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Freeze-dried chicken is a convenience food product that is prized for its long shelf life and portability. It consists of cooked chicken that has been cut into pieces, then dried out using a special technique to remove all moisture. Freeze-dried chicken comes in cans, bags, or tubs, and can be eaten much like regular chicken, depending on the preference of the buyer and the facilities available for cooking and rehydrating the product. Generally, a small amount of dried chicken can be used as the equivalent to two or three times as much cooked chicken. For example, some brands specify that 2 ounces (57 grams) of freeze dried chicken can replace 7 ounces (198 grams) of fresh chicken.
Before chicken can be freeze dried, it must be fully cooked, then diced or chopped into small pieces. The cooked chicken is then frozen to its triple point, which is the lowest temperature where water can exist in both a liquid and a solid state. Most facilities rely on a freeze-drying machine to accomplish this step. Once it has been frozen, the chicken is heated in a pressurized chamber, which helps to melt the ice. It's then heated again to remove any remaining water that was not frozen during the initial freezing process.
After it has been freeze dried, the chicken takes on a hard, tough texture similar to jerky. While it can be eaten straight from the package, it is often rehydrated for use in cooking. Before using freeze dried chicken as a substitute for fresh chicken, the chicken must be placed in cold water and left to soak for several minutes. When added to hot water, the chicken tends to absorb water more quickly. After it has been rehydrated, freeze dried chicken can be added to soups, salads, sandwiches or pasta.
Some consumers keep packs of freeze-dried chicken at home in the pantry to serve as a substitute for fresh chicken. Others store this product in case of an emergency, when refrigeration may be unavailable due to power outages. Hikers and campers may take packs of freeze-dried chicken to ensure they will have a good source of protein out in the wilderness This product is also used in humanitarian rations and meals served in the military.
While some diners may not appreciate the taste of freeze-dried chicken, there's no question that this product offers numerous advantages. It has a long shelf life, and can last for years if properly stored. It's lightweight and portable, so it's easy to carry on trips. This product cooks very quickly, allowing diners to enjoy a protein-packed meal in minutes. Finally, it's highly versatile and suitable for a number of recipes and dishes.