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Air Chilled vs. Water Cooled Birds

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Air Chilled Chicken

Air Chilled vs. Water Cooled Chicken

It seems like everyone is looking for healthier and better ways to process and prepare foods. Now there is a new type of chicken processing that is gaining in popularity due to the superior and healthier results it yields. As part of processing chicken, the birds have to be cooled to a certain temperature to ensure food safety, and this can be done in one of two ways now: immersion in cold water or by the latest innovation; air-chilling.

The most popular method has always been to water-chill birds, but recently a new air-chilled method has been adopted by more progressive and particular processors. In the traditional water chilled method, the birds are soaked in cold, chlorinated water. In the newer “air-chilled” method, each bird is individually is quickly hung up on rotating racks and chilled over the course of about three hours moving through refrigerated rooms.

The birds are moved into carefully monitored temperature-controlled chambers where cold air is misted on them. Moving over a mile or more on tracks in these special chambers as they cool down, the process provide distinct advantages over the old water cooled method.

Chicken is always sold by the weight. When water chilling, the chicken soaks up an average of 2% to 12% water. Which means you are partly paying for water. With “air chilled” chicken it does not retain any water. So you only pay for your meat. Best of all your chicken isn’t soaking in a large pool of water with tons of other chickens and their bacteria. Although “air-chilled” chicken is a longer process than water chilling, the outcome is more hygienic, keeping the meat juicy and tender, and the natural flavor of the bird locked inside. Additionally, because the birds have not been processed with water, they cook more quickly.