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Freeze dry food - Definition and Advantages

Freeze-drying is a food preservation method developed very recently. Today, it yields the best results among all preservation solutions, whether it concerns the taste and appearance of the food, shelf life, nutritional values, weight and space, or the method of preparation.

▶▶Freeze-dried meals◀◀

Among preservation methods...

Throughout history, food preservation has been key to human survival; fruits, vegetables, or meats begin to deteriorate right after harvest. During difficult times, people could only rely on certain preservation methods to feed themselves throughout the year.

The most well-known method is drying using the sun and wind, widely used in African countries or the Middle East. In colder regions, inhabitants took advantage of freezing food during harsh winters (by storing directly in the snow). Subsequently, new methods emerged: smoking thus became the best technique for preserving meat...

Another well-known and still used method today is canning. It involves preserving previously sterilized food in airtight containers (cans or jars, for example). Sterilization is a preservation technique that destroys all germs and microbial spores by heating the food to high temperatures (above 100°C). This technique was invented by Nicolas Appert in response to the French army's request for a better preservation technique in 1795.



Freeze-drying of food was apparently already used by the Andean Indians. The freeze-drying method we use today was developed by the French Arsène d'Arsonval and Frédéric Bordas in 1906.

This principle was improved during World War II to transport vaccines to compensate for unreliable refrigeration. Then it was primarily used by NASA, aiming to provide a varied and high-quality food stock to astronauts on missions.

Since then, freeze-drying has become known to the general public thanks to a staple product: freeze-dried coffee.

Freeze-drying involves freezing the food and then dehydrating it to extract the water. This makes the product take up less space, and it only needs to be rehydrated to return to its form. From the freeze-dryer to our cup or plate, there are many steps to obtain a freeze-dried product. Here is the principle:

1 - Rapid freezing of the product, fresh or cooked, at extremely negative temperatures around -40°C.

2 - Sublimation of the frozen product: the frozen water evaporates quickly in an air vacuum environment. The food slowly warms in this environment. Once it crosses 0°C, the solid water, unable to return to liquid in an air vacuum, directly transitions to a gaseous state. Thus, the food is freeze-dried.

3 - Sealing of the freeze-dried foods in packaging to protect them from moisture and oxygen, thus ensuring a long shelf life. Some items can even last 25 years!

This method is still very costly today because it consumes a lot of energy, but it offers many advantages over other preservation techniques.

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The advantages of freeze-dried

Freeze-drying is a method that can be used on all food products (even ice cream!)... These products are today consumed by people engaging in outdoor activities (Hiking, Mountain Biking, Sailing, Kayaking, Self-sufficient Racing, Trail Running...) or others who simply want to prepare a food reserve in case of a survival situation.

Here is why these people use these freeze-dried products:

- Taste and appearance: freeze-dried products have the same taste and appearance as fresh products. Freeze-drying does not shrink or harden the food but preserves its aroma, shape, flavor... Once rehydrated, the food items are as if fresh.

- Shelf life: the shelf life of freeze-dried products is very significant. When the product is properly stored, foods can be consumed up to 25 years. Even after this period, the products remain edible, the flavors and nutritional values are almost as good as at the moment of freeze-drying. In comparison, dehydrated food and frozen products only last up to 2 years. (Depending on the type of packaging)

- Nutritional values: freeze-drying causes very little damage to foods. It allows for the preservation of about 95% of the nutritional values of freeze-dried products. Other methods like dehydration only keep 60% of nutritional values because heat destroys some vitamins and minerals.

- Weight and space: once water is removed from foods, they are very light. For example, for vegetables, fruits, or dairy products, their water content exceeds 80%, cooked pasta contains about 70% water, fish and meats contain 65 to 70% water, some products like butter contain only a little water. Additionally, freeze-drying offers a significant space saving allowing to store a lot of products in your food reserve or to carry in your backpack.

- Preparation: freeze-dried meals are very quick to prepare just need to be rehydrated with hot or cold water depending on the recipes. It then takes a few minutes to be able to enjoy them. Today, manufacturers are able to offer a very wide range of freeze-dried dishes.  From breakfast to dessert, everything is "freeze-driable". From aligot to paella, passing through scrambled eggs and apple compote, it is possible today to eat healthy and varied even in the middle of the sea or on a summit thanks to freeze-drying.

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💡 A word about Freeze-Dried & Co?

Based in Lorient (Brittany), we are an online store specializing in food and outdoor equipment. We offer quality products designed to accompany outdoor enthusiasts for years. If this article is dedicated to hikers, know that this equipment is also suitable for climbing enthusiasts, via ferrata, bikepacking, bushcraft, mountaineering, or even packrafting.

Our experience allows us to deliver quickly throughout Europe. If you have any questions, our experts are available and will be happy to advise you:

☎ 02 97 87 23 73
📧 team[at]freezedriedandco.com

We also have a showroom open from Monday to Friday:

📍 6 bis rue du sous-marin Vénus, 56100 Lorient