How to Freeze Dry Food?

Methods to Dehydrate Food
Methods to Dehydrate Food

Freeze drying is a cutting-edge method that can help preserve food for the future while preserving perishable goods. While classic freezing is a popular method for preserving meat and vegetables, freeze-drying offers a practical substitute that doesn’t require refrigeration or preservatives.

It can also be a wonderful choice if you want to stay away from dangerous additives or are thinking about bringing food on the road. We’ll try our best to address the most frequent inquiries people have about freezing dry food in this article.

How to Freeze Dry Food

How to Freeze Dry Food?

Suppose it is pleasant to know that you and your family can support yourselves during difficult times. The global pandemic we experienced has taught us anything. In that case, it is probably a good idea to have some non-perishable food on hand in case of national closures (or climate change-related natural disasters.)

You don’t need to wait for the end of the world to enjoy freeze-dried foods; it’s one of the finest ways to store food for a long time.

Using freeze-dried fruits and vegetables in sweet and savory cooking is more feasible than you may imagine because freeze-drying maintains all the flavor and nutrients while also (obviously) eliminating all the moisture.

Food canned or dried without being frozen changes color, and nutritional value is reduced by around half. Contrarily, foods that have been freeze-dried maintain their nutritional content and can be kept in a refrigerator, cupboard, or cellar for up to 25 years. They are portable and light for simple camping dinners or an emergency food supply.

Preparing Food for Freeze-Drying

Make sure to choose the freshest selections before freeze-drying your meals. To get rid of any dirt and particles from your food, wash it. Then, chop the food into small bits or chunks to aid in the removal of moisture. However, you can freeze-dry cooked food.

Once you have prepared your food, you can begin the freeze-drying process. We’ve put together some popular ways to freeze-dry your food.

Freezing Dry Food in a Freeze-Dryer

If you can afford a freeze-dryer, it’s a great option, purposely designed for freeze-drying. These dryers have the advantage of including numerous trays for various foods. There are plenty of options, so pick a dryer that makes economic sense.

Step 1: Place your foods in the trays, careful not to overfill them.

Step 2: Close the doors after adding the trays to the dryer (Some models have two doors).

Step 3: Freeze the food at -40 to -50 degrees.

Step 4: Give the process 24 hours to finish.

Step 5: When everything is finished, put the food in mylar bags and close them.

Freezing Dry Food in a Freezer

A home freezer makes the process simpler for those who want to freeze dry food for the first time. It’s an even better choice if you have a deep freezer. However, your standard home freezer will still function.

Step 1: Place the food on a tray or plate after spreading the food out.

Step 2: The food needs to be frozen at the coldest possible temperature, so put the tray in the freezer.

Step 3: Keep the food in the freezer for 2 to 3 weeks or until it is entirely freeze-dried.

Step 4: Once the procedure is finished, place the finished product in an airtight storage bag and keep it in your pantry or freezer.

Freezing Dry Food with Dry Ice

Faster than utilizing the freezer is using dry ice. This is due to how quickly dry ice causes moisture in the meal to evaporate.

Step 1: Food should be placed in freezer-safe bags.

Step 2: Put the bags in the refrigerator.

Step 3: Place the dry ice on the bags completely, then wait for around 24 hours.

Step 4: Remove the bags once they have finished drying completely in the freezer and store them.

Freezing Dry Food with a Vacuum Chamber

To freeze-dry your food, a specific vacuum chamber is required. The chambers’ purpose is to hasten the freeze-drying procedure. Although this is the most effective approach, it is also expensive.

Step 1: Distribute the food evenly without packing it together on a tray or plate.

Step 2: In a freezer, freeze the food until it is solid.

Step 3: Set the chamber’s temperature to 10 °C and place the food inside at a pressure of about 120 m Torr.

Step 4: For optimum sublimation, let the food remain in the chamber for at least a week.

Step 5: Put the food in airtight containers for storage after preparation.

Can you Freeze Dry Food at Home?

You can freeze-dry food at home if you know how to do it. Using a freeze-dryer, freezer, dry ice, or vacuum chamber, your food can be freeze-dried. Just adhere to the directions above to freeze-dry your food for later use.

Home freeze-drying is far less expensive than employing professional services. If you’ve never frozen-dried food before, start with straightforward foods like apples, bananas, and berries. You can practice on vegetables like peppers and broccoli and move on to other foods once you’re satisfied with the results. Remember that food that has been properly frozen doesn’t change color.

How Long does it Take to Freeze Dry Food?

Depending on your technique, your food will freeze dry between 20 hours and a month. Additionally, it is based on the food you are freeze-drying. For instance, whereas watermelon and squash take longer to dry, items like corn, beef, and peas do so more quickly. The time required to freeze dry food will also depend on the thickness of the food slices. 20 to 40 hours are needed if you have a freeze-dryer.

However, household use of this freeze-drying apparatus is rather expensive. Although there are numerous possibilities under $2,000, the most efficient dryers cost between $2,000 and $5,000. The least expensive method, however, requires up to a month to thoroughly freeze-dry your food. Even while it requires a bit more effort than using a regular freezer, using dry ice is a quick alternative.

How Long does Freeze-Dried Food Last?

Freeze-dried food has kept its best quality for decades, but dehydrated food often only lasts two to three years. Freeze-dried food should remain unaltered for 25 to 30 years with careful storage and possibly even longer.

When I purchased a few “vintage” cans of freeze-dried food at an estate sale, I had the chance to put this to the test. The freeze-dried apple slices were wonderfully tasty when I opened the sealed No. 10 cans after 17 years of preservation.

I rehydrated them and prepared an apple pie that deceived my husband since they were just as tasty as the day they were stored. In his honest opinion, it would have been challenging to distinguish the freeze-dried version in a blind-tasting test if I had made it using fresh apples.

Where to Buy Freeze Dried Food?

If you’re curious and have never tasted freeze-dried food, I’d advise tasting it before attempting to make your own. At least in our neighborhood stores, freeze-dried food is typically kept close to the dehydrated fruit in the grocery section. It makes logical that commercially produced freeze-dried food has a fairly variable quality; it’s only as excellent as the food that goes into it.

Underripe or flavorless fruit can be frozen and dried to produce those results. I conducted a blind taste test with my children and discovered that Valley Food Storage makes the tastiest freeze-dried food I’ve ever eaten. They could always recognize the freeze-dried fruit from Valley Food Storage.

Quality counts whether you freeze-dry food at home or buy it already cooked and dried. The outcome is only as excellent as the food that enters the freeze-drying apparatus.

Can Freeze Dried Food Go Bad?

Many individuals mistakenly believe that freeze-dried and dehydrated goods are interchangeable. While they are both suitable for long-term storage and emergency kits, their preservation methods and “life-sustaining shelf lives” differ.

Moisture: Food moisture is removed by freeze-drying to approximately 98 percent and by dehydration to around 90 percent.

Shelf Life: The moisture content impacts shelf life, with freeze-dried items having a 25–30 year shelf life and dry goods having a 15–20 year shelf life.

Nutrition: While dehydration can easily break down those nutrients, freeze-dried food keeps most of the natural vitamins and minerals of fresh produce.

Reference: Potential of extrusion-blown poly(lactic acid)/cellulose nanocrystals nanocomposite films for improving the shelf-life of a dry food product

Conclusion

The long shelf life of freeze-dried food is one of its main advantages. All methods of food preservation have advantages and disadvantages, but freeze-drying is particularly good at producing food that keeps its nutrients over time. Whether you’re seeking preserved ingredients to add to your product or storing emergency supplies, shelf life is a factor to consider.