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Can You Freeze Dry Cheese Sticks?
I love freeze dried cheese sticks. One of my favorite snacks that comes out of the freeze dryer are these cheese stick puff balls. That’s my official name for them. Hahaha. Because the short answer to the question above is yes, you can definitely freeze dry cheese sticks. So much yes, that I buy bags and bags of all kinds of cheese sticks to freeze dry for both long term and short term food needs.
Cheese Sticks Are A Healthy Snack
If you don’t know this already, cheese is a friendly food for more people who are health conscious. Especially the lighter on the fat options and those seeking more protein in their diet. Cheese is also phenomenal for flavor and has a wide range of uses that keep our dishes varied and out of the mundane department.
If you have cheese sticks in your food storage, you’re setting yourself up for success should things get rough in a “SHTF” type of way.
Not to mention, they’re a filling and nutritious mainstay for most people with health conditions who need to follow specific eating restrictions – keto, diabetic, low carb, high protein, etc. Definitely not the same as cheesecake!
How Do I Freeze Dry Cheese Sticks?
The easiest part is just picking out your favorite cheese sticks. I prefer the white string cheese because it’s my favorite of all the cheese sticks. My husband, however, prefers pepper jack. Some of the kids love cheddar and my daughter likes the colby jack. All of them freeze dry awesome. Check out shredded cheese and how to freeze dry it here.
Then, you’ll decide how you want to potentially use them in the future. In the stick form, it makes it hard to do much with them. I prefer them in the small pieces, less than an inch in length. At this size, you can pop them like crackers or you can incorporate them into recipes.
How Do I Prepare Cheese Sticks To Freeze Dry?
Open all of your cheese sticks. This is a tedious job and the manufacturers must think we all have extremely dexterous fingers because the wrappers are sometimes super hard to open. I usually have my kids helping me. At my age, I need help when I’ve been on the computer all day working and these little wrappers just don’t want to do what I tell them to.
All you need to do is unwrap all of the cheese sticks and place them on a cutting board. You can use any kind of knife. I like steak knives but when my youngest help me, I give them the butter knives to cut.
Then you cut them into smaller pieces. Usually I go smaller than an inch in length, but I’ve tried them as big as half stick size. They freeze dry just fine but aren’t easy to store.
Should I Use A Tray Liner?
I do. I prefer parchment paper cut to size over the silicone liners from Harvest Right. I do use my silicone liners but not for items that might have a little bit more fat content than other products. Sometimes, on the silicone trays, there will be a fine layer of oil left from the food that the food is lying in when I pull the food out. I’ve noticed this grease tends to be absorbed by the parchment paper.
Do Cheese Sticks Need A Lot Of Room When Freeze Drying?
No. The chunks I did here are spaced more than I normally would space them because I thought I had two bags of the cheese sticks but when I went to get them out, I discovered my kids had devoured one of the bags. Eye twitch. So, I only had one bag to do. So I spread the cheese stick chunks out on the lined trays.
Should I Prefreeze Cheese Sticks?
Prefreezing cheese stick chunks isn’t necessary. Most solids aren’t needed to prefreeze. With some of the program updates Harvest Right has for the freeze dryers, you don’t need to prefreeze most things. I do because I’m a little more on the cautious side than most people lol. And I’ve had some pretty ugly experiences with messes that I don’t want to take any more chances with.
But if you want to prefreeze, you can. It won’t hurt anything.
How Many Cheese Sticks Should I Do?
You’re going to need different amounts depending on which machine you have. If you go according to the weight restrictions from Harvest Right, you’ll want to load the trays up with the following amounts.
Small Freeze Dryer – 1-1.5 lbs per tray – you’re going to need approximately 24 cheese sticks per tray
Medium Freeze Dryer – 1.5-2 lbs per tray – you’re going to need approximately 24 t0 32 cheese sticks per tray
Large Freeze Dryer – 2-2.5 lbs per tray – you’re going to need approximately 32 – 40 cheese sticks per tray
How Long Does It Take To Freeze Dry Cheese Sticks?
Every machine is going to be different because of the size, how you pack the trays, the other variables of where you live and other time of year. But cheese sticks shouldn’t take as long as a load of eggs or soup. Cheese sticks are dense but not full of water like a vegetable or fruit.
When I did the above load which was more like half a load (or less), it only took about 22 hours start to finish.
As you can see in the picture above, the cheese stick sections are not as shiny as in the picture before that one. They’re lighter and crunchy like a cheese puff. As you chew them, they become reconstituted which is just fascinating and slightly addicting. I can easily eat a tray by myself.
How Do I Use Freeze Dried Cheese Sticks?
You can definitely use them in a wet recipe – like lasagna, spaghetti, soup, etc. You just add them as is and let them reconstitute as the dish cooks.
If you want to slowly reconstitute them, you can do it by spraying water on them and letting them sit for a while or soaking them in a bowl of water until they feel like you want them to feel.
What Are Some Keto Ways To Use Freeze Dry Cheese Sticks?
As you know, we love keto options. This lifestyle has made a huge difference in our lives.
Not only are cheese stick bites a great snack to have on hand for a keto eater, but you can also use them as:
- croutons for salad
- crunchy toppings for soups/chilis
- crunchy addition for wraps and sandwiches
HOW DO I FREEZE DRY CHEESE STICKS?
Many people think it’s next to impossible to do the freeze drying for themselves. This is far from factual. Freeze drying at home is made easy by Harvest Right. They sell three different sizes of freeze-drying machines that do everything in the machine – except prep and package.
That’s up to you.
For all intents and purposes, here at Freeze Drying Mama we use the medium sized freeze dryer. You can check out the sizes offered at Harvest Right here.
What this machine does is first freeze the items on stainless steel trays to -41 degrees or lower. This takes about 10 hours or so.
Then a vacuum pump turns on and creates a vacuum inside the drum. This is the drying stage and will vacillate the heat of the tray up and down to a pretty warm temperature. This makes the frozen items release any water in them in vapor form. The vacuum sucks the moisture to the drum. This collects in ice form on the inner circle of the drum.
Then there’s the final dry which is essentially the same thing, but with a time associated with it and an end in sight!
WHAT SETTINGS DO I USE TO FREEZE DRY CHEESE STICKS?
On the Harvest Right freeze drier – this works on all sizes – after putting the trays inside the drum on the shelves, I put in the drum cover and then tighten the handle as I lock it shut. On the computer touch screen, I selected START >NON-LIQUID > NOT FROZEN > CONTINUE. After inputting the settings and making sure my drain tube was closed, I walked away.