I have spent hours preserving foods through various methods such as dehydrating, canning, freezing, and fermenting but have found that using a freeze dryer to freeze dry foods is my favorite preservation method. I have reconstituted many freeze dried foods especially produce and meats, then used them in everyday meals and cooking. The other day as I was using some of my freeze dried onions in my cooking I couldn’t help but wonder if freeze dried food was healthy or not? After a couple days of research the answer became very clear.
Freeze dried food is as healthy as it was when the food was fresh. Freeze-dried foods maintain 97% of their original nutritional value. Freeze drying is one of the best ways to preserve food for long-term storage while maintaining the most nutritional value.
Other food preservation methods, such as canning and dehydrating, use higher temperatures that degrade the nutrition of the food. Once rehydrated the food maintains 97% of the nutritional value it had when fresh. The biggest loss you will find in nutrients during the freeze drying/rehydrating process is vitamins A, C, and E.
Dehydrating is still a good process for extending food storage life and we have enjoyed using our food dehydrators over the years. To know exactly which one is right for you check out my article Buying a Home Dehydrator, Best Dryers & What to Know First.
“Nutrition labels of commercially freeze-dried broccoli, pineapple, and cooked chicken chunks compare favorably to nutrient data of raw or commercially frozen products.”Expert Weighs In – Utah State University food safety specialist Brian Nummer – Preserve the Harvest
To know for sure if buying your own home freeze dryer is right for you check out our article Buying a Home Freeze Dryer, What You Need to Know First.
I have spent hours compiling a list of my favorite freeze dried foods that are available from reputable companies. Check out my article Best Freeze Dried Foods: Must-Haves For Any Circumstance.
Why is Freeze Dried Food Good For You?
- Freeze drying preserves 97% of the nutrients compared to other food preservation methods such as canning retaining only 40% or dehydrating retaining only 60%.
- Freeze drying maintains much of the original flavor and texture when rehydrated. Freeze dried foods do not shrink. It also does not make foods tough.
- Freeze dried food, when stored correctly, has a 10-25-year shelf life. Up to 20 years longer than other preservation methods such as canning – 3 years, dehydration – 4 years, or freezing – 2 years.
- Freeze drying has been around for a long time. Since 1906 and has been perfected over the years to keep food at its optimal nutritional level while maintaining its taste.
- Freeze dried foods have little to no preservatives or additives. Freeze drying food uses real foods and ingredients.
- Things such as fruits and candies can be and are often times preferred to be eaten without being re-hydrated while still maintaining the same nutritional value.
Freeze dried fruits and vegetables can be more nutritious than fresh fruits or vegetables. When picked at their optimal ripeness in their harvesting season and immediately flash frozen and/or freeze dried they are often more nutrient-dense than fresh fruits and vegetables from the grocery store that were picked before they were ripe and had to travel days or even weeks to get to the store while quickly losing its nutritional value.
This gives you the option to have fresh nutrient-dense fruits and vegetables year-round whether the fruit or vegetable is in season or not.
Does freeze dried food lose or keep its nutritional value?
Freeze dried food keeps 97 percent of its original nutritional value and only loses 3 percent of its nutrients. Compared to other food preservation methods, freeze drying is much better at maintaining its nutritional value. Due to the use of high temperatures, food preservation methods such as dehydrating will lose approximately 60 percent and canning will lose 40 percent of the food’s original nutrients.
What is better dehydrated or freeze dried food? Freeze drying is better than dehydrating at preserving food for a longer-term storage because it removes more moisture (making it store longer) and locks in a much higher percentage of the food’s original nutrients. Dehydrated foods will have a shelf life of about one to two years while freeze dried food will have a shelf life ranging from 10-25 years. However, for those on a budget that doesn’t allow room for very many freeze dried foods, it may be a better option to dehydrate food at a cheaper cost so that they can have access to more food in emergency-type situations.
Freeze dried food maintained nutritional value
Dehydrated food maintained nutritional value
Canned food maintained nutritional value
|Food Preservation Method||Percentage of Nutritional Value Maintained||Shelf Life|
|Freeze Drying||97%||10 – 25 Years|
|Dehydrating/Drying||60%||1 – 4 Years|
|Canning||40%||2 – 5 Years|
Do freeze dried fruits still have nutrients?
