Freeze-Dried Chicken: A Tutorial

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Freeze-Dried Chicken: A Tutorial via The Survival Mom

Of all the freeze-dried meats on the market, chicken is the one I use the most. It’s such a part of my everyday cooking that I was a bit surprised to hear someone say just this week that they weren’t entirely sure how to cook with it. Well, let me tell you.

How many recipes are there in the world that call for “one chicken breast, cooked and chopped?” Usually when I see something like that, I immediately think of the overhead required to thaw the chicken, cook it, and chop it up before I can get to the rest of the recipe. When I only have 45 minutes to throw a meal together for a hungry family, that’s the last thing I want to do. Freeze dried chicken takes out those extra laborious steps. Just rehydrate it and you’re golden. Specific instructions may vary, depending on the brand you’re using, but typically rehydration involves letting one part freeze dried chicken chunks stand in 2 parts water for 5-15 minutes. After the requisite time, I use my handy kitchen strainer to pour off any excess water.

Because it’s already pre-chopped and pre-cooked, freeze dried chicken is excellent for quick casseroles, chicken salad, and chicken noodle soup. Here are 3 of my tried-and-tested recipes using this handy food.

Layered Freeze-Dried Chicken Enchiladas

This is one of my family’s most favorite meals. It’s not terribly authentic because it is more of a tortilla lasagna than anything, but it’s still tasty and doesn’t take a lot of time to make.

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup freeze dried chicken, rehydrated

1/4 cup dehydrated onions

1 1/2 cup freeze dried cheddar cheese, divided

2 cans enchilada sauce -or- 2 cup homemade enchilada sauce, divided

1 cup sour cream

green chiles – optional (My kids just pick them out, so I tend to omit them.)

tortillas (whole wheat is best – usually 10 store bought, or anywhere from 6-9 homemade ones using the tortilla recipe found here.)

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a mixing bowl, combine chicken, onions, 1 1/2 cup enchilada sauce, chiles, 1 cup cheese.

In a 13 x 9 inch pan, put down a tortilla layer, breaking them in pieces in order to cover the whole bottom.

Spread a thin layer of the chicken and cheese filling, then cover with another layer of tortillas. Alternate layers until you run out of filling, ending with tortillas.

Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the pan, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake for 25 min or until bubbly.

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Freeze-Dried Chicken Salad

Chicken salad is many things to many people, which is the primary basis of its appeal. All chicken salad has chicken and mayonnaise as the primary ingredients. It can be easily customized, according to preference and availability of ingredients, by adding:

  • chopped apples
  • chopped celery
  • parsley
  • basil
  • tarragon
  • dill
  • pecans or walnuts
  • minced hard-boiled egg
  • pineapple
  • grapes
  • mustard
  • chili powder or paprika
  • red onion or scallions
  • shredded carrots
  • olives

Here is where experimentation is truly king. If you don’t already have a favorite way to make chicken salad, I encourage you to add or subtract ingredients until you find one. If mayonnaise isn’t really your thing, you can also use sour cream or even plain yogurt instead.

Freeze-Dried Chicken Noodle Soup

Making soup with freeze-dried chicken is even easier, because you don’t even have to rehydrate the chicken ahead of time! Just make your soup as you normally would. Add 1/2 cup or so of chicken chunks into the pot once other ingredients are cooked through. Since the chicken doesn’t have to actually cook, just rehydrate and heat up, it’s okay to add the chicken toward the end of the cooking time. This is usually about when I add noodles as well.

NOTE: It’s okay to make soup without a recipe! It’s super easy with this tutorial.

Some people might think that freeze-dried chicken is one of those fluffy “luxury foods” for emergency preparedness – too outer-spacey and high tech for every day use by actual people. Not so! I like to keep a can on hand at all times. After you get used to cooking with freeze-dried chicken, you’ll start to think of fresh or frozen chicken breasts as a waste of time and motions (at least when it comes to making a quick dinner).

A quick word on taste: I used to cook with a lot of canned chicken for the same reasons I now use the freeze-dried version. The thing with canned chicken, though, is that it doesn’t have nearly the shelf-life. Also, and I think anyone who has eaten chicken out of a can will agree with me, it does have a residual taste that you don’t usually find when eating fresh chicken. If you’re worried that freeze-dried chicken will have a weird taste that can only be described as “ugh,” don’t. This very week I made a freeze-dried chicken meal for my family, and I was pleasantly surprised by how normal it tasted. You never would have guessed that this meal came from a can!

