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Different types of food (veggies, fruits, ice cream, cake) that has been freeze-dried

Is Freeze-Drying The Best Food Preservation Method?

Table of Contents

Food waste is a primary concern in the present-day society and throwing out spoiled food every few weeks literally starts to add up. There are several reasons why people prefer to store food whether it is to save money, maintain the harvest from their garden, avoiding packaged store-bought meals or for emergency readiness. It looks like everyone is attempting their hand at saving food these days. Freeze drying as a food preservation technique, it is easier than canning and dehydrating and will last 7 to 8 times longer. Having stocked or stored food is definitely a lifesaver.

What is freeze-drying?

Freeze-drying or lyophilization is an astonishing process to store food. Freeze-drying is a special form of drying that eliminates all moisture and tends to have less of an effect on a food’s flavor than normal dehydration makes. Freeze drying is a water elimination process typically done to store perishable materials, to extend shelf life.

How does it work?

Freeze-drying works by freezing the matter, then decreasing the pressure and adding heat to let the frozen water in the substance to sublimate. This is all done by a freeze dryer. So you don’t have to do much more than preparing your food and pressing buttons.

Blue Freeze-Dryer with freeze-dried food on the counter and the text: Is Freeze-Drying The Best Food Preservation Method?

There are 3 phases that have to be finished:

Freezing Phase

This process requires fast freezing, then raising the product temperature to let the crystals to grow.

Primary Drying (Sublimation) Phase

It is the removal of water content from frosted food. The pressure is reduced, and heat is added to the substance for the water to sublimate. The vacuum speeds up sublimation.

Secondary Drying (Adsorption) Phase

By raising the temperature greater than in the initial drying phase, the bonds are broken among the material and the water molecules. Freeze-dried substances maintain a porous structure. After the freeze-drying method is complete, the vacuum can be broken with a dormant gas before the matter is sealed.

Different types of food (veggies, fruits, ice cream, cake) that has been freeze-dried
Freeze-dried food

Advantages of freeze-drying

The freeze-drying method offers the flexibility to eliminate moisture content and store almost every fruit or vegetable. You will enjoy an increased value from these specific advantages. It possesses excellent quality compared with food dried by other means.

The method is automatic. All you need to do is press “Start,” and the process operates until the end. Freeze drying gives the ease, simplicity, and electrical power specifications of other main kitchen appliances.

Display of the Harvest Right Freeze-Dryer

Whole food nutrition
Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are also actual fruits and vegetables.

Closest to the fresh form
The method saves the actual color, flavor, aroma, and shape of the original fresh material, reassuring consumers that they are really getting authentic fruits and vegetables in their nutrition.  

Freeze-dried ingredients can be sliced or crushed into various sizes and shapes. Literally everything from entire fruits and vegetables down to granular powders.

Growing kinds of freeze-dried applications include meal requests like hot and cold cereals, snacks, and refreshment applications like smoothies or healthy fruit pieces added to drinks. 

Prolonged Shelf Life
Eliminating water through the freeze-drying method removes the potential for bacterial increase. The original period of shelf life for each given freeze-dried goods depends on the packaging, room temperature and the product itself.

The mass of the freeze-dried products is decreased by 70 to 90 percent, with no difference in volume. The shipping costs are therefore less because of the lighter weight. They are also amazingly portable, due to the water content being eliminated.

Store-bought dried food compared with freeze-dried food

Disadvantages of freeze-dried food

We cannot say there are no disadvantages, but only a few. A freeze dryer is an investment. So, if you won’t use it a couple of times a year, it is not the right method for you. In addition, the machine is not the smallest nor quietest and it runs for a long time to freeze-dry your goods. Therefore, it would be smart to have spare space in the garage or a room that is not right next to your bedroom (just for your own nighttime peace). As you can see, there aren’t many disadvantages, way less than other preservation methods.

At one glance: Comparison of food preservation methods

Understanding how to preserve food has been necessary throughout our history. When food is left on its own, it will soon become useless for eating. These methods let us keep food preserved and nutritious for an extended time. Some products are better to be canned than frozen or some are better frozen than canned. For example, some may choose the texture of canned green beans to the texture of frozen green beans or vice versa. This table will give you an idea of the most common food preservation methods.

