Home cooking takes a lot of time, thought, and preparation. Making a meal from scratch can occasionally take hours! Of course, the end result is usually worth the effort. But what if you could get delicious homemade meals in half the time?
If you’re a home cook who wants to spend less time making your meals and more time enjoying them, there’s a surprisingly simple solution. Imagine: What if you didn’t have to spend time cutting, marinating, and cooking your meat? What if you could just open your fridge, grab a preprepared portion, and heat it up in minutes?
With freeze-dried meat, that dream can become reality. Let’s take a look at how freeze-dried meat can make mealtime more convenient and how to use freeze-dried meat in your home cooking. Once you give freeze-dried a try, you won’t ever want to go back to fresh!
What Are Freeze-Dried Foods?
Freeze-drying, also known as lyophilization or cryodesiccation, is the process of drying food by freezing it and subliming the ice in a high-pressure vacuum. Freeze-drying is an excellent method for preserving food because it lengthens shelf life without affecting the food’s shape, texture, flavor, or nutritional value.
One important thing to note is that freeze-drying and dehydration are two different processes. The dehydration process uses heat to shrink and dry foods. The freeze-drying process, on the other hand, uses freezing temperatures to dry foods. The ice preserves the food in its original state, so there’s no shrinkage or alterations to texture, flavor, or nutrition.
When it comes to meat, the dehydration process is great for making jerky. But if you want to make steaks, soups, and other meals that incorporate soft, fresh meat, freeze-drying is the way to go.
Dry or Rehydrated?
Before you start cooking with freeze-dried meat, you need to know whether to use the meat dry or to rehydrate it first. If you’re cooking a dish that contains or incorporates moisture (such as a soup, sauce, or gravy), you don’t need to rehydrate your meat before using it. Simply toss in the meat with the rest of your ingredients. But if you’re cooking your meat separately or as part of a dry recipe, you’ll need to rehydrate it.
Fortunately, rehydrating freeze-dried meat is quick and easy. Place your meat in a bowl of warm or hot water. Cold water works fine, too, but it won’t rehydrate as quickly. Generally, you’ll want to use one cup of water for every one cup of meat. However, you may want to use a bit more water if you’re rehydrating freeze-dried chicken. This is because chicken naturally has a higher water content than other meats and can therefore absorb more moisture.
If you want to add some extra flavor to your meat, you can rehydrate it in a liquid other than water. If you’re cooking chicken noodle soup, for example, place your freeze-dried chicken in a stock with herbs and spices. Or if you’re cooking stir-fry, you can add a small amount of soy sauce to the water.
Rehydrating your meat usually only takes a few minutes. If you’re using hot water, 10 minutes is the average, while warm water rehydrates meat in 15 to 20 minutes. With cold water, the process takes roughly half an hour. To test the readiness of your meat, poke through it with a fork. If the fork slides through easily, you’re good to go.
Cooking With Freeze-Dried Meats
So how do you use freeze-dried meat in your home cooking? Apart from the rehydrating process, is it any different from cooking regular meat? One thing that separates fresh meat from freeze-dried meat is that freeze-dried meat typically comes preprepared. That means you can rehydrate it and pop it in your mouth, no cooking necessary. So if you just want a quick snack, you may not need to cook at all! That said, freeze-dried meats make wonderful additions to many dishes. Here are a few tips for using them in your home cooking:
Know Which Meats Work With Which Dishes
You can freeze-dry virtually any kind of meat. Of course, some meats are more suited to certain dishes than others. If you have freeze-dried sausage, consider tossing it into scrambled eggs or making breakfast gravy. You can also use it as a topping for pizza. Freeze-dried chicken goes great in a chicken salad. Just mix with water, mayonnaise, and freeze-dried veggies. It also tastes amazing in soups and stews.
Roast beef is perfect for beef stews and stroganoff. You can also season it and use it in sandwiches. Finally, ground beef is ideal for making chilis, pasta sauce, and tacos. Unfortunately, freeze-dried ground beef remains crumbled even after you rehydrate it, so you can’t use it to make hamburgers. You’ll need freeze-dried patties for that.
Know How Much You Need
Unlike dehydrated meat, freeze-dried meat won’t change much in size or shape once you rehydrate it. So if you’re using dried meat in a soup, a stew, or another recipe, don’t overcompensate—4 ounces means 4 ounces!
Season, Season, Season
Some freeze-dried meats come preseasoned. If yours don’t, you’ll need to season them to achieve your desired flavor. Rehydrating your meat in a sauce or marinade is a fantastic way to imbue flavor. You can also glaze it or cover it in flavorful herbs and spices.
Remember, most freeze-dried meats are already cooked. If you’re making a hamburger using a freeze-dried patty, you won’t have to cook it for as long as you would if it were made from fresh ground beef. You’re essentially just heating the meat to the desired temperature. If you’re cooking in the oven, 10 to 15 minutes at 250 degrees Fahrenheit is sufficient to heat most meats. In the pan, most meats take 5 minutes to warm at low heat.
If you’re looking to buy freeze-dried meat in bulk for your emergency food store or to cook with at home, come and shop with NuManna! Our buckets of freeze-dried diced chicken and seasoned hamburger meat provide all the delicious, nutritious meat you and your family need.