Is Freeze Dried Food Good for You?
With advancements in science and technology, more people are wondering, is freeze dried food good for you? Instead of simply preserving your food with a dehydrator, some households are transitioning to freeze drying.
As something that was seen as a fun way to enjoy your favorite snacks, much like astronauts do, freeze-drying food is a great survival technique. It’s also important to think about nutrients, as you’ll want the healthiest items in your collection of emergency meals.
What Is Freeze Drying?
Freeze-drying food is a method that is much more difficult than dehydrating, for it requires special equipment. Unless you have space, funds, and experience to work with heavy-duty machines, most households simply order freeze-dried food from manufacturers.
The process is commonly referred to as lyophilization, and it revolves around quickly freezing foods and then placing the ingredients in a vacuum. It essentially dehydrates the foods in the blink of an eye.
You’ll typically find freeze-dried food in the hands of astronauts. However, they are also essential for the military, backpackers, and campers. This is because once freeze-dried, foods can last an incredible length of time when compared to fresh foods.
In fact, you’ve likely had freeze-dried fruit before, especially if you enjoy cereals with little bits of fruit in them. Plenty of gift shops also sell freeze-dried treats, such as ice cream.
Reasons Freeze Dried Foods are Good for You
- Offers preserved nutrients, making it a healthier option
- Tastes good and is naturally bursting with flavor you will love
- Has a much longer food storage life when compared to fresh options
Reasons Freeze Dried Foods aren’t Good for You
- Tends to have a much higher sugar content
- More expensive option
- May not have the proven long-term reliability you are looking for when prepping your food kit for emergencies
The Benefits of Freeze-Drying Foods
The first step to being able to answer whether is freeze dried food healthy or not is to consider their benefits. From being convenient to containing a lot of nutrients, it could be a better alternative to dehydrating fruits and vegetables.
Similar to dehydrating fruits, when you freeze-dry food, you’re going to be sealing in as many nutrients as possible. This is because the food will go from fresh to frozen in a matter of seconds, sealing all of the vitamins and minerals inside.
In fact, you’ll find that freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are substantially healthier than canned. Another factor that affects the nutrients in food is heat. When freeze-drying, little to no heat is used, whereas, with canning and regular dehydrating, more heat is required.
One of the reasons as to why homeowners opt for freeze-dried instead of dehydrated is taste. Not only will you feel more satiated after eating something that tastes fantastic, but you’ll also be more tempted to eat regularly.
Dehydrated food can be delicious, but it does not taste like its fresh counterparts. Freeze-dried ingredients, on the other hand, taste incredibly similar to the real thing, which can make you feel like you’re eating fresh fruit.
Longer Food Storage
During the freezing process, manufacturers will use nitrogen and vacuum to remove water from the ingredients. This method is far faster and more efficient at removing water than dehydrating.
As moisture is one of the main reasons for spoilage, you’ll be glad to know that freeze-dried food rations will last substantially longer than dehydrated food. Most dehydrated items can last up to 25 years, compared to 10 years with dehydration.
It’s known that freeze-dried food has a higher amount of sugar, which begs the question, is freeze dried food healthy? However, this can help your body to get more energy when it’s needed.
Though it’s not recommended to base your diet around sugar, it can be a fantastic pick-me-up in an emergency. You’ll also have more energy because of the higher vitamin and mineral content of the food.
The Disadvantages of Freeze-Drying Foods
It is important to remember that although there are benefits to freeze-drying food, there are disadvantages as well. Most of the negative elements are very important to consider.
Higher Sugar Content
The main downfall of freeze-dried food is that it is packed with sugar. During the freezing process, the water of the ingredients is removed quickly. This leaves the overall structure of the food intact, including its sugars.
The process happens so quickly that the sugar doesn’t have time to be removed. This is also why most freeze-dried ingredients taste incredibly similar to their fresh versions.
When it comes to freeze-drying, you’re either going to need to invest thousands of dollars on the right equipment or buy the products from a manufacturer. As this is not a process that you can do at home, it’s going to be more expensive than dehydrating and canning.
