No one likes wasting good food, especially with the increase in prices at the grocery store. But what can you do to keep groceries from ending up in the trash? Consider making or buying freeze-dried foods like meats, veggies, dairy items, or even ice cream. These foods can be preserved for years while keeping their natural flavors and nutritional values intact. Let’s take a closer look!
Table of Contents
- What Is Freeze-Dried Food?
- What Is Freeze-Dried Food Used for?
- Is Freeze Dried Food Bad for You?
- The Benefits of Freeze-Dried Food
- The Disadvantages of Freeze-Dried Food
- Rehydrating Freeze-Dried Food
- Don’t Worry, Be Ready!
What Is Freeze-Dried Food?
“Freeze-dried” means moisture has been removed from the food via a freezing process. This process involves freezing the item, lowering the pressure, and removing the ice. Freeze-dried foods are then rehydrated for consumption with various liquids, including but not limited to water.
What Is Freeze-Dried Food Used for?
One of the essential features of freeze-drying is that the process does not cause as much damage to a product as other preservation techniques do because it doesn’t use high heat. This means you can use freeze-drying on any number of products.
Pharmaceutical companies utilize freeze-drying a great deal. Injectables like virus vaccines can be freeze-dried to increase their shelf life. The process is helpful for any medication that might require refrigeration while shipping, too.
Military service personnel benefit from freeze-drying, as well. The military uses large quantities for soldiers in the field and commissary foods in rural locations. The same is true for some humanitarian aid organizations, where fresh food for victims of disasters and refugees is hard to find.
Backpackers and those traveling to remote regions will frequently use freeze-dried food because it is so much more lightweight and lasts a very long time. Water available on the trail is all that is needed to rehydrate.
➡ Are you a current member of the military, a retiree, or a veteran? Consider packing up some freeze-dried meals for a camping trip at one of the 10 Best Military Campgrounds in Florida.
Even coffee producers use freeze-drying to keep their supplies fresh for shipment. Who wouldn’t like the assurance that their java will last on the pantry shelf?
Freeze-dried food has of course been used by astronauts as well. However, contrary to popular belief it was not invented for space travel. Rather it was invented during world war II primarily to preserve blood serums.
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Is Freeze Dried Food Bad for You?
Freeze-dried food can be much better for you than other preserved food. The process allows the nutrients in the food to remain, along with its flavor. Most products retain at least 97% of their original nutrients when rehydrated. Plus, they can maintain their original shape and color in the rehydration process, even after sitting on a shelf for up to 25 years!
Because they do not require other preservatives freeze-dried food is not bad for you and actaully a better preservation option than other techniques.
The Benefits of Freeze-Dried Food
Of all the ways to preserve food, freeze-drying keeps the food closest to its original state. Unlike dehydrating, it does not toughen or shrink it significantly.
One of the essential benefits of this method is how much the process extends the shelf life of food. Most foods that have undergone this method will last for up to 25 years. That’s six times longer than dehydrated food and twelve times longer than canned foods last. This makes it the best choice for food storage at home.
Freeze-dried foods take up less space, so it’s a perfect solution for packing entire meals in smaller spaces like RVs. Backpackers can bring several days’ worth of meals on a hike, rehydrating each one later for consumption. The military can send its soldiers into the field with packaged freeze-dried rations, and astronauts can enjoy tasty meals in outer space because of rehydration advances.
Don’t overlook that you can freeze-dry almost all types of foods, unlike other food preservation techniques. You can freeze-dry meats, eggs, ice cream, candy, and complete meals.
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The Disadvantages of Freeze-Dried Food
The high cost is the most glaring negative about freeze-drying. Machinery with a vacuum chamber, process condenser, and refrigeration system is not cheap. These systems also require a lot of electricity to operate. Freeze-drying can be five times as costly as dehydrating, and that is why many people choose to freeze-dry only foods that are seasonal, like fruits and vegetables.
Because high heat is not part of freeze-drying, microbes that can cause spoilage remain. They can stay in the food and become active if it gains access to moisture and you do not adequately package and store the product.
Rehydrating Freeze-Dried Food
When rehydrating freeze-dried food, you have more than one choice. You may want to eat some foods without rehydrating them. For example, freeze-dried candies like gummy bears are pretty tasty. Many freeze-dried fruits are great to snack on out of the package. There is no need to rehydrate them unless you want to.
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You can quickly rehydrate most other foods by adding warm water. You can hold the meats in the water for a couple of minutes until they are soft and warm, rather than letting them sit in water.
But most products can have a minimal amount of water added. Add just enough for the water to pool under them, then stir occasionally. They will taste just as they did before freeze-drying, and they should have the same nutritional value, as well.
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Here are the facts:
Freeze-dried food is healthier than other food preservation processes. It retains at least 97% of its nutritional value and has its original shape and flavor. This method does not make food tough or chewy, and it does not shrink food. It is easy to rehydrate, can last up to 25 years, and is more expensive to make.
Is Freeze Dried Food Expensive?
This method is more expensive than other forms of food preservation. It is a more extensive process that involves pretreatment, freezing, primary drying, and secondary drying. Because the cost is more, many use freeze-drying only on high-value products like seasonal fruits and vegetables.
For example, a personal freeze dryer machine will run you around $3000! A dehydrator of the same capacity would only cost around $300 or less.
Where Can You Buy Freeze Dried Food?
If you choose to buy freeze-dried food, there are many companies with various offerings. Start with Amazon. They have a freeze-dried food selection year-round but put many meals up at a discounted price during their Black Friday sales.
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Most places that have camping gear carry freeze-dried products in its sporting goods aisles. Sportsman’s Guide is another retail store that stocks Meals Ready-to-Eat (MREs) and freeze-dried foods.
Pro Tip: Freeze-dried food is a smart choice for your bug out bag. Learn more here: What Is a Bug Out Bag? And What Should Be in It?
Can You Make Your Own Freeze Dried Food?
You can freeze-dry foods at home, but it requires a sizable investment in a personal freeze dryer. These machines are easy to use at home and come in small, medium, and large sizes, measured by the amount of food they can contain. Prices range from $2,600 to $3,600.
Don’t Worry, Be Ready!
With food prices increasing rapidly, it is nice to have the option of giving your existing food supply a longer shelf life. Freeze-drying is, by far, the best way to increase that time and maintain the nutritional value of your fruits, vegetables, meats, and even desserts. Investing in freeze-dried food, whether you do it yourself or purchase it elsewhere, could be a wise investment for a tasty future.
Need to reseal your freeze-dried food to keep bugs and other critters out while camping or hiking? Duct tape is the perfect solution! Of course, it’s also useful for so much more: 15 Ways Duct Tape Will Save Your Camping Trip.
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