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Freeze Dried Food

About freeze dried food for home food storage.

Freeze dried foods are usually done commercially, as the equipment that is required is very expensive and extremely technical to use. There are three stages in the freeze drying process: Freezing, primary drying and secondary drying.

In the freezing stage, fresh (or cooked) foods are first flash frozen and then placed in a vacuum chamber. While this may sound simple enough it is really quite complicated, with large objects taking up to a few months to freeze. This is not something just anyone could do, as it does take special equipment and specialized training. This first step is the most important of all the steps because if you do this one wrong the food will spoil no matter how well you do the other ones. Temperatures here range between -50 F and -80 F. (Brrr!)

Next during the primary drying phase, the pressure within the equipment is lowered while a little heat is added until about 95% of the food's moisture is drawn off by evaporating ice. While I say a little heat is added, I don't mean to imply that it gets warm in the machine.a "little heat" still means that the temperature is below freezing. This phase can take a long time as well, maybe even a couple days, because if too much heat is added at too fast of a rate the food could be altered. Once again, you'd be stuck with a product that wasn't of the best quality. What actually occurs during this step is the ice is removed from the food itself. The last and final step aims to remove any unfrozen water still left within the food.

The secondary drying phase is the last step that is necessary to remove the unfrozen water still left behind by the other steps. (It's hard to believe that there would still be anything left unfrozen at this point, but apparently there is)! Where the previous step used pressure to force the water out, this one uses temperature. By the end of this step, the final amount of water left in the product is roughly only 4%, and in some cases even less. This is what makes freeze dried food so lightweight; almost all the water has been removed.

At this point the freeze drying process is complete and the food is ready to be packaged for consumers. Some of the benefits to buying freeze dried food are that it is light, compact and long lasting. This makes them great for camping or for use in an emergency. The food can be stored for quite a long time (in some cases up to 25 years) without losing its nutritional value. All that is required is that it be re-constituted before use.

Some cons about using freeze dried food are that it does require water to use it. This is not a problem when you have a handy source of water around, but should water be scarce or hard to get to it could become a very big problem. Also, this type of food can be more expensive than others simply because of all the work that goes into preparing it.