You’re going to need to set a large chunk of your budget aside for this type of preserved food. With that said, it’s also easier, as you don’t have to do any of the work yourself.
The third and final concern to consider with freeze-dried food is that it’s not reliable over the long-term. What does this mean?
In the event of a disaster, you won’t be able to place an online order for your food. You certainly won’t be able to get your hands on the equipment needed to vacuum moisture out of your food. After you have gone through your current rations, you’ll have to consider canning and pickling.
Freeze Dried Food Tips
If you are feeling ambitious and want to dry freeze drying your own foods at home, here are a few tips to help you accomplish just that.
Don’t Mix Flavors
Yes, you can mix and match flavors when freeze drying food, but you want to make sure you avoid mixing dissimilar flavors. Keep your sweeter foods apart from your savory foods. While the flavor difference may be subtle, it still going to be noticeable if you put the wrong items together.
Don’t Freeze Dry High Sugar Foods
If you have something that is already high in sugar like fruit, it isn’t always going to freeze dry well. The sugar binds with the water molecules in the fruit, which keeps the moisture from escaping fully. Many plain fruit options will work well, and sweeter fruits like pineapple and peaches will most likely require a longer drying cycle.
Don’t Forget to Use a Liner
When trying to freeze dry foods yourself, don’t forget to use a liner. If you don’t, you will have a hard to remove, sticky mess to clean up. You can use sheets of reusable parchment paper. Stay clear of paper and plastic wrap because these can be too flimsy and won’t work nearly as well.
Freeze-dried food contains more vitamins and minerals than dehydrated and canned food. However, it also has much higher levels of sugar to take into consideration.
With the ability to give you a higher amount of energy, it’s a process that more homeowners are turning to for their emergency food stashes. It costs more than dehydrating, but it also takes a lot of the work out of preserving food.
Can freeze dried and dehydrated food nutrition be recommended for children?
You may have heard some kids refer to freeze dried food as space food, which means they are familiar with the concept. This kind of food for snacking is also ideal and parent-approved because there are no added sugars or preservatives; It is simply the fruit. Most of the nutrients are also retained, even though approximately 98% of the moisture content is removed.
What is the sugar content of freeze dried foods versus dehydrated foods?
When it comes to dehydrated food, the heat that is used to help evaporate the moisture also cooks out a lot of the nutrients. This leaves dehydrated food with only about 50% of its nutrients. Many dehydrated foods also contain preservatives, for this reason, you might find additional salt, sugar, and other additives.
Freeze dried food, on the other hand, is preserved without the use of heat, which allows it to retain 98% of its original nutrients. There is no added sugar or other preservatives. It is just the sugar content found in the ingredient.
However, keep in mind, the sugar does not have time to escape during the freeze drying process. This means you may be left with more sugar content than what may be found in some dehydrated fruits.
What is the shelf life of freeze dried foods?
The average shelf life of freeze dried foods is between 25 and 30 years, which makes them ideal additions to any emergency food supply or stockpile. Freeze dried foods last longer than many dehydrated foods as well. Some dehydrated products may only last for 20 years.
How long will freeze dried food last once it is opened?
Once you open your freeze dried food package, it is exposed to oxygen and humidity found in the air. If it is properly repackaged and exposure is limited, it can still last a good 6 to 12 months.
How do you prepare freeze dried food?
When preparing your freeze dried food, you will not need to have additional seasonings on hand. They don’t usually require any additional cooking either to make a meal. Some require the addition of some boiling water and a ten-minute wait before consuming them. The water is used to rehydrate the food, so it is ready to eat.
Can you purchase freeze dried dog food?
Yes. Freeze dried dog food can be purchased and stored. Freeze dried dog food is also a good alternative to other food because it is minimally processed, costs less, doesn’t require refrigeration, and is a more convenient way to store and travel with when needed. All you have to do is rehydrate it with water and then feed it to your dog.
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