In survival and preparedness, there’s a lot of confusion around freeze-dried food. What is it, what it’s not, why you should care? Freeze drying is a valuable complement to your overall food preservation plans. In this article, we will share with you the knowledge and wise decision to store freeze-dried food for the long term.
Whether you decide to buy freeze-dried survival food kits or invest in a home freeze dryer, the results are the same. Excellent prepper food at the ready you can store for the long term. Lightweight, shelf-stable, easy to use, and tasty, freeze-dried food is a winner.
What is Freeze-Drying?
Freeze drying food is a food-preservation method using the science of low-temperature dehydration. This process results in a lightweight, shelf-stable, and decay-resistant food product.
But freeze drying is only possible by using a tightly controlled series of temperature and vacuum settings. And this can only take place in a sealed chamber that takes advantage of sublimation.
Sublimation is the process where ice changes directly from a solid to a gas. Skipping over the liquid state entirely. Once the ice is in its gas form, the freeze dryer extracts it from the chamber and away from the food.
We can break the entire process down into three simple steps:
Step 1: Freeze the food
Step 2: Decrease air pressure
Step 3: Slowly warm the food to allow ice to sublimate, removing water vapor.
By repeating this process several times it will gradually reduce the water locked within the food. In the end, the food retains its original appearance, taste, and smell –but with a fraction of the moisture and weight. Resulting in dehydrated food –with nearly zero moisture.
7 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD CHOOSE FREEZE-DRIED FOOD
1. It Tastes Better. Canning and dehydrating can both be great options, but they also can leave a bland end product. Freeze-dried food tastes fresh.
2. It Looks Better. Look, and taste are not the same thing. Adults have learned this through experience. Sometimes food may look gross but taste wonderful. Or the other way around…
3. Better Nutrition. The nutrients in fresh foods are often damaged or lost in preservation. Luckily, freeze-drying retains nearly all the nutrients and no added preservatives.
4. Less Food Waste. You can freeze-dry small portions –even leftovers from meals you didn’t finish.
5. Amazing Shelf Life. Freeze-dried food can last decades with proper packaging. That’s compared to months for freezing and a couple of years for canning.
6. Lightweight Storage. You can store freeze-dried food on regular cabinet shelves. You don’t need heavily reinforced steel can storage racks for mason jars and 10 cans. Moreover, freeze-dried food meals travel exceptionally well in your survival pack or bug-out bag.
7. Easy Preparation. With freeze-drying, you don’t have to add anything extra to your food before processing. For example; You can have freeze-dried an entire lasagna directly in a pan!
The Story Behind Pre-Packaged Freeze-Dried Food
The easiest way to get into freeze-dried food is to buy some online. Nowadays, the selection of commercially made pre-packaged freeze-dried meals is incredible. Lots of companies are providing a vast menu of options, so there are flavors to suit everyone.
But not all freeze-dried food companies are equal. Some are reputable and provide an excellent product and customer service experience. While others are “fly-by-night” operations, who are good at marketing but not much else.
These quality brands have delicious menu offerings, with lots of time-tested favorites:
Valley Food Storage
Legacy Food Storage
Choosing The Right Meals
As for which meals to choose, there are a few things to look out for:
Taste is, of course, a considerable factor in which meals you’ll want to select.
Sure, after a long day on the trail or post-emergency, it is easy to wolf down just about anything. But eating a tasty meal makes life a little easier. This is especially true if you’re eating a meal during times of emergency or chaos.
So, my advice is to stick mostly with meals your confident you’ll enjoy. For example, if you love lasagna or beef stroganoff, get several of those meals with your order.
Serving size and ingredients help determine how many calories a meal can provide. If a package claims to be 2 servings, be sure to see how large those servings are before purchasing.
Just be sure you order enough calories to replace what you’re preparing for… Whether it’s a backpacking trip or for a dire national emergency, you prefer not to run out of calories…
One of the common gripes with many freeze-dried meals is the high sodium content. While your body does lose salt during exertion, the amount of salt in many meals is quite high. Higher than necessary for typical replacement.
Unfortunately, there’s not much you can do about the sodium level in most of these meals. You can’t remove it. But it’s worth noting which ones are lower if you’re concerned about the extra salt intake.
Unfortunately, pre-packaged freeze-dried meals aren’t cheap. If you’re planning for a long excursion or an extended emergency backup, the price can add up fast.
Some manufacturers (i.e., Mountain House and Valley Food Storage) have bulk packages. These deals can help to keep the cost down a bit. But these deals generally come with pre-determined menus. So, you don’t have many options if you don’t like the selection.
Furthermore, some vendors offer a small discount if you buy a given item by the case (generally 6-10 packages per case).
Freeze drying removes a considerable amount of the weight from a meal. But they can still take up a lot of space — especially if air remains in the packages.
That’s why some manufacturers take the extra step to use vacuum sealers after freeze-drying. This can significantly reduce the package size. Depending on your situation and how tight you are on space, this can be a game-changer.