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If you’ve hung around FDM much, you know I’m obsessed with freeze drying. OBSESSED.
Do you love freeze drying?
If you’re not sure what freeze drying is, check out The Ultimate Guide to Freeze Drying for the Beginner and Pro alike.
When I say that I love freeze drying, it isn’t because I think of it as a hobby, although it definitely can be. No, I love freeze drying because of the healthy ways I can extend the life of my food. I also have my top 10 reasons (plus a bonus!).
Are any of your reasons the same as mine?
Lyophilization is the crazy scientific term for what we’re doing here. It’s a terrific way to extend the longevity of your food. So many of us are food storage fans and food hoarders.
I know I am! My particular favorite is meat. I have a problem. I’ll deal with it later. lol. What’s so nice about freeze drying food is that it keeps most of its nutrients according to a study found on Food Navigator. Food dehydration can cut in upwards of 20% of nutrients while freeze drying doesn’t lose even half that and that’s over 25 years!
Easier to store:
I love the way food looks in mason jars. Let’s be honest, nothing is better than the beautiful colors showing through the glass, but at the same time, I don’t have that kind of space. So! I prefer mine to be tucked away in Mylar bags under the crawl space. What’s nice is that with freeze drying, you have a lot of options and you don’t have to just keep the food tucked in the freezer or on the shelves in jars.
Like I mentioned above, I LOVE the easy options we have with freeze drying our food storage.
Where we live, there’s always a high chance of losing power during the winter (okay, and the summer months, too). When we have two years’ worth of meat from our hunts stored in there as well as a summer’s worth of veggies and fruits, it’s terrifyingly stressful to stay on top of the generator and transfer switch during those types of events. Instead of taking up the shelving space in the garage that the hubs needs for tools and whatever else is out there, I can package my food, tuck it in a big Rubbermaid bin, and store it in the loft, crawlspace, or other dark, cool place.
I saw this meme one time and I feel like this is me but with the freeze dried food storage in place of the craft supplies!
Photo source: https://me.me/i/the-awkward-moment-when-your-husband-finds-all-your-hobby-10122731
Cheaper to pack:
We like to travel and one of the things we do with six kids is try to keep vacations cheap. Oh, let me tell you how hard this is. When we go out to eat with 6 kids between the ages of 6 and 15, we’re looking at a meal ticket of about $100. Okay, that’s fine. Whatever. We can do it cheaper. But when we go to more expensive places like Seattle or (fill in with more expensive city that we want to go to but can’t afford), we try to figure out a way to keep it cheaper.
You guessed it! We pack along freeze dried pre-cooked ground burger in one- and two-pound packages to turn into meals with other cheaper supplies we can pick up at the store. All stores have tortilla chips and cheese. Bam! Nachos. When we hunt, camp, hike, or go dirt biking, we carry along a few of our favorite snacks and they’re light, fun, and tasty. Who doesn’t love that trifecta?
When you fly with them, they’re virtually weightless and you can pack just about anything. Even different sized bags help make this even more doable.
With the lack of moisture in the food items, it’s easy to see how much weight food can lose. As you can see here, I’m easily holding a large bin overflowing with freeze dried food. The foods in that bin are rotisserie chicken, ground burger, turkey, and peppers. I lift and work out hard, but there’s no reason I should be able to lift this bin for as long as it took for my daughter to figure out how to work my phone. (Hint: A lot longer than I thought it would.)
You read that correctly earlier. 25 years! When freeze dried properly, sealed, and stored correctly, freeze dried foods can last close to 25 years! That’s more than any can of corn.
I want to test and see if I can change out the bag and oxygen absorber at 20 years and see if I can extend that, but I’m not sure I’m going to be interested in 20 years or even remember anything, let alone that I’m supposed to test out the expiration date extender idea I have right now. I have Mama Brain as it is. I even forgot what I was typing about.
I love dehydrated food. Apple slices are chewy. Sun dried tomatoes taste delicious. Jerky – HELLO! I mean, there are so many great things associated with dehydrated food, except the way it looks. It turns into a leathery, older version of what the food should actually look like.
Freeze dried food looks like the original item you started with. Bright colors, normal size (unless it’s Skittles, I mean, wow!), and great taste whether it’s reconstituted or not. I’m not gonna lie, freeze dried food has some definite benefits over dehydrated.
The first food we did in our freeze dryer in April was strawberry slices. If you could only see how my eyes want to roll back in my head at the memory. The slices felt like Styrofoam, but as they reconstituted IN MY MOUTH, I was slightly screaming in excitement that my first batch of something was so dang tasty. At the begging of my son, I didn’t package those. We ate all of them – even dipped them in chocolate sauce like chips!
I don’t know about you, but I’m not sure I could put Stew or spaghetti with meatballs into my food dehydrator or even can them to last almost 25 years. I’m pretty sure the spaghetti would break down almost completely. Not so with freeze drying. I’ve got things in my food storage that I never thought would be possible to have in my food storage like: Costco Combo pizza, ice cream sandwiches, lasagna, Costco rotisserie chicken, bananas, cubed ham and meat, and more.
The sky is the limit with very few limitations.
When we pull a load off the unit, we try whatever the food is right then. The item is still warm but it’s dry and soft like paper or Styrofoam. Saliva alone can reconstitute the food in your mouth.
Most of the time you just add water or milk to whatever it is that you’ve freeze dried to reconstitute it. We sometimes don’t want it to reconstitute it, we just want to eat it like a cracker – cheese sticks make the best snacks for this! You can sprinkle freeze dried cheese on just about anything or powder it and mix it with anything and it still gets all melty! Don’t even get me started on raw eggs!
With 6 kids (a family of 8), I’ve learned to cook LARGE. Sometimes I cook too much and then find out that my kids were already snacking or hubs had something else planned. Ugh. That used to frustrate me so much! I’m a planner and I have meals planned out in advance. Leftovers are great, but not when you only have enough here or there for one or two people and 8 to feed. So… when I got the freeze dryer I realized I didn’t have to lose leftovers. You know what I’m talking about – they stay in the fridge too long and you’re throwing out a collection of food at the end of the week/month that you makes you sick at the sheer amount.
So, I have a leftovers batch that I freeze dry. It’s so fun! Fajitas, pork chops and au gratin potatoes, spaghetti, hamburger patties, and more! What a great way to save some cash.
Great gift idea:
Sh, don’t tell anyone, but we’re doing some great Christmas gifts this year. Some of these things are eclectic that a lot of people haven’t tried and would really like. For instance, freeze dried ice cream treats are amazing. You feel like you’re eating a cookie but as it reconstitutes in your mouth, it becomes creamy and tasty in moments. One of the only ways we can take ice cream sandwiches when we go dirt biking. But what a fun way to gift people. This year we’re doing marshmallows, candy, ravioli and meat sauce. I’m excited to hear what they think!
I love, absolutely LOVE, my freeze dryer. I have more time invested in my food storage now, when before I felt more overwhelmed than anything. Now, I can actually say I have food storage for my family and friends, if need be. What a comforting way to provide for my future.
Plus, who doesn’t love novelty items in your food storage? No wheat for me! (Okay, there is! I’m just figuring out how to store it better.)
Have you tried freeze drying? What’s your favorite thing to freeze dry?