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Can You Freeze Dry Chili
I think this is a great question and one I couldn’t wait to experiment with. I make a really fun chili recipe that I included below for you and I wanted to make sure I could have it long term and ready to eat, should something happen or we want to go for a day-long ride last minute. So when a reader asked if I could freeze dry chili, I couldn’t wait to say yes!
What Chili Can You Freeze Dry
You really have two different options when it comes down to chili. This is in general a life’s decision. Are you going to have canned chili or homemade? That’s really all it comes down to.
I prefer homemade chili, overall. But there are times when canned chili has come to the rescue. When it comes down to freeze drying chili, I prefer homemade as well because it has a lower fat content. This doesn’t mean canned chili isn’t a great option – it is. It’s just I know what I prefer.
Either way, if you freeze dry it, make sure you’re storing it properly. I’ll cover that more fully down below.
How To Freeze Dry Chili
Okay, chili is a basic food that packs a nutritional punch. You’ll make the chili and you’ll allow it to cool. Guess what you’ll do after that? You’ll fill up your trays. There are recommendations on how much to put on your trays, they look like this:
- Small Freeze Dryer – 1-1.5 lbs per tray
- Medium Freeze Dryer – 1.5-2 lbs per tray
- Large Freeze Dryer – 2-2.5 lbs per tray
I honestly just fill my trays up until they’re full and, if it’s not liquid, I’ll go as high as I can without it touching into the shelf above it inside the drum of the freeze drier. This is important because I try to do as much as I can in a load. Other people prefer sticking to the weight and recommendations. And that is AWESOME! I’ve always believed we need to all march to our own beat and do what we need to do.
So that’s what I’m doing. I’ll push the limits of my trays, because that’s what I do. You do you.
Then you’ll pre-freeze your trays. I only recommend this because it has liquid in it and the liquid has the potential of going all over the machine, if it’s not fully frozen when the vacuum turns on halfway through the freezing cycle. It’s happened. It’s scary. I don’t recommend.
Freeze Dried Chili Recipe
Here’s the recipe I promised you.
Freeze Dried Chili Recipe
- 1 lb ground lean meat leaner the better
- 1 white onion chopped
- 1 can pinto beans drained and rinsed
- 1 can red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 1 can dark red kidney beans drained and rinsed
- 4 tbsp taco seasoning
- 1 can diced tomatoes I liked petite
- 3 tbsp granular chicken bouillion
- 1 can tomato sauce
- brown your meat, drain and rinse all excess fat
- add in chopped onions and cook until onions are opaque
- add the rest of the ingredients and simmer for 10 minutes
- allow to cool before putting on your trays
- place trays in the freezer to prefreeze
- I would use the leanest ground meat you can find and when you cook it, I would rinse the excess fat off before you start the rest of the chili recipe.
- Great ideas for ground meat that are super lean; ground chicken, ground turkey, ground venison, ground elk, ground antelope.
- My chili has beans in it. If you don’t want beans in it, then leave the beans out.
- If your recipe is better, awesome, use your recipe and share it with me. I like awesome recipes.
Here are some other chili recipes that would be delicious freeze dried and stored.
What Do I Need To Freeze Dry Chili
You literally need chili and a freeze drier. You need the bags and O2 absorbers for storing. But it really is easy.
There are directions below on how to freeze dry canned chili. Not much different, but there might be a few tips that might help you in your freeze drying adventures.
As you can see, this is the chili on the trays before it’s frozen. It looks so pretty!
And here you can see how it’s already been freeze dried. I like the easy way you can see the disappearance of the high gloss of the moisture. It’s clearly dry. The food has even pulled away from the tray edges. The chili will come out in wafers and will be easy to place into bags.
Let’s look a little closer. The beans have split under the vacuum and with their high carbohydrate content, they held onto the moisture a little bit more than the meat would have. But with additional time, all of the chili freeze dried completely and will store just awesomely in my food storage.
How Do I Reconstitute Freeze Dried Chili
Now that you have your chili and it’s been prepared for long term food storage, how do you turn it into something more than flavored dust? That’s a good question.
Here’s how I do it.
When I’m pulling it from the bags, I place the amount that I want into a bowl. The dried form of food is pretty much the same size it will be when it’s reconstituted. Freeze drying doesn’t change the size, shape, or chemical composition. It just removes the water from its form. So, burritos will look the same, cheese will look the same, ice cream will look the same, they just won’t have water in them. Even sour cream just needs water added to it.
In the image below, you can see how I put in a couple tablespoons of freeze dried chili in a bowl. Then I added roughly the same amount of boiling water. Usually, I’ll start out with just a little less water. I can always add it, but taking it out is a little harder.
You can see the darker material has taken on the water and the pale stuff is still absorbing it.
It’s not fully reconstituted, but it’s getting there.
Using a fork, we mixed it in a little better. I would recommend waiting another minute or so after the pale coloring disappears. This is to give the center of the beans time to fully reconstitute.
If you need it warmer, just put it in the microwave. And Enjoy!
How To Freeze Dry Canned Chili
We got a boon of canned chili not too long ago. Thick and chunky – the best kind!
So, as you can see, step one is to open the cans. Look at that!
They’re VERY chunky. You can see how the fat is collecting in spots. We will freeze dry this, but I wouldn’t put it in my long term food storage plan. Maybe in like the next 2 to 3 years max. But that’s me. Better safe than sorry and I don’t want to waste this thick deliciousness!
You can see how thick it really is.
Filling all the trays and leveling off as much as I can to level it off. I probably could have gone higher with it so thick, but I’d rather be safe than sorry in this instance.
When the chili finished, it pulled away from the trays. This is a good indication of being finished.
So, you can break it up before bagging/jarring it, like pictured below. I don’t break it up much before putting it in the bags.
How Do I store Freeze Dried Chili
As you’ve heard me say before, I prefer mylar bags and O2 absorbers for storing my freeze dried foods, but mason jars are lovely as well.
No matter what you do, make sure your food is fully dried and you’re getting it into the storage container as quickly as you can out of the freeze drier.
Here is the chili in mylar bags, sealed and ready for storage.
COMMON QUESTIONS AROUND FREEZE DRYING CHILI
HOW DO I FREEZE DRY CHILI?
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 CHILI?
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 (if you don’t have a drum cover, no worries) and then tighten the handle as I lock it shut. On the computer touch screen, I selected START > LIQUID > NOT-FROZEN > CONTINUE. After inputting the settings and making sure my drain tube is closed, I walk away.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO FREEZE DRY CHILI?
I have a habit of saying it’s going to take as long as it takes, because it’s true. Mine typically take about 36 hours (shredded – but that was back in Idaho). I live in Missouri now and things are supposed to be a whole lot more humid. The times haven’t changed much since we got here, though, so I’ll update you as needed. This also depends on how you do your chili. I’ve found the discs freeze dry faster than the thickly stacked shredded zucchini. So, long answer short – it’s going to take as long as it takes.
WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO STORE FREEZE DRIED CHILI?
Oh, I love this question. Ultimately, I love mylar bags. They’re my favorite way to store anything freeze dried, but a lot of people make great cases for mason jars. As long as you have the item completely freeze dried and stored in a lightless, airless, air tight container with an O2 absorber, your item will be just fine.