Dehydrated foods are essential to have handy in your backpack, whether you’re a serious prepper or you enjoy spending time outdoors.
They’re basically foods that have had their moisture removed so that they can’t grow bacteria, which helps them to last longer. And, since they’re small in size, you can carry and transport them in your backpack without a problem.
What foods can you dehydrate? You can dehydrate a variety of foods, such as meat, vegetables, and fruit.
If you’re not a fan of beef or turkey, you’ll be pleased to know you can dehydrate chicken without a hassle. With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about dehydrating chicken at home.
How Does Dehydrating Food Work?
The practice of dehydrating foods is one of the oldest ways of preserving food, as it can be traced back to 12,000 B.C.
During the dehydration process, heat is added to the food via hot air. This serves to draw moisture out of the food. There’s a simultaneous transfer of heat and mass within the food as well as the medium used to transfer energy to the food.
As a result of the low level of heat and the constant flow of air running over the food, moisture gets effectively removed. This dries out the food, and prevents mold and bacteria from growing on the food so that it can have a longer lifespan.
While traditionally foods were dehydrated in a variety of ways, such as by using the heat of the sun, you can dehydrate foods in a dehydrator or in your oven.
How To Dehydrate Chicken
If you’re eager to get started with dehydrating chicken, here are the steps to follow.
- The first step is to cook your raw chicken until its internal temperature is 165 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Cut the chicken into quarter-inch thick cubes or strips as this will make it dehydrate faster. You should also remove fat from the chicken.
- You can marinate the chicken or season it for extra flavor, then put it in the fridge for two hours.
- Remove the chicken from the fridge and place it on paper towels to absorb moisture. You should also pat the chicken with paper towels.
- Once the chicken is dry, put it in a flat baking pan. Ensure that the chicken pieces don’t touch each other.
- Use a dehydrator or oven to dehydrate the chicken. In a dehydrator, the chicken will need to reach an internal temperature of 140 degrees Fahrenheit. In an oven, use a heat of 275 degrees Fahrenheit and cook the chicken until it reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees Fahrenheit.
- It’s important to leave the oven door a few inches open and set a fan in front of the oven door. This will help dry air to better circulate. If you’re dehydrating chicken in the oven, you will also need to turn the pieces around every now and then.
- Once the chicken has been dehydrated, which can take around five hours, you should leave it to cool down. You’ll know it’s been dehydrated if it’s dry but not brittle or flaky.
- Once it’s cooled, put it in an airtight container.
- When you’re ready to consume the chicken, pour warm water or broth over it to rehydrate it.
Extra Tips For Dehydrating Chicken
- If you’re dehydrating chicken from a can, first drain the liquid from the can. If there’s any fat present on the chicken, you should rinse the chicken under hot water to remove it. Then, pull the chicken apart so that you cut smaller pieces of it. Place these on your dehydrator tray and dry the chicken at 145 degrees for about eight hours.
- When storing dehydrated chicken, you can put it in canning jars but make sure you have a vacuum sealer for them. This will remove any oxygen inside the jars.
- Another storage option is vacuum packing the dehydrated chicken. Mylar bags are a good option. These bags are made from layers of laminated food-grade plastic and aluminum so they provide a barrier to moisture, oxygen, and light to prevent food degradation.
For how long can you safely eat dehydrated chicken?
You need to eat the dehydrated chicken within two weeks if you haven’t refrigerated it. If you’re putting it in the fridge or freezer, this will extend its lifespan to up to a year.
Do you have to cook the chicken before dehydrating it?
This is an important step in the chicken dehydration process because it kills bacteria. Whenever you make jerky at home, ensure that you cook meat to 160 degrees Fahrenheit and poultry to 165 degrees Fahrenheit before dehydrating it.
Should you buy a food dehydrator?
While you can use your oven to dehydrate food, a dehydrator can be convenient if you want to dehydrate lots of food on a regular basis. If you’re not going to be dehydrating foods often, using your oven should be sufficient.
If you want some tasty dehydrated chicken snacks to enjoy during your next camping or hiking trip, or you’re keen to stock up on dehydrated foods for prepping purposes, now you know how to make them yourself at home.
We’ve also provided you with tips on how to store dehydrated chicken safely so that it will taste good for up to a year, which makes it an ideal survival food.