Why air chill?
According to many chefs and even food scientist Harold McGee, air-chilled chickens just taste better. The natural juices are not diluted, so the meat is more tender and flavorful. When you buy water-chilled chicken, you are paying for water—on average 19% of its body weight. But with air-chilled chicken, all you pay for is chicken. There is very little loss of weight from slaughter to market, and there is no purge—that red/pink watery liquid you often find in packages of chicken. Because they have not absorbed excess water, they also cook faster than a conventionally chilled chicken. And perhaps the best argument for air chilling is the crispy skin. You can achieve photo-perfect roasted chicken, with glorious crusty skin that is just not possible with a water-chilled chicken.
Good for the environment
There are also environmental benefits. Air chill processing has much lower water usage, which saves tens of thousands of gallons per day. Canadian Food Inspection AGency researchers estimate that processors could save about 4.5 billion gallons of water a year if all nine million birds processed annually in North America were air chilled. However, air chilling takes longer than immersion chilling so more energy is expended on air chilling.
Over the last few years, consumers have become more conscientious about how chickens are raised. Labels boast of free-range, organic and natural chickens. While it’s important to consider farming practices, thoughtful consumers should not stop there. The processing clearly impacts the quality of the final product as well. So as long as North Americans keep eating an average of 80 pounds of chicken per year, we might as well eat the tastier option: air-chilled chicken.
Chicken Breasts - Boneless skinless air chilled 2 per package (usually 16 to 22 breasts per case)