Chick Farm in Wells, Maine
Frequently Asked Questions

Eggs

What makes an egg organic?
What does "free-range" mean?
Are your eggs fertilized?
Are fertile eggs healthier?
Are brown eggs better than white eggs?

Chicken

How do I cut up a whole chicken?
What does "free-range" mean?
How should I thaw frozen chicken?

Fruits & Veggies

What are new potatoes?
What are pole beans?


What makes an egg organic?

Eggs that are labelled "organic" must be produced according to the USDA National Organic Program (NOP) standard. The NOP standard spells out specific requirements for how the laying hens are raised, including their feed, housing, and health care. The hens must have enough room to move around comfortably (no battery cages), they must have access to the outdoors when weather permits, and they cannot be treated with antibiotics, growth hormones, or synthetic pesticides. They must also be fed a 100% organic diet.
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What does "free-range" mean?

A free-range animal is one that is allowed to range freely outdoors. All of our chickens, both meat birds and laying hens, have outdoor access during daylight hours (weather permitting, of course) and are at times allowed to roam about freely. But to protect them from predators, we usually keep them inside a fenced enclosure, always making sure they have plenty of room to romp around.
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Are your eggs fertilized?

Yes, if we have a rooster in with the hens. As of spring 2012, our handsome Foghorn Leghorn ("Foggy" for short) is on the job, so to speak, making sure that most of our eggs are fertile.
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Are fertile eggs healthier?

There are plenty of folks who claim that fertile eggs are better for you. After researching it a bit, we tend to agree with this quote from a wiseGEEK article about fertilized eggs:

There has been much argument about the health benefits of fertilized eggs with some claiming that they are nutritionally superior to unfertilized ones. There may be some health benefits to eating very fresh eggs, fertilized or not, though these may be extremely minimal. Eggs do start to lose protein the longer they sit, though refrigeration helps to arrest protein loss. Most scientific nutritional organizations claim there is little to no difference in nutritional benefits between fertilized and non-fertilized eggs.

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Are brown eggs better than white eggs?

The color of an egg's shell has no effect on what's inside the egg. Shell color is determined by the breed of chicken. Some breeds lay brown eggs, some lay white eggs, and some even lay blue or green eggs. The color of the hen doesn't tell you much either -- there are brown hens that lay white eggs and white hens that lay brown eggs. Brown eggs tend to be more expensive in the store because brown-egg breeds tend to be bigger -- and therefore eat more grain -- than white-egg breeds.
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How should I thaw frozen chicken?

A whole frozen chicken is best defrosted in the refrigerator. The general guideline is to allow five hours per pound of meat, meaning that an average chicken would take 15 to 25 hours to thaw.

If you're in a hurry, a much faster method is to thaw the chicken in cold water. Do not use hot water. The cold water keeps the outer part of the chicken cold enough to prevent bacterial growth as the inner part of the chicken thaws.

Thawing a whole bird quickly:

  1. Leave the frozen chicken in its packaging and place it in an airtight plastic bag, sealing to prevent chicken juices from escaping. This will also prevent the chicken from absorbing water. Place the frozen chicken in a roasting pan or in the sink and fill with cold water. The chicken should be completely submerged in the water.
  2. Change the water every 30 minutes, always adding cold tap water. Don't be tempted to add warm water to make the chicken defrost more quickly. According to the USDA, the danger zone – the temperature range in which bacteria multiply rapidly in food – is between 40 degrees and 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm water would put the chicken into this danger zone while it is thawing.
  3. Remove the chicken from the water when it is completely thawed. This takes about 30 minutes per pound, so a chicken can usually be defrosted in 1.5 to 2.5 hours.
  4. Cook the chicken immediately or store in the refrigerator for up to two days. If you are planning on marinating the chicken, place it in the refrigerator in a clean, resealable plastic bag, not at room temperature. Cook the chicken first if you plan to refreeze it.
  5. Rinse the sink or roasting pan and clean it thoroughly with hot soapy water. As an extra precaution, you can add 1 teaspoon of bleach to a gallon of water to disinfect any surface that may have come into contact with juices from the chicken.
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How do I cut up a whole chicken?

We found a good video from the Mark Bittman magazine, courtesy of the New York Times, showing how to cut up a chicken.

Another method is described here:

  1. Place the chicken backbone down (breast up) on a clean, flat cutting surface.
  2. Use a standard, sharp kitchen knife to slice off the wing joints. The wings can be set aside and reserved for stock. One breast and leg is removed at a time. Follow Steps 3 through 9 to remove the first breast and leg. You will repeat these steps on the other side of the bird.
  3. Make a shallow incision running along one side of the breastplate.
  4. Deepen the incision by slicing into the chicken toward the rib cage. Pull the meat away from the rib cage as you slice down. As you progress further into the bird, slide the knife off of the rib cage repeatedly to ensure that you are removing any meat attached to the rib cage.
  5. Your knife will come to a point, just underneath the wishbone, where the wing joint meets the rib cage. The wing joint cartilage is soft enough to slice through easily. Slice completely through the joint, stopping only when your knife reaches the cutting surface. At this point, the breast is almost completely off the bird.
  6. Slice through the skin that runs from the tail end of the bird to the point where the leg meets the breast.
  7. The breast should come off of the bird with little effort. Pull the breast outwards, away from the bird being careful not to rip or tear the flesh. Some minor slicing through still-attached skin may still be required to remove the breast.
  8. Cut through the leg joint until you reach the point where the leg bone meets the body. Keep in mind that this joint can be difficult to cut through and stop cutting when you reach bone. Do not attempt to cut through the leg bone.
  9. Grasp the leg and pull it behind the bird, pressing your fingers into the back of the joint until the joint pops loose. You will feel the bone pop out of the socket. Remove the leg by cutting in and around the joint. Keep cutting until you have freed the leg from the body. Now, turn the bird around and remove the other breast and leg using the same method explained in steps 3 through 9.

The remaining carcass, along with the wings, can be used for making soup stock. The final cuts of meat can be deboned further (if you prefer) and used in your favorite chicken recipes.
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What are new potatoes?

Because they store so well through the winter, potatoes have traditionally been grown as a storage crop. Storage potatoes are put through a process called "curing" which toughens their skins so they can hold up well under storage conditions. "New" potatoes are simply potatoes that are freshly dug and have not been cured. The skin of a new potato is thin and tender, so there's no need to peel it. With their fresh full flavor and tender delicious skins, new potatoes are a true summertime treat.
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What are pole beans?

Once upon a time, all snap beans grew as a climbing vine. Gardeners used poles or trellises to support the vines, hence the name "pole bean" But all that trellising was a nuisance for commercial growers, so plant breeders developed "bush" snap bean varieties that grow low to the ground and produce smoother, more uniform beans. Most commercial growers use these varieties exclusively, not only to avoid trellising but also because bush varieties are well-suited to mechanical harvesting. But here's the catch: as with most plant breeding, gains in one area mean losses in another, and with snap beans it's flavor. Try some and we're confident you'll agree - the robust flavor of the old-time pole bean varieties just can't be beat. Well worth the trouble of putting up a trellis. And don't be put off by their size - they'll cook up nice and tender, and they also freeze beautifully. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do.
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