Sunday, June 5, 2011

There's still time (a little) to come to the Mother Earth News Fair today

OK, people, listen up: It's a beautiful day, and you need to spend at least part of it at the Mother Earth News Fair at the Puyallup Fairgrounds. (See the Mother Earth News Fair web site for more information, directions, etc.) It is amazing! Several hundred exhibits, including animals, solar panels, grain grinders, book publishers, food vendors, lots of different stages with speakers covering a range of sustainable-living topics, even a stage and activities for kids.

I had a great time yesterday, talking about raising turkeys. What a wonderful audience; if you were there, thank you so much for coming! It was actually a new experience for me, and I truly enjoyed sharing our experiences and answering your questions. I've already met quite a few terrific people, including authors Carol Ekarius and Ann Larkin Hansen, and watercolor artist Carolyn Guske and her husband. This weekend is going by much too quickly!

I will be doing a reprise of my presentation, "Turkeys aren't Chickens: The basics of raising turkeys," today at 4:00 PM, on the ALBC stage in the Centennial Building. I'd like to thank the folks at Mother Earth News, the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy, and sponsors such as Storey Publishing for this incredible opportunity; I'm loving every minute of it.

We're all more interested these days in finding ways to live better while consuming fewer of our own resources, as well as those of the world at large. The Mother Earth News Fair is simply overflowing with exhibits, classes, fun activities, gifts and all kinds of educational materials designed to streamline our efforts to improve our lives and environment. Come on down, and bring the whole family; it's only about a 45-minute drive from Seattle. Trust me, you'll be glad you did.


  1. Hi Victoria, I was at Mother Earth News Fair and listened to you talk on turkeys. I have a question for you, when you harvest your turkeys do you soak them after everything is done and then freeze? We have harvested two of our Narrangasett turkeys, one tom and one hen and both times, the darker meat on the legs has been tougher. Just wondered what your process is. Thanks so much, and next year we may be trying some Midget Whites too!

  2. Hi Tamara,

    Thanks for coming to the Fair! Hmm, freezing turkeys? We actually live off the grid and don't currently have any way to freeze turkeys. We generally slaughter turkeys the Monday and Tuesday before Thanksgiving, and customers take home fresh turkeys. That being said, I'll still try to answer your question.

    Several things can be factors in poultry meat seeming "tough". You didn't say whether you free-range your birds or not, but all the heritage breed turkeys (like Narragansetts and White Midget) are good foragers and like to roam. What seems like "tough" meat to you may actually just be the difference between a bird that got some exercise in its life and one that didn't (like the typical grocery-store turkey). If this is the first time you've slaughtered your turkeys, I'd bet this is the answer, especially since you particularly noticed it on the legs.

    If the bird is stressed or fearful right before slaughter, both the flavor and tenderness can be affected. I would expect it to affect the whole bird, though, not just the legs.

    As far as soaking them, do you mean soaking in a brine? I like to brine my turkeys before either roasting or smoking (see my post "How to cook your heritage turkey," November 13, 2010), but I don't think I would soak a turkey before freezing. On the other hand, if you do soak them, I doubt that would affect the tenderness of the meat.

    Also, what age were your turkeys when you slaughtered them? We have had the best results when we've grown them for a minimum of seven months.

    I hope this is helpful, Tamara. I always appreciate questions like this, partly because I imagine other people have the same question, and also because I learn a lot this way. :)