Today we start talking about the different types of food storage. First up is freeze dried foods, followed by dehydrated, MREs and canned foods.
Food keeps texture, shape, taste and size
Slightly higher price
Quickly reconstitutes with warm water
Expensive equipment needed
Lighter, for carrying or backpacking
Food stays full size, requiring more space
Keeps its nutritional value
Freeze-drying is the method of preserving food that retains the delicious taste and nutrition of fresh foods. Fresh or cooked foods are flash frozen and then put in large vacuum chamber that can remain as cold as -50°F. Next, a very small amount of heat is applied and the ice evaporates without ever turning back into water. This removes almost all of the moisture from the product.
After that, the food is canned or bagged and labeled for long term storage and is easy to use at a later date. Yes, freeze-drying is a more expensive process, but it produces a shelf life similar to that of dehydrated foods and, most importantly, it retains its flavor better and does not lose its nutritional value. It is a good choice for fruits and meats.
The Freeze-Drying Process
When food is freeze-dried, fresh or cooked foods are first flash frozen when the food tastes its best. The moisture is then removed in a vacuum chamber, where a low-level heat is applied to evaporate the ice without returning it to a liquid form. Since the product remains frozen during the process, the product’s cell structures do not change and it retains the freshness, vitamins, nutrients, colors, and aromas of the fresh foods while offering you the shelf-stable convenience of long-term storage. This freeze-drying process allows for quick re-hydration of the product, making freeze-dried foods ideal for your food storage. Freeze-dried products are light; they typically weigh up to 90 percent less than the product’s original weight. Just add water and they are ready to use!
In addition to complementing your other stored foods (or even replacing them), freeze-dried food has the advantages of looking, tasting and staying fresh, weighing less than fresh foods, and adding variety to your meals while being quick and easy to prepare.
After freeze-dried foods are rehydrated, many are very comparable to the foods you might find in the freezer section of your grocery store. Since freeze-dried foods re-hydrate well and taste much like frozen foods (or even better), they allow you to create meals that taste much like those you would normally create using fresh foods.
The following qualities of freeze-dried foods are the main reasons they are a long-term food storage favorite:
Fresh appearance - Freeze-dried foods are flash frozen before anything else and then the moisture is removed so that they maintain the majority of their original shape, texture and appearance.
Fresh taste - Freeze-dried food is not dried using heat processing allowing it to retain more of the aroma and flavor of the original food. The freeze-drying process also retains most of the original food’s nutritional content. Freeze-drying simply removes the water, not the flavor.
Lasting freshness - The freeze-drying process removes water and oxygen, the two primary causes of food deterioration. To further ensure the lasting freshness of these foods, both Provident Pantry® and Mountain House® (two of the major freeze-dried food companies) #10 cans and pouches are packed with under approximately 2 percent oxygen content. This helps keep the food tasting fresh. Most of the other companies out there have similar numbers.
Low storage weight - Freeze-dried foods have about 98 percent of their water removed, resulting in foods that will weigh between 75 and 90 percent less than the original food. The freeze-drying process results in foods that are exceptionally light. This makes it easy to package, easier to transport, and just as easy to store, if not easier. For this reason, freeze-dried foods are the excellent choice in 72-hour emergency kits when you may be required to carry several days of food in a small backpack. At the same time, the reconstitution ratio of these foods is high. A little bit goes a long way.
Easy preparation - The freeze-drying process allows for quick rehydration of the food, making them ideal for your food storage. Most freeze-dried items are reconstituted by adding warm water, waiting about five minutes then draining off the excess water. They are then ready for use in your recipes.
Variety - Traditional dehydrated food storage items like wheat, rice, beans, sugar, and the rest of the staples allow you to create a wide variety of recipes. Freeze-dried foods add a whole other dimension to what you can make with your stored dehydrated basics. With the help of freeze-dried meats, cheeses, fruits and vegetables, you can use your dehydrated basics to create many things like pizza or tacos, sweeteners for cereals, additions for soup bases, breakfast casseroles, desserts and a myriad of other things.
Copyright ©2010 Noel Napolitan
*All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Visit my emergency preparedness/self sufficiency/homesteading website! It is a work in progress so, please, check back often!