BY DUANE CHENEY-SYRACUSE CITY DISASTER PREPAREDNESS COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN
Freeze drying retains nutritional value better than other drying methods. The process also preserves the actual color and shape of the original raw food. Freeze drying food at the peak of its ripeness and nutrient content preserves it comparably to using fresh produce. Studies have shown that freeze-dried foods often retain over 90% of the original fresh food’s nutrition.
Freeze-dried foods offer a longer shelf life, lower moisture content, and generally taste better than dehydrated foods. Freeze-dried foods rehydrate faster and also retain their original shape, texture, and color better than dehydrated foods.
Freeze drying food uses a process called lyophilization to lower the temperature of the product to below freezing, and then a high-pressure vacuum is applied which extracts the water from the food in the form of vapor. This process retains the physical structure of the food product and preserves it for re-hydration at a later date.
If you have enough water or ways to purify water, you can easily survive on freeze-dried foods.
• The equipment needed for this process can be expensive.
• The equipment takes up quite a bit of space, is not easy to move, and makes a bit of noise.
• It’s not as common to know how to use freeze-dried food to prepare meals.
• Freeze-dried foods also take up almost as much space as fresh foods.
To show how easy it is, here is an example: Eggs can be freeze-dried both raw and cooked, but the best way to freeze-dry eggs is raw. Simply crack a large number of eggs into a bowl and quickly scramble. Pour the raw eggs into a tray and freeze dry.
Freeze dryers are no longer prohibitively expensive but are still an investment. Freeze dryers may be worth their cost for those who want lightweight, short- or long-term food storage with minimal loss in nutrition and taste.
Freeze-dried foods last longer than dehydrated foods. Most freeze-dried foods that you buy are sealed airtight in resilient Mylar packaging, which does take up less space and has up to a twenty-five-year shelf life. Freeze-dried meats are on the lower end of the shelf-life spectrum and last around 10 years.
Freeze-drying at home is easier than canning, takes less space when in Mylar bags, and helps food last longer.