How to Skin. The carcass suspended from a hook by a string around the neck, the skin is cut through down the centre of the underside, from chest down to stomach (Fig. 437, C), and the entrails removed, leaving kidneys, liver and lungs.
After the ears have been cut off and the eyeballs removed it is placed flat on a board and the feet chopped off at the first leg-joint. The cut is then continued from the stomach to the root of the tail. While it is still on its back, removal of the skin is begun by pressing the left hind leg bone hard on to the board and turning back over it the skin on that side (Fig. 438). Given a sharp pull, the skin will then slip off that joint. This is repeated with the right hind leg.
The carcase is then turned over and pressed down with the left hand whilst with the right hand the skin is pulled upwards (Fig. 438). It comes away easily as far as the shoulders. The front legs are then dealt with in the same manner as the rear ones (Fig. 438) and the skin pulled completely off.
Before cooking, either whole or jointed, the carcase should be placed in salty water, a teaspoonful of salt to a pint of water. for twenty minutes.
Disposal of Skins. If a purchaser can be found for the skins the price he may offer will depend on colour, texture, condition and so on, of the fur. Pelts of the recognized fur breeds naturally fetch higher prices, and these are highest during winter, November to February skins then generally being in their best condition.
Whether skins are for. sale or for home use they should be removed as soon as possible after killing, whilst there is still warmth in the carcase. Buyers prefer them to be dried naturally; this is done by hanging the skins up where air will play upon them and dry them hard and stiff.
Skins for Home Use. It is possible to preserve rabbit skins for home use by dressing the inner side with strong alum water. The
skin is extended, without undue stretching, fur side downwards on a piece of board large enough to leave a margin of an inch or two all round, and securing it there with tacks at the outer edges (Fig. 439).
It is then scraped perfectly clean with the upright edge of a knife, carefully, so that fur is not exposed through the inner skin at any point.
When no vestige of fat or flesh remains it is dabbed all over with water containing as much alum as will dissolve in it. This dressing is repeated daily for seven or eight days. The solution should be kept from the fur.
The skin, removed from the board, is then hung up in a current of air in a warm room during rainy weather or winter until it is as hard and stiff as a board. To render it soft and pliable again it is rubbed with a piece of flat-sided pumice stone at frequent intervals.
An alternative method of preservation consists in covering the tacked-down and scraped skin with finely powdered alum and salt and saltpetre, mixed in the proportion of two parts each of alum and salt and one part of saltpetre When this mixture has absorbed its load of moisture and grease it is scraped Off, and if necessary another dressing is applied. When it is perfectly clean and hard and dry pliability is restored to the skin by vigorous rubbing between the hands.