Plucking

Plucking poultry or game requires a considerable amount of time and patience, and is rarely necessary these days when most poultry is sold oven-ready.

If you have to pluck a bird, it should be done in a small room or enclosed space where there are no draughts – otherwise the feathers will fly all over the place! Have a large cardboard box near you to put the feathers in, and also cover the floor with newspaper to catch any small pieces of down and feathers.

Lay the bird on a table in front of you, feet towards you. Sharply pull the feathers in the opposite direction to the way they lie. Any hard pieces of quill can be pulled out with a pair of tweezers. To remove any small feathers, singe the bird over an open flame. Alternatively, the bird can be plunged in boiling water, which will soften the pores of the skin and make these small feathers easier to remove. However, this is not recom-mended unless the bird is to be cooked immediately after plucking.

The bird is now ready to be cut into serving pieces, or stuffed and trussed.

Plum

The plum is a stone fruit belonging to the same genus, primus and family, rosaceae, as the PEACH and the CHERRY.

There are numerous varieties of plum, which grow all over the world. Most of those grown in Europe have common ancestors which were native to West Asia; those grown on the Pacific coast of the United States and in other warmer parts of the world most probably derive from a Japanese species.

For culinary purposes plums are classed as either dessert or cooking varieties. Cooking varieties, such as damsons, have very dry flesh with little flavour and a high acid and pectin content. These fruit make excellent jams, compotes and fillings for tarts and flans, since cooking with sugar brings out their flavour.

Dessert plums, such as greengages, are sweet, juicy and finely flavoured, and are best eaten uncooked. Many dessert plums may also be cooked, such as Victorias and those delicious purple-blue plums from Yugoslavia, called Switzers.

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