Cleaning Chicken Feet

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cleaning chicken feet

Chicken feet–ready to peel.

We started processing our chickens this week. I say started because we didn’t finish. Once we get the other half completed, I will update you on the stats. But for now, I want to talk about cleaning chicken feet.

One of the reasons I look so forward to butchering chickens is having healthy stock on hand. But the stock is only as healthy as what you put into it. Adding the chicken’s feet is something you do not want to leave out.

When I first heard this, I was totally grossed out. I mean I raise these birds. I watch them. I know where those little feet have been! And it ain’t pretty. So you can bet that before any of those feet go into my stock pot, they are getting a good scrubbing. And peeling!

The first thing that we do is when the hubby is scalding the bird to remove the feathers, he also dips the dirty feet into the hot water and gives them a good swishing to get most of the muck off. So, what he brings into the house is what you see in this picture. Not too bad, huh?

Next, I scrub the feet real well with an old toothbrush in some vinegar water. Make sure to separate the toes and get into the folds of skin.

The final step is the peeling. I think this is so cool. I didn’t know about this until my friend Karen explained it to me. Now I’m not so grossed out. I heat some water to about 150 degrees and put the feet, a few at a time, in it. After a minute or two, the thick, yellow, scaly skin peels right off. Like a glove! Nails and all. Sometimes the nails are a little stubborn and you have to pop them off separately. If you leave them in the water too long, they are harder to peel. That is why I only put in a few at a time.

Now I know that nothing that scratched around in my compost, or the goat doodoo, or any other disgusting thing out there, is left to go into my stock. Only the wonderful nutrients that God designed.

What about you? Ever peel chicken feet? Tell us about it.

Blessings,

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Comments

Cleaning Chicken Feet — 34 Comments

  1. I have never done this (I don’t even like to butcher my own chickens), but I was raised by my German Grandmother, and she used to ‘pull the socks off’ the chicken feet! She loved to nibble on them, after they were cooked ~ (she enjoyed pickled pigs feet, too!)I’m kinda glad that gene didn’t get passed down! :>

    • I don’t like to butcher my chickens, either. In fact, that’s work for the men-folk. They do everything and bring them to me like they came from the store. Well…practically…I do still have to pull out quite a few little feathers.

  2. LOL! I know what you mean! The first time I used chicken feet in soup was too funny. I let them cook down to practically nothing. All the joints were apart and the nails had fallen off. Our daughter pulled something out from between her teeth and asked, “what’s this?!” I took one look and knew it was a chicken toe nail….and I just smiled and said, “I don’t know”. She’s 27 and I just told her that story the other day when I was cleaning chicken feet. She almost gagged!

  3. I’ve actually done that–growing up on my parents homestead–we would peel the feet and put them in soup like you are describing!

    Thanks for stoping by my blog.

  4. I’m not sure if my mom used chicken feet, but I think my grandmother did. When I was a kid, I busted out of my awkward shy shell in the 3rd grade and took a chicken claw to school for show and tell. I showed them how you could pull the ligament and make the claw stretch…this came on the heels if me taking a rooster head the day before and making it “crow” by pulling the vocal chord. Yup…I was pretty popular those two days.

    • Wow Mari, Maybe I need you to do a post on entertaining with chicken feet. It might get me a few more followers! Thanks for coming by and commenting.

  5. Nope, never have! But when my mom and dad were dating, the first meal my grandma served my mom was soup with a chicken foot in it. She was horrified, but ate the soup. Definitely great for stock, but not for presentation! hehe :)

  6. I have heard that it is important to include chicken feet in stock but I’m not sure I could do it! I really couldn’t peel them, that is for sure! But I bet your chicken stock is absolutely wonderful – and extra nutritious too. Thank you for sharing a post that I am sure many (much braver than I!) readers will find very useful (and which I found very interesting) with the Hearth and Soul hop.

  7. Thanks for your insightful blog, I just cleaned the feet and dropped them in my soup. I don’t enjoy butchering, but hey, this is how people did it for thousands of years. Just because we are all squeamish due to our upbringing doesn’t mean there is anything wrong with it. It should be known, where do all the feet go to after millions of chickens are butchered each day? To China! So from one chicken, parts get to the USA, then some shipped round the world to the other side too. Globalization is so amazing. Also, you know the chicken wings about 25 years ago were sold for soup at a very cheap price That was the rise of the chicken wing fad (no longer a fad but a staple of our restaurants). The other day, I saw that chicken wings were more expensive than chicken breasts! So were we dumb back then and now smarter because we tasted them and now like them?

