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One thing that is hard to store in food storage, is meat. We can “can” all day long or pack our freezers until we’re blue in the face, but still that meat will only stay good for so long and only in a specific status. Freeze dried rotisserie chicken, however, tends to be a different kind of a “status.”
Here’s what I mean. When you have canned chicken, it’s going to be saved in the liquid for an indeterminate amount of time and that doesn’t make for tasty fajitas or casseroles. Plus, the lifetime of meat in a jar or a can isn’t as long as it could be.
What about frozen meat? Sure, it stays good between 5 and 6 years (we push it even further, but I don’t recommend it). But what happens when your electricity goes out like it has recently in California for mandatory power outages? Your freezers can’t stay on forever. Not to mention, you can’t pack your freezer with you when you go camping or hiking. What if you’re going to move? Let me tell you, we’ve moved two elks worth of meat from Las Vegas back home to north Idaho and that was stressful.
If you have the capabilities, the best way to store your meat for the future, for camp outs, for hiking, etc is to freeze dry the meat. What a weird possibility, right?
We do more than just chicken when we freeze dry meat. We do ground burger, steaks, roast, pork chops, eggs (we count these as meat!) and more!
Check out this post on why we do cooked meat more than raw.
Our favorite meat is the rotisserie chicken from Costco.
The taste of these chickens is always amazing. They season these birds and they’re overflowing with flavor. My favorite part is that they’re less than $5 a bird. Every time I go, I grab three or more more than what I need for a couple dinners that week.
This is what these chickens look like. Their skin is tasty, but I don’t recommend freeze drying it. There is a lot of fat in the skin. Freeze drying straight fat is difficult to accomplish, if not impossible because of the structure and components of the fat and what is needed to accomplish the freeze drying.
I wear gloves when I work with meat, even at home. This is a personal choice, you don’t have to do the same.
I take the bone off the meat from each chicken, starting with the breast and removing as much as I can from every facet that I can reach. The kids fight over who gets to finish off the chicken meat that I don’t take. I usually leave a little bit here and there for them to find. They like to tease me and say “Look, Mom! I found another piece.” It’s pretty fun.
The size of the meat chunks usually isn’t too big, but as you can see it isn’t small either. I tear off the chunks and make sure they’re manageable in size. You can see the sizes in the pictures here. I also make sure I have adequate space between them but not too much because I only need space for air and vapor. I don’t need to get anything else in there.
Freeze Dried Rotisserie Chicken settings
Rotisserie chicken in the medium machine I got from Harvest Right, four trays and three chickens from Costco (which I’ve found to be a little bit bigger than the birds at most grocery stores including Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club) take 24 hours from start to finish. I don’t pre-freeze these.
Sometimes, when I’m pushing to get four chickens in, it can take 26 hours, but that’s not too much when I usually need a little bit longer because of sleeping or something else. I start these loads about five PM – around dinner time because that’s when I get back from errands.
I select non-liquid and no pre-frozen when I’m choosing the settings for the load.
The rotisserie chicken is light and has the feeling of holding a piece of Styrofoam. You can eat them right out of the Mylar bags or you can reconstitute them slowly to hold onto the tenderness of the meat with water or whatever liquids you are cooking with.
One of my favorite ways to use freeze dried rotisserie chicken is to make chicken noodle soup, but I also like chicken fajitas. Straight out of the Mylar bag, though, like jerky, is one of our favorites because it’s easy to carry with us and it’s fun to feel it reconstitute in our mouths.
If you look in the background of the pictures, you can see the dried look to the chicken versus how they looked glossy and full in the previous pictures.
The size of the chicken pieces doesn’t change.
As you can see, I’m able to rub pieces of chicken between my fingers and it turns it into a powder. If this reconstituted like it is, then it would be a fine meat powder.
When I pull the freeze dried rotisserie chicken from the dryer, they’re warm. The pans are almost too hot to touch which is fine. I package the freeze dried rotisserie chicken meat rather quickly, toss in the oxygen absorbers, and then seal them and label them as fast as I can. The first ones are still pretty warm when they seal up and the Mylar bags shrink pretty tight around them. The later bags – especially when there are 8 bags to seal are fairly cool and don’t necessarily shrink after they’re sealed.
That isn’t the job of the oxygen absorbers. All their job is is to take the oxygen out of the air inside the bag. They leave the nitrogen. This sometimes translates to a shrink wrapped appearance to the bags. Sometimes it doesn’t.