Jul 6, 2023
Chicken and dumplings is one of our ultimate comfort food. It’s so warm, hearty, and gives us a sense of nostalgic coziness. And it’s not just us. Many people associate this soulful dish with family and home because of the warm, rich, satisfying flavor.
However, as much as we want to make and store a huge batch, it’s a challenge. The dumplings absorb moisture the longer it sits in the broth, so you’ll end up with a soggy goop pretending to be a soup. The ingredients also separate over time, making the dish look like it’s swimming in liquid. Or, the sauce will thicken because of the starch from the dumplings. Not only that, it’s highly perishable. It can only last 5 days in the fridge and only 4 weeks in the freezer.
So, here’s how to freeze dry chicken and dumplings to keep its comforting, satisfying texture.
Chicken and dumplings is easy to cook on the stovetop, crockpot, or Instant Pot. Here are some recipes that you could try, experiment with, and modify according to how you want your meal.
This recipe is so easy and convenient to make. Using a slow cooker, you can do your chores and errands the whole day, and come home with a heartwarming meal.
What makes this recipe stand out is it uses cream of chicken for a creamier, tastier base. You can also use biscuits either made from scratch or refrigerated canned ones. Just add the biscuits at the last hour of cooking so that it’s fully cooked through.
It can be intimidating to think about making chicken and dumplings from scratch. However, Jessica made sure this would be easy for you to make. For this recipe, she uses drop dumplings. You just scoop them out from the bowl and drop into the soup as it cooks.
The dumplings are made using the most essential ingredients that you’ll find in the pantry. All you need is to mix them all together, then use a cookie scooper to drop dough balls in the soup. The soup is also as simple as it can get. But there’s one secret to making a simple croup creamy: evaporated milk. It’s thicker than regular milk but not overwhelming in flavor like cream. It’s so comforting, you’d want to dive in face-first!
It’s been a long day, and you just want to rest and relax. But you and your family’s got to eat right? So, what do you do? Make this classic Southern comfort food in a Crock Pot for a wholesome weeknight dinner.
What’s good about this recipe is it’s perfect for those who don’t want to spend the day by the stove. No pre-cooking chicken, no sauteing of veggies, and mixing your own biscuit dough.
The secret here is two things. One is using cream of chicken soup and cream of celery soup. These give your soup a richer, deeper flavor. The second secret is rolling the biscuit dough in cornmeal. Not only does it add extra creaminess to the dish, but it also keeps the dough from sticking together.
One thing to note when you’re making these recipes. Make the dumplings smaller. If you want dumpling drops, give them a maximum size of 3/4 of an inch. The thicker and bigger the dumplings, the longer they need to rehydrate.
Pre-freezing is unnecessary since your machine can freeze the food for you. However, it’s good practice to pre-freeze any food that has high water content. Especially soups. One, it helps you save time and energy costs and reduce the wear and tear of your freeze dryer.
Another is that it helps prevent a mess from forming in your machine. Water boils at a lower temperature in a vacuum. By putting a solid block of food in the freeze dryer, you have a higher chance of preventing this.
You can use a different tray to pre-freeze your chicken and dumplings. Just make sure it’s the same width and height as your freeze-dryer tray. For an efficient freeze-drying process, you need a thickness of 1/2 to 3/4 of an inch.
For accurate rehydration, weigh your trays after you pre-freeze or before freeze-drying. Then place your food in freezing cold freeze-dryer trays to keep the food from melting. Only take out the frozen food when the freeze dryer’s ready. Act fast so your food doesn’t melt.
You can freeze-dry the whole dish together for convenience. However, we advise that you freeze-dry the dumplings in a separate tray for best results. This way, they don’t clump together during the process, making them easier to rehydrate.
After freeze-drying, portion the dumplings per bag so every container has its share.
Freeze-drying chicken and dumplings is also as easy as making them. In fact, may be even easier! All you have to do is put the meal on the tray, and put it in the freeze dryer.
We’ll do two versions since some are still operating on a lower software. You’ll know your software version by looking at the upper right corner of your freeze-dryer’s screen.
If you want to adjust the cycle times, click “CUSTOMIZE > ADJUST CYCLE TIMES” and set your final dry time. We recommend using the default drying temperature if this is your first time. Higher temperatures may speed up the process but can also burn your food.
After freeze-drying, weigh your trays. This way, you have a comparable before and after data. The difference will be the amount of water you’ll need to rehydrate that batch.
If you don’t pre-freeze, it’s going to take up to 65 hours. If you pre-froze your chicken and dumplings, the process could probably take 42-53 hours. This will depend on so many factors, mainly on your food’s water content and weight.
To ensure the process is done properly, use an infrared thermometer or moisture meter. Any cold spots mean 2-3 hours of extra dry time in your freeze dryer.
For an accurate measurement, use the difference in measurement between the before and after weights. If, for example, a tray in your batch weighs 350g before and 150g after. You’ll need 200mL of water to rehydrate that batch to the proper consistency.
If you prefer to eyeball it, go on the safe side. If your bag weighs 100g, use 75 mL of boiled water for starters. Mix and cover for 5 minutes, then mix again. Let it sit for 10 minutes, then taste test. If the soup is too thick, you can always add more water. It’s harder to fix a soup with too much water than a soup with a gravy consistency.
Properly stored in Mason jars or Mylar bags, it can last you 25-30 years. Use 1-2 of the 300cc oxygen absorbers before sealing to ensure the shelf-life. Keep the food in a cool, dry, dark place. Storage temperature should be lower than 72°F (22 °C). Relative humidity should also be 15% or less.
Never is a meal as comforting as a hot bowl of chicken and dumplings. Freeze dry your own so you’ll have a meal in minutes instead of hours. After a long day, or during an emergency, you deserve a delicious meal you can get in a snap.
How would you make your freeze-dried chicken and dumplings? Let us know in the comment section.
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