So, what kind of chicken is a capon? Nothing is as fascinating as watching your chickens play in the backyard or perching inside the coop. More intriguing is the sight of different sizes of male chickens, not to mention their vibrant plumage.
This is where I develop an interest in differentiating these birds. In the process, I come across a few capons wandering from place to place. And then my curiosity motivates me to know more about these unique birds.
A capon is a male chicken without testes. Such a bird is either castrated at a tender age or gelded. Afterward, a capon will eat a rich diet of porridge and milk to grow faster and larger.
Capons are larger than ordinary chickens, but a little bit smaller than turkeys. However, they are more tasty and flavorful compared to other birds. This is because they are full-breasted with tender, delicious, juicy meat that’s well-suited for roasting.
Also, they tend to be docile and less gamey compared to other normal roosters. Most importantly, they have higher fat content than most chickens, including broilers.
Since they are larger, capons are a great choice to feed your family on special occasions. Compared to other chicken meat, capon meat is soft and tasty. It is also fatty with a larger percentage of white meat.
Lack of sex hormones is responsible for differences in the texture and taste between rooster meat and capon meat. The absence of hormones also leads to the formation of more fat on muscles making them buttery and tender.
Given that capons undergo castration before reaching their sexual maturity, they are less aggressive, unlike roosters. This should tell you that these birds are peaceful and rarely challenge other birds in fights.
Unlike roosters, which are usually separated from the other birds, capons are penned together without any concern. Also, they are less energetic than other chickens, a factor contributing to their meat becoming tender.
A Brief History of Capons
The term “capon” originates from the word “capo,” a Latin name meaning “cut.” Humans have been keeping poultry and eating their meat since the dawn of history. This trend dates back to 4,000 BC in Asia, where chickens are believed to have been domesticated first.
When it comes to capons’ history, every fact points to the Roman Empire. Romans were the first people to castrate juvenile chickens to fatten them. Castrating young male chickens to make them fat was a widespread practice that led to fattening hens as well.
This practice became common for some time until the passing of the law to discourage it. The law was passed mainly to forbid fattening of hens because it was considered a waste of grain. Therefore, only young male chickens were the ones to be flattened by castrating them.
Throughout the Middle Ages, castrated roosters were popular among the nobles, kings, and the clergy. Their popularity spread far and wide, covering the rest of Europe. In Europe, capons were always stuffed, stewed, roasted, or baked into delicious pies.
This tradition was handed from one generation to another until the present time. For example, in Italy and France, capons are served mainly during the Christmas celebration.
How to Caponize Your Chickens
- The first thing you need to do to start caponizing your birds is acquiring the right caponizing kit. Or you may use a pair of tweezers and hemostats if you cannot afford the equipment. In the past, this process involved the use of a straw and horsehair to remove the testicles.
- Other methods involved making a V-shaped cut on the fingernail and then use it to pull out the testes. Although these methods were popular back, then you must not use them because they can harm your birds.
- A day before you caponize your chicken, you should withhold water and food to make the process easier. Starving your bird for 24 hours will make the swelling down there visible and easy to handle.
- Besides, you will need to restrain your bird just in case it puts up a fight when caponizing it. You can control it by using a bow method or merely tying the string on the wing and legs.
- Once you have secured your bird, look for the posterior rib or the last two ribs. Then make an incision between the two ribs, taking care not to injure the bird. Spread the ribs to view the first testicle.
- Locate the second testicle and remove it first before coming to the first one. This is to minimize cases of bleeding. Most significantly, take care not to damage the artery located along the spine.
How to Raise Your Capons
Before you can start raising capons, you need to find the proper way of castrating them. This process is referred to as caponization and is done in many different ways.
The most common way of performing caponization is by removing the testes surgically. Quite a number of factory poultry producers use estrogen implants to make young chickens sterile instead of removing their testes.
Capons with the label reading, “all-natural” are usually caponized by surgical means. Given that these birds have no sex hormones left in them, they can grow larger and become docile. This is the main reason you may raise several coupons in the same coop without worrying about their aggression.
These docile birds can stay together in harmony without fighting for dominance. As such, you will find it easier to raise them rather than other chickens. A typical capon can grow to a size of between 6 and 12 pounds, which is ideal for slaughter or sale.
How to Cook Your Capon
Due to their sizes, capons provide plenty of tasty meat to serve a large number of people. Cooking a capon is more or less the same as cooking other types of chickens. In this regard, you can prepare your capon by roasting it in the same way you would do with any other chicken. The only difference here comes in the time you will take to roast a capon.
Roasting your capon will likely take more time than roasting other chickens. This is because capons are larger; hence they need more time to get roasted well.
As a general rule, you must roast your capon for about 17 minutes every round. So, a 10 lb capon will take a roasting time of fewer than three hours.
How do you tell that the chicken you are roasting is ready to eat? The best way to find out if your capon is ready to eat is by inserting a meat thermometer into its thigh. For a well-roasted bird, the thermometer will read 165 degrees.
On the other hand, you can tell if the meat is ready by observing the juice coming out of it. The juice should be clear to tell you that the meat is ready.
There’s a great recipe and video from Cooking with Shotgun Red and he walks you through how to cook a Capon Chicken from scratch. He really makes this simple to follow and the chicken looks delicious.
You really need to give this recipe a try.
How Does Capon Meat Taste like?
Compared to other chicken meat or turkey, capon meat is tastier and more flavorful. In addition to that, the meat is juicy without any gamey taste. This is because capons are full-breasted and have high-fat content meat. That explains why their meat comes out white and moist when you cook it.
How Do You Store Capon Meat?
If you do not intend to cook your capon meat immediately, you may store it in your fridge for future use. Make sure that the meat stays in the refrigerator for about two to three days before cooking it.
To prevent the liquid (from the meat) from escaping into the refrigerator, put the packaged meat in a plastic bag. But if you are planning to store the package longer, place it in a freezer for up to four months.
What are the Nutritional Benefits of Capon Meat?
Capon meat is a rich source of essential nutrients and minerals. For instance, a 4-ounce piece of roasted capon meat, including the skin, has more than 250 calories and 13 grams of fat.
This size of meat contains 97 milligrams of cholesterol, which is 32% of the recommended amount. In general, a capon has almost 32.7 grams of proteins as well as other essential nutrients.
Which chicken breed can you use as a capon? Any breed of chickens can become a capon. But the traditional breeds used as capons are Rocks, Orpingtons, and a few dual-purpose breeds.
At what age should you caponize your chickens? The most preferred age to caponize your birds is from six weeks to three months. This will depend on the breed of chicken you want to caponize. Some mature earlier, while others take time to grow.
Sometimes you may decide to caponize your birds to make them grow bigger and have tasty meat. This process involves the removal of testes from male chickens aged between six weeks and three months. With the absence of testicles, your chickens cannot produce certain hormones, causing them to become docile and larger than other chickens. As a result, their meat becomes tender and flavorful, much to your delight.
Below is a Pinterest friendly photo…. so you can pin it to your Chicken Board!!