    But at the same time. So why do we waste this precious resource of ours, because we were spoon fed sanitary chicken nuggets in a cardboard and colorful box that has nothing to do with reality? That is the way they sell more chicken nuggets to kiddies. Well, we are adults here or of adult mindedness. I for one thought it odd, but I just got to do what my grandparents did in Europe on a daily basis and I thank you for showing me how.

    Thanks,
    Steve

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  9. My great-grama Helen made chicken soup several times a week her entire 95 years With feet. I loved them, & didnt realize this was an ‘old world’ thang until I was on my own (at 16) living in Hell’s Kitchen, one of the last immigrant bastions at the time in Manhattan, & could find chicken feet anywhere. The Spanish-speaking Italian grocers , to order from i learned Spanish, thought I was freaky asking for feet! haha. How things turn full spiral. Circle are a closed loop, spirals bring us back to using all the Goodness we are given, conscious of the Connection us & our food. Namaste & bwawk bwawk, y’all

  10. I scald the feet then I scald the chicken. I put the feet on the plucker and I am normally able to peel almost everything off without even touching the feet. When I butcher my old gals (after they are done laying eggs) I will tuck the feet inside the body cavity with the heart, liver and gizzard. This makes it easy to make broth!

  11. So I take it you discard the skin that you remove from the feet and only put the bones in? I got some today and am trying it for the first time. I am so glad the woman I bought them from told me to wash them, or I would have just popped them into the stock “as is” – EWWWWW!!!! ;-)

    • Hi Holly,
      What peels off is a very thin covering. The bones have flesh on them underneath so more than bones go in the pot. Let me know how it goes!

  12. How interesting! Really it is and yes it sorta grossed me out like my Granny scrambling the chicken brains for breakfast!

    My father-n-law taught me to use bones cooking them down in a pressure cooker to use in stock….he taught me how…that doesn’t mean I did it. But I tell you what he was one of the best cooks I ever met.

    Great blog I’m marking it to read every chance I get. :)

  13. I was just at a friends farm, we killed and defeathered 6 big roosters – he was going to throw the feet away and I told him I wanted to try them in my broth – I don’t remember that Mom ever did that but I know it’s supposed to give you that really healthy gelatin so I’m going to do it. Thanks for the info on cleaning them – very helpful

  14. Thanks for the foot cleaning instructions!

    I started with chickens this Spring- got 24 straight run silver grey dorkings, so a lot of extra roosters came with my chicks.

    Slaughtered the culls today (6 smaller or imperfect cockerels, about 5-6 lb. in weight). I don’t want to waste anything, so the feet, necks, hearts and (cleaned) gizzards are simmering in a stock pot right now along with onion trimmings, home grown thyme, sage, rosemary and a couple of carrots.

    On Christmas, several of my chickens will be coming to dinner-

  15. Well, glad to come accross this post – I assisted some homesteading friends in butchering some roosters last weekend (it was a GREAT time! Must simpler than I thought, esp utilizing the killing cones). Well, they were going to discard the feet so I asked for them (having read wellness mama’s recipe for chicken stock & Carla Emery’s Country living book on homemade jelly – I was intrigued). Well, the feet are kinda gross but I was willing to try anyway – so glad to come accross this post!!

  16. I wished I come across this info a couple of weeks ago. We just butchered 4 large roosters & canned the meat, made stock & put the legs in a trap, but did not know anything about using the feet. Still have 6 chickens left to can & this time am going to use the feet in the broth. That should be a hoot when the yuppie city grandkids see it!

  17. Thank you for finally talking about chicken feet!!! Wish I saw this post 2 summers ago! We processed for the first time, and on advice from some old-timer friends of ours, we did keep and process the feet…
    It went much better this past summer. My hubby cleaned and peeled them for me, and we cooked them at a gentle simmer for about 2 hours in lightly salted water. The resulting jellied broth, we pressure canned. Now I add a pint to each batch of chicken soup. It contains an amazing amount of mineral supplements and has a really nice rich, chicken-y flavor. Don’t be afraid of the feet! They really rock! Thanks again, best wishes, ~Amanda

  18. I’ve never added the feet to stock yet, for the same reason – I know where they’ve been! Though I’ve felt guilty about wasting them, I haven’t wanted to clean them. And we just skin the chickens, rather than plucking, so I don’t have hot water ready to go anyway. I certainly didn’t know about the peeling part. Thanks for the info. Maybe this year I’ll finally do it!

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