December 11, 2006

The Chicken Mummy Saga Part 1

A Journal of Our Extremely Prolonged Chicken Mummy Experience

When I began writing this post (on 10/9/06), we were on our third and final week of Ancient Egypt using Tapestry of Grace Year 1.  We started the process of chicken mummification on Saturday, September 16, using a combination of the recipes at Mummy Tombs.  If you read my last post, then you know I haven't kept up well on this project at all! I will journal our chicken mummy adventure so far in this post and add another post when it is finished.

Caution: If you have a weak stomach (or you are planning on having chicken for dinner tonight), you might want to stop reading here!

Supplies:
* the cheapest, smallest whole fryer(s) (yes, our kids are each doing one) you can find (we got ours at Aldie Foods for $0.49/lb)
* 1 container of salt per chicken per week, about 5-6 containers per chicken - Wal-Mart has them for $0.33
* old or cheap sweet-smelling spices (I had some really old ground cloves, cinnamon, all spice, etc.)  Meijer is selling a large value brand container for under $1 now. Also try the Dollar Store, Wal-Mart, or K-Mart
* Gallon Zip-Loc bags, about 10-12 per chicken - we triple bagged the chickens using (2) 1-gallon freezer bags and (1) 1-gallon storage bag per chicken each week
* disposable gloves, 6 pairs per child
* tons of paper towels
* gauze strips or white cloth cut into strips

September 16, 2006 (Week 1)
We used:
* 1 small whole fryer per child
* 2 gallon Zip-Loc bags per chicken
* 1 containers of salt per chicken
* 1-2 containers of sweet-smelling spices (for 4 chickens)
* 1 pair of disposable gloves per person (including mom)
* a lot of paper towels

1.  We washed the chicken (wearing gloves) and dried it thoroughly inside and out with paper towels. This took quite a while, but it is extremely important to dry the chicken.
2.  We put about 1/4 of a container of salt into the bottom of a freezer bag (pre-labeled with the name of the chicken king or queen) and put the chicken inside the bag large cavity side up.
3.  We thoroughly covered the chicken inside and out with sweet-smelling spices (we used some old cinnamon, ground allspice, and ground cloves). One mostly-full bottle of each of the spices mixed together did 4 chickens with enough left over to do the 4 chickens again the following week.
4.  We filled the cavity of chicken with salt and poured the rest of the container of salt around the outside of the chicken.
5.  We zipped the bag closed, squeezing out as much air as possible, added another outer freezer bag to help keep the smell contained, and moved the salt around to evenly distribute it.
6.  We put the chickens on top of our refrigerator until next week.

September 24, 2006 (Week 2)

The bags were full of fluid when we pulled them down from the refrigerator. However, we could only smell the spices, so I highly recommend using them. We didn't smell the chickens at all until we took them down. We took them outside to do the salt change. Once open, the smell wasn't pleasant, but it wasn't as bad as I expected. We did this the day we take out our garbage.

This week, we used
:
* 1 pair of disposable gloves per person (including mom)
* lots of paper towels
*3 gallon-size Zip-Loc bags per chicken
* approx. 3/4 container of salt per chicken
* approx. 1-2 containers of sweet-smelling spice (for 4 chickens)

1.  We took the chicken out of the bag, leaving the fluid in the bag, re-zipping it, and throwing it in the garbage.
2.  We removed as much salt and moisture as possible from the chicken, wiping it down well with paper towels over a garbage can.
3.  We repeated steps 2-6 from Week 1, except we used a little less salt because we didn't have 4 full containers and we added an extra gallon Zip-Loc bag for each chicken.

...  ...  ...  ...   ... ...

Eleven weeks later...


Okay,  here's the embarrassing part: We were extremely busy and I didn't get back to the chickens for a long, long, long, long time. Note to self: Even if the project isn't going to exactly go with your unit, do it when you have the time!!! We decided to brave it and do the "unbagging" yesterday. Here are the results:

December 10, 2006 (Week .......... 13)

This week, we used:
* 1 pair of disposable gloves per person (including mom and dad)
* lots of paper towels
* 2 gallon Zip-Loc bags per chicken
* approx. 3/4 container of salt per chicken

1.  Kathryn bravely offered to go first. With great trepidation, I took her bag down from the fridge. Whew! No smell from the outside of the bag - good thing I triple bagged them! My wonderful, patient, supportive husband helped out this time.
2.  We opened the bags and pulled out the chicken. It smelled pretty bad, but it could have been much worse.  At first, I thought the chicken was growing mold, but on further inspection my husband said it was just salt and spice. There wasn't any visible fluid, but the chicken was still moist and not fully mummified.
3.  We painstakingly removed the salt from the cavity over a garbage can and wiped off the salt from the outside. We didn't use paper towels this time (I forgot); just our gloved hands.
4.  We repeated steps 4-6 from Week 1. We only used salt and 2 bags per chicken this time. The spices still smelled spicy, and the chickens were much drier, so I don't think the smell will be that bad.

We are planning on changing the salt again Sunday, so look for Part 2 sometime next week.