June 14, 2010
By Angie Sullivan
What does new age technology have to do with ice? Freeze-dried foods are the latest development in dehydration, and the result is more than just “cool”!
Last week, our journey was spent learning about dehydrated foods. These are foods that are dehydrated in the standard way, through heat. This week, we are discussing a wonderful process for drying food that uses just the opposite method. Sound crazy? It’s a wonderful technology where food that is fresh or cooked is first flash frozen. Moisture is then removed in a vacuum chamber where a low level of heat is used to evaporate the ice crystals without returning it to a liquid form. Because the food remains frozen during this process, the food’s cell structures do not change. Therefore, much of the nutrition (including the vitamins), color, aroma, and freshness are retained.
What are some of the advantages of freeze dried food? First of all, after rehydration, freeze dried foods look and taste much like the frozen foods you find in the grocery store. Freeze dried foods retain much of their original shape, texture, and appearance. Freeze dried foods rehydrate quickly, and most are reconstituted simply by adding warm water, waiting a few minutes, and draining the excess water out. After that, you simply use them just as you would any fresh food! Freeze dried foods are lightweight, which results in food that weights 75-90% less than the original food, which is what makes freeze dried foods a very smart choice for many emergency kit applications, camping and backpacking supplies when you need to store several days worth of food in a very small pack.
As if all the reasons listed above weren’t enough, freeze dried foods offer a whole new dimension of variety to your standard dehydrated foods. With the help of freeze-dried meats, cheese, fruits, and vegetables, you can use your dehydrated basics to create family favorites like pizza, tacos, breakfast casseroles, desserts and so much more!
How good can freeze dried foods be? I know that is what you are thinking, because the skeptic in me thought the exact same thing! I can tell you from personal experience how wonderful the products I’ve tried are. As a matter of fact, just this week I used freeze dried sausage crumbles to make omelets for my family. I simply added some warm water to the crumbles, and after a few minutes drained off the excess. I was shocked by what I found! They looked, smelled, and most importantly tasted, exactly like crumbled, cooked sausage…because that’s what they are! My children LOVED them! I can’t wait to try more freeze dried meats for my food storage pantry!
One other benefit of freeze dried foods is that you can purchase not just single foods, but entire meals already freeze dried. They are cooked and then flash frozen and dehydrated so you just add warm water and you’ve got a tasty meal read to go! These meals are popular with backpackers and campers, but are an excellent choice for preparedness too.
Now is the time to try out some freeze-dried foods! You will be pleasantly surprised by what technology delivers in this new version of the Ice Age!