Air Chilled Chicken vs Chemical Water Baths - what you should know - Heartstone Farm

Air Chilled Chicken vs Chemical Water Baths - what you should know

By Lynne Viera

We source our chicken from Common Wealth Poultry, a small family-owned artisan processor in Gardiner, Maine. They process their chickens right in Maine and air chill them which, as you're about to learn, is a huge differentiator from factory-farmed chicken.

Common Wealth Poultry has done a great job explaining the benefits of air chilling (and the ugly truth of chemical water baths) and they've been kind enough to let us reprint this article for you.



Common Wealth Poultry believes in providing the freshest meat possible at all times. That's why we deliver an all natural, humanely raised, processed in Maine and air chilled. But what does air chilled really mean? 


Our superior butchering process includes air chilling, a cutting edge method to cool the meat to safe temperatures and preserve freshness. Other companies cool their chicken in chemical-laden water baths, meaning your chicken absorbs both. At Common Wealth Poultry we believe your family deserves better than that. Our poultry is butchered right here in Maine on the same day it is received through our doors. After carefully and precisely following all USDA regulations during the butchering process, we pass our product through several environmentally controlled cooling chambers where purified cold air circulates the product. The result is a healthier, safer, and flavorful chicken. 


Typical processing facilities choose to cool their meat products by immersing them in a chemical laden bath of ice water. This process results in a product that has absorbed chemicals, added water weight, and less flavor. In addition, any bacterial microbes found on one product is now shared with an entire batch of product creating greater health risks to the consumer. Water pockets can form, impacting the accuracy of product size thus leading a consumer to pay for more than what they're getting in return. Water bathed product is then deep frozen, lessening the freshness delivered to the end consumer.

We at Common Wealth Poultry believe your family deserves better than that. 

Air chilling allows for a healthier and safer product by eliminating the risk of shared bacteria. When a product is air chilled, there is no added water weight so you are always getting exactly what you paid for. No added chemicals or water are used during the air chilling process, therefor a full and robust flavor is found when our product is served.

Have you ever tried to fry or roast a piece of chicken after it has spent hours submerged, absorbing water and whatever else they use to kill bacteria and artificially inflate the weight? Spoiler alert: it doesn't result in the crispy chicken of your dreams unless you basically overcook it.

Long ago we realized the benefit of using air to cool birds. Thanks to the time they spend in the chiller, our birds slowly lose water, rather than absorbing excess. Less water means quicker browning — every cook's best friend. There are some additional benefits to air chilling:

  • Since the birds haven't already absorbed a ton of water, they take seasoning and marinade much better
  • Since the surface isn't as wet as water processed, breading adheres more completely, and stays on while sautéing and frying


Shop air chilled chicken at Heartstone Farm.

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