Updated: Jun 4, 2022
Did you know that the advent of freeze-drying began with Peruvian Incas in the 15th century? They knew that storing their crops high up in the mountain tops would effectively freeze their food, and because the altitude was so extreme, water from the food would gradually vaporize, preserving the crops for an extended period of time. We've come a long way from the ancient methods of food preservation, and can now confidently preserve almost any type of food with modern freeze-drying machines.
You may be a big fan of freeze-dried foods already, or you may have no idea they are. Many people consume freeze-dried foods in their diet without even recognizing exactly what they are! You may have heard of 'astronaut food', which you might have had the opportunity to sample as a child on field trips to space centers or museums. These little packets of 'astronaut food' usually consist of freeze-dried ice cream, though actual astronauts do eat a variety of other freeze-dried foods due to the incredible shelf life and ease of preparation.
You have also had the opportunity to try freeze-dried strawberries if you've ever dived into a bowl of Special K Red Berries breakfast cereal. Have you ever sipped on a cup of piping hot instant coffee? That was freeze-dried coffee which you rehydrated with hot water! Have you ever purchased a "just add water" camping meal in a bag? That is a freeze-dried meal ready to be rehydrated! Do you enjoy putting fruit or vegetable powders into your morning smoothie? Those are most likely freeze-dried fruits/vegetables that have been ground into a powder. There is a reason so many companies (including ours) utilize freeze-dried goods in their products, and this blog post will help you to understand why.
What is freeze-drying? How does the process affect the food? How long do freeze-dried foods last? What do they taste like? Let’s answer all of those questions and more!
What is freeze-drying?
In short, freeze-drying is a process which entails completely freezing your food, and then creating a vacuum effect to remove over 98% of the water content. This is accomplished through a specialized freeze-drying machine. Once your food has successfully been freeze-dried, you are left with a crisp, moisture-free, and highly concentrated and delicious version of your food.
Apart from removing moisture, what else does the process remove from foods?
Even more amazing than a machine that can suck all water out of any type of food, is the fact that freeze-dried foods retain over 97% of their nutritional value. They also retain their shape and colour. In comparison to other methods, such as dehydrating, freeze-drying is the best way to retain nutrition, flavour, and drastically extend the shelf-life of foods. And according to related studies, the loss of nutrients is so minuscule that in some cases, it is almost immeasurable. In fact, the loss of nutrients can be mostly accounted for through the storage method of freeze-dried foods, rather than the actual process itself.
How long do freeze-dried foods last?
Foods can last for upwards of 25 years when freeze-dried, depending on how they are stored. Directly after freeze-drying our fruits and other goodies, we place them in glass jars which are immediately vacuum sealed to ensure that no moisture is introduced. They are then properly stored in a cool and dry place until market day.
What do foods that have been freeze-dried taste like?
We like to think of freeze-drying as an amplification tool when it comes to the flavour of foods. Just imagine one of your favourite foods and having the taste of it heightened while taking out the weight of it. Freeze-dried foods are light, crisp, airy, and flavour-packed. It’s something that needs to be tasted first-hand in order to truly appreciate the unique flavors and textures freeze-drying has to offer!
Vancouver Island’s Own is a family-owned and operated business specializing in gourmet, vegan, and organic granola & trail mix, handmade with love in Victoria, BC. We believe in encouraging others to explore and connect with the environment in order to ensure our collective well-being.
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