  Freeze Drying Canning Freezing Dehydrating
Convenience of method Just press the START button and wait until completion It is a method where you have to go step by step, and if one move is skipped it is likely your whole bunch could be busted Simply put the food in a container and put it in the freezer Depends on which food to dehydrate
Easy usage No longer labor intensive Labor intensive Not labor intensive Labor intensive
Packaging Sealed in moisture and oxygen-proof packaging You will need a suitable canner and containers You will need a suitable container Dry insect-proof containers as tightly as possible without crumbling
Shelf Life Up to 25 years if not opened Up to 3 years Depending on food type; after taken out of the freezer only good for a few hours 1-8 years
Nutrition left after preservation Almost all nutrition stays in the food (97%) Very poor nutrition (40%) Retain more of their nutrients than canned food Can lose up to 50% of the original nutrients
Additives/ Preservatives None Yes (depending on product) None Need sugar, salt, or other preservatives to maintain the shelf life
Refrigeration required No No Yes, freezer Temperature greatly influences the speed at which food degenerates
Electricity needed after the process No No Yes No
Taste Does not change The taste changes because of cooking beforehand Changes because of water in the food (ice crystals) Look and taste different from the fresh product
Eating after preservation You can eat it right away or re-hydrate it first Can be eaten straight out of the can Needs to be defrosted first Difficult to re-hydrate. Must be done with hot water and requires far more water
Spoilage Won’t spoil because of the water removal High risk of spoilage, if steps not followed Risk of freezer burn, power outages Low risk if properly dehydrated
Containers Bags & containers are easy to find anywhere You can easily find containers You can easily find containers Dry canning jars, plastic freezer containers with tight-fitting covers or in plastic freezer containers in cool, dry, dark areas
Reuse of containers Bags should only be used once Yes Yes Yes
Food state before the process Raw or cooked Pre-cooked Raw or cooked Raw or cooked
Food options You can freeze dry just about anything you want Limited variety of foods Almost everything Almost everything
Expensiveness One-time investment for freeze dryer, bags/jars may have to be purchased more often Depends: Only containers or also canning equipment Containers and constant freezing One-time investment for a dehydrator, bags/jars may have to be purchased more often

Who can make the best use of freeze-dried food?

Countless backpackers nowadays prefer freeze-dried meals because they are lightweight meals. Most of their food containers range from 500-900 calories and weigh about 5-7 ounces. It is shelf-stable and light to carry. It provides a balanced meal compared to most hiker meal options. Freeze-dried foods can add a lot of value, comfort, and pleasure. Just because you are tired from hiking it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the flavor of your meal. Hiking demands a lot of stamina. The best freeze-dried meal options will help you regain strength and proceed with your trek. Home freeze-dried is not only more reliable than store purchased camping food but more affordable as well.

Hikers in winter with big backpacks

Disasters can come in many forms like tornadoes, forest wildfires, quakes, hurricanes, snowstorms, and epidemics. These may leave you with no access to a food source and seldom for a limited amount of time. Almost any food you can think of can be freeze-dried. Emergency preparedness is becoming more and more critical. Having an equipped emergency kit with survival and emergency meals are necessary.

The huge market for ready-to-eat food commodities among consumers has considerably grown the demand for freeze-dried goods. There has been a race in the business for all sorts of preserved food because of the increasingly hectic lifestyles. This has resulted in heightened interest in quick meals and convenience food. That is why a perfect solution to this problem is freeze-drying. The rising focus on new product improvement in freeze-dried forms is one of the freshest trends that will gain friction in the freeze-dried foods market in the upcoming years.

Re-hydrated freeze-dried meal on a white plate

So, IS freeze-drying the best food preservation method?

Yes and no, the answer lays in you. It is an investment, for sure, but if you use it more often, you’ll have more benefits than other preservation methods can give you. Most importantly, you will keep the nutrients (vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, etc.) in your food, which other methods don’t.

Freeze-drying is a modern method. The intelligent technology lets you place various types of food in one chamber, press start, and stop worrying. The freeze dryer determines the required dry time and automatically controls the freeze dry process up to the end. It is simple to use, and convenient. This will save you time, cash, and strength. You don’t have to be a specialist to buy it. You don’t have to be a huge company as well. Freeze dryers may seem pricey, but considering the food scrap they help limit, yours can pay for it in a matter of years. Once you understand how simple making and utilizing freeze-dried food can be, this innovative storage system might become part of your midweek meal preparation. We can conclude that freeze-drying is the most thriving method of food keeps. Your family’s food trash might soon be reduced to almost zero.

So don’t wait to invest in the best food preservation method and do something good for you and your family!

Picture of Jesse James
Jesse James

Jesse James, an Army Veteran, now shares his passion for gardening through engaging articles on Greenhouse Emporium. Leveraging his experience and love for nature, Jesse provides practical advice and inspires others on their gardening journey.

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