Crazy Hart Ranch owner Linda Hart has been raising meat chickens, Cornish game hens, heritage turkeys and laying hens for a more modest nine years. The business began as a backyard operation but became commercially certified in 2007, spurred by a phone call from Chef Michael Lander a year earlier. Hart has been rallying for small-farm interests statewide, most recently helping to re-write rules pertaining to eggs and poultry. If all goes well, she says, she’ll soon be able to sell eggs without the “for pet consumption” label currently required due to some bogus food safety concerns. Once building codes for processing facilities are created, Hart also plans to start her own small-scale poultry processing plant rather than rely on the only currently approved facility in Ocala. Pre-slaughter, between 2,000 and 3,000 birds roam freely on at least five grassy acres in Fellsmere throughout the year. Hart says she’s happy to have buyers visit the ranch and inspect the feed anytime.
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Indian River County’s small farmers are struggling to meet a growing demand for fresh produce from chefs and consumers alike.
EAT LOCAL, EAT FRESH
BY DEBORAH BORFITZ
“Because of the homogenization of the American pallet, everyone is accustomed to a turkey that has been injected with saline or whatever else the producers use. But if someone who has only tasted a mass-produced, broad-breast turkey were given both to try, he or she would notice the difference right away. A fresh turkey, produced by someone like Linda that has had nothing added to it, has what I would call a very clean taste.”
Hart’s turkeys are Heritage Breed turkeys with smaller breasts, longer legs and bigger wings, “because they actually fly,” she says. Their breeding makes them naturally moist and flavorful.
A moist turkey is what every cook hopes to achieve but often fails, ending up with dry meat. Because white meat cooks faster than dark meat, Chef Lander explains, the breast meat could dry out before the thickest part of the thigh is fully cooked. So to solve the problem of dryness, besides constant and vigilant basting during the roasting process, he suggests brining the turkey.
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A NEW TASTE FOR THANKSGIVING
BY MARY BETH VALLAR
PHOTOGRAPHY BY DENISE RITCHIE
If you wanted to know more about Narragansett Heritage Turkeys, you can read more here at this link to a Livestock Conservancy page.
SOME BASIC FACTS
Pale cream to medium brown with spotting
14 -23 lbs
Highly dependent on selection by breeder, Some select for aggressive, others docile.
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