If you don’t already have freeze-dried chicken as part of your food storage, I encourage you to change your ways. You won’t be sorry!

Freeze-Dried Chicken: A Tutorial via The Survival Mom

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Beth Buck lives in Utah with her husband and three children. She has a degree in Middle Eastern Studies/ Arabic, a black belt in Karate, a spinning wheel, and a list of hobbies that is too long to list here.

12 thoughts on “Freeze-Dried Chicken: A Tutorial”

  1. Beth,
    How many people do you feed using the FD Foods for a meal/recipe? I have some # 10 (lge) single item cans in my storage right now and am looking to add to them. I have a couple of cookbooks that use the FD Meats, etc but NONE of the recipes say how many mouths it will feed when the recipe is made. Right now, I cook with fresh/frozen and tins and can tell you how many of this, how much of that I’ll need for my family. There are ten of us in the immediate family but I expect 20-30 total WTSHF situation (my hubs sibs and my niece’s family of 8) My children help out when they can to add to the stores. Any advice is MOST appreciated. I am still a fairly new comer to preparing but was raised “Depression style” of having “extra’s” on hand in case of an emergency.

  2. HI, Kathy,

    Good question. A recipe such as above will feed my family of two adults and three little kids with some leftovers. A #10 can is good for 6-8 meals.

    The best way to determine how much you need for your family is to keep close tabs on what you eat for a month, and then multiply it by twelve. Alternately, you could try one of the food storage calculators that can be found on the internet like this one: http://www.family-survival-planning.com/food-storage-calculator.html

    Keep in mind, though, that these calculators operate on the assumption of a fairly low-calorie diet. If you store only the amount of food recommended by these calculators, you can expect to stay alive but not necessarily feel full.

    Example: one calculator I know of suggests only 16 lb of peanut butter for my family for a year. We practically subsist off of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, and my kids like to sneak it from the jar with a spoon, so 16 lb would only last us a month or two.

    Hope that helps!

    1. Also, keep in mind that the calculators are only suggestions. If your family eats a lot of peanut butter, the the calculator for peanut butter doesn’t apply to your family. Some of the foods listed in those calculators, we would never eat – like lima beans? Nope. Use the calculator just for what your family likes. 🙂

  3. Do you have to use all the chicken once you open the can, or do you refrigerate leftovers, or just store the rest of the chicken in the can.

    1. It depends on the brand, so read the label, but the Thrive Life chicken I used last week, doesn’t require refrigeration once opened and an opened can will remain fresh for months.

  4. Beth,
    Have you compared freeze-dried chicken from different sources? And if so, if you can, how do they compare to each other with respect to flavor, price per weight, and shelf life?

    Enjoyed the article,
    Jose

  5. How long can you keep an open can of freeze dried chicken? Do you refridgerate after opening? My worry about purchasing a can is that we won’t finish it in time. I would love to add it to our weekly menu if I knew I could stretch a can over a month.

    1. Keep an open can of freeze dried chicken in the pantry, not the refrigerator, and it will remain fresh and edible for many weeks. One brand, Honeyville, I believe, does require some of their freeze dried meats to be refrigerated and an opened can is only good for a couple of weeks — if I recall correctly. I used Thrive Life seasoned chicken in some Thai Lettuce Wraps last week and in a chicken enchilada casserole, and no one would ever know that the chicken had not been a freshly cooked chicken.

    2. I have this worry also. Our FD chicken #10 can says use wi thin a week of opening. There’s no way we would use all that in one week. Do you know if you can rehydrate the chicken, then freeze it in a meal or on its own?

      1. Susie, you’d be better off repackaging the FD chicken you aren’t going to use anytime soon. You could put it in a canning jar with a small 50cc oxygen absorber or use a jar sealing attachment with a Food Saver to vacuum the oxygen out of the jar. Depending on the brand of chicken you buy, though, it can last for a few months stored at room temperature. As to your question about rehydrating the chicken, using it in a meal, and then freezing it, absolutely! That’s a great idea. I don’t see any reason why you couldn’t also freeze the rehydrated chicken on its own. Try it once with a smaller amount first to see if the freezing process affects the texture of the chicken.

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