As you research different types of food storage, you may come across a couple of unfamiliar terms. The two terms most used to describe the type of foods are Dehydrated and Freeze-Dried. But what are the differences? Let’s explore the options.
Dehydrated: Dehydrated food uses the process of dry heat to evaporate the moisture out of your food. You can purchase home dehydrators that have several trays. After slicing, dicing, or pureeing your food, you place them on the trays. The heat will waft through the trays and evaporate the water content. The finished product will be dry and crinkly. This is a very common way to preserve food. Many quick prep meals you can find in the grocery store will contain dehydrated ingredients. Trail mixes may contain fruit that has been dehydrated. Or quite possibly have used dried onions in a recipe. Dehydrated foods can be found almost anywhere.
Freeze-Dried: So how does that differ from Freeze Dried? For Freeze-Dried products, moisture is removed through a process called sublimation. The food is put in a chamber that flash freezes it. Then the chamber is heated slightly and then re-frozen again. During these reheating and freezing stages, a vacuum is sucking out the moistures in the form of gas. The water content never actually becomes a liquid. The closest example would be of dry ice. It goes from a solid to a gas with sublimation. Now this sounds very scientific, and it is! But what actually makes it different than dehydrated? Due to the fact that the food is frozen before the water is removed, the shape, color, texture, and flavor changes very little, or not at all. Imagine the banana slices found in trail mix. They are crunchy, dense, intensely flavored, and most likely brown. With a Freeze-Dried Banana slice, they will be airy when you bite into it dry. Almost like a marshmallow you would find in cereal. The flavor is not overpowering. It’s sweet and flavorful. And the color is white! Just as if you peeled the banana right before you eat it. An added bonus to the Freeze-Dried Banana? You can rehydrate it and use it in your recipes! You can make banana bread, or put them in your cereal or oatmeal, you can even throw them into your smoothies, because they will go smooth and soft, just like a fresh banana.
Since Freeze-Dried products have been through less of a process, they hold a higher nutrition level. As your food is heated during the dehydration process it slightly cooks your food, which means it loses some of its nutrition. Just as frozen fruits and vegetables are healthier than their canned counterparts, so does Freeze-Dried hold more nutrition than the dehydrated foods.
You may be wondering how the storage will compare to traditionally dehydrated products, and the answer is much longer! While dehydrated products have less than 5% moisture levels, Freeze-Dried have less than 2% moisture levels. With less moisture, and the proper packaging and storage, your Freeze-Dried food storage will last for 25+ years for taste, texture, flavor, AND nutrition! With such great benefits from Freeze-Drying, it’s easy to see why so many preppers have it in their long term food storage.
You can purchase Freeze-Dried ingredients and even meals. But it’s also great to know there’s an option to do it at home now. With a home Freeze-Dryer, you can preserve everything from your fruits and vegetables to your leftover lasagna for long lasting truly delicious flavor. So whether you do it yourself, or purchase the food already preserved, you can have delicious and healthy Freeze-Dried options available to you and your family.