Freeze-dried fruit is nearly as healthy as it was before it was freeze dried therefore still has most of its nutrients after being freeze dried. Freeze dried fruit can preserve more nutrients than fresh fruits that have been harvested and then left unattended or in the refrigerator for too many days. If harvested while in-season and immediately freeze dried to lock in all of its nutrients, freeze dried fruit will preserve up to 97% of its original nutrients.
How does freeze drying maintain nutrients?
When freeze drying food, the food goes from fresh to frozen in a matter of seconds, locking all vitamins and nutrients inside. Freeze drying uses very little heat in the process. Whereas canning and dehydrating use a substantial amount of heat which releases a larger portion of the vitamins and minerals from the food.
While locking in the vitamins and nutrients, freeze drying also locks in the flavor as it quickly freezes the food. Freeze dried foods can be delicious while also being just as nutritious as it was the day it was freeze dried. While freeze dried food maintains most of its nutritional value, it also maintains its sugar content already in the item you are freeze-drying which helps with flavor. This means freeze dried foods will generally have a higher sugar content than dehydrated foods.
Does Freeze Dried Food Really Taste Good?
Freeze dried foods hold the same flavor, shape, and color. Freeze dried foods can taste as good as fresh. Before the food has been rehydrated it will have a light airy, crisp texture that will crumble when you squeeze it between your fingers. Because there is no water content in the freeze dried food it can sometimes increase the original flavor making a more concentrated flavor because freeze drying takes out the water/moisture not the flavor.
Things like freeze dried fruits and vegetables are commonly eaten without rehydrating because the flavor is so good on its own. They are also often used in yogurt or smoothies.
Does Freeze Drying Food Kill Bacteria?
Freeze drying food does not kill bacteria. Freeze drying is not a food safety process so bacteria and other microorganisms can stay viable and dormant even after being freeze dried. Before freeze drying your food you will need to prepare your food by following proper cleaning and handling.
When home freeze drying raw foods the bacteria on the raw foods will remain alive, then activate upon rehydration. Food items that are cooked before eating must also be cooked before eating as freeze dried food. Examples include raw meats, raw eggs, and foods containing raw ingredients.
Does Freeze Drying Remove Sugar?
Freeze drying does not remove any of the sugar content. However, to decide whether the food is healthy is not only about the amount of sugar. Portion size and other nutrients should also be taken into consideration. Freeze drying does not lose as many nutrients as drying or canning. So while freeze dried fruits may have a higher sugar content than canned or dried foods it also has much higher nutrients overall.
Freeze dried fruits and vegetables can be a superior option to canned fruits and vegetables because it locks in a considerable amount more of the nutrients than the other food preservation methods.
What are the Advantages of Freeze Dried Food?
- Preserving and storing more food items – Freeze drying works great for fruits and vegetables, but unlike other food preservation options, it also preserves meat, fish, dairy, eggs, candy, skittles, ice cream, and even fully-cooked meals. The advantage is that most foods can be preserved by freeze drying.
- Longer shelf life – One of the main advantages is freeze dried food can be stored at room temperature in a sealed mylar bag, jar, or food-grade bucket for up to 25 years.
- Nutritional value – Freeze-dried foods maintain 97% of their nutritional value. Other food preservation methods, such as canning and dehydrating, will use higher temperatures that degrade the nutrition of the food.
- Taste – Freeze-dried foods rehydrate more fully than dehydrated products, so the taste and texture are closer to fresh with a freeze-dried product than with a dehydrated product. This also means that you can use freeze-dried foods as ingredients in your everyday cooking and rehydrate the food with excellent results.
- Freeze drying candy including skittles, gummy bears, and much more. However, pure chocolate, honey, syrup, and jam don’t freeze-dry well.
What are the Disadvantages of Freeze Dried Food?
- Cost /Expensive – The biggest disadvantage of Freeze dried food is that it is expensive to buy compared to non-freeze dried items because of the specilized equipment needed. In some cases, it can cost up to 5 times more. Also buying a home freeze dryer is expensive starting at more than $2,000 for the smaller machines. Although, the cost can be mitigated over time if used regularly.
- Water required for reconstitution (except for simple snacks).
- Some people dislike the dry texture.
- Not all foods can be freeze dried. Check out our article What Foods Can and Cannot be Freeze Dried: Complete Guide.