much less space and ready and waiting to be thrown into meals.
We freeze our chickens in these giant Ziploc bags (two a bag). We wash and reuse the bags, but only for raw chicken the next fall.
In the bottom of the pot, I end up with a quart of chicken stock. I store this in the fridge and use it to make soup sometime that same week.