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Freeze dry food - Definition and Advantages

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

▶▶Freeze-Dried Meals◀◀

Among the preservation methods...

Since the dawn of time, food preservation has been key to human survival; fruits, vegetables, and meats begin to deteriorate as soon as they are harvested. During difficult times, people could only rely on certain preservation methods to ensure they had enough to eat throughout the year.

The most well-known method is drying by sun and wind, widely used in African countries and the Middle East. In colder regions, inhabitants would freeze food during harsh winters (storing it directly in the snow). Later, new methods emerged: smoking became the best technique for preserving meat...

Another well-known and still used method today is canning. This involves preserving pre-sterilized food in airtight containers (such as cans or jars). Sterilization is a preservation technique that destroys all germs and microbial spores by heating the food to high temperatures (over 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-Dried Pulled Pork ◀◀


It seems that freeze-drying food was already used by the Andes 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 circumvent unreliable refrigeration. Later, it was mainly used by NASA to provide varied and high-quality food stock to astronauts on missions.

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

Freeze-drying involves freezing the food and then dehydrating it to extract the water. The product takes up less space and just needs to be rehydrated to regain 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 low temperatures around -40°C.

2 - Sublimation of the frozen product: the frozen water rapidly evaporates thanks to an airless environment. The food gradually warms up in this environment. Once past the 0°C mark, the solid water cannot become liquid in an airless environment and goes directly to a gaseous state. Thus, the food is freeze-dried.

3 - Sealing of freeze-dried foods in packages to protect them from moisture and oxygen, thus ensuring long preservation. Some items can even be preserved for 25 years!

It is a method that is still very costly today as it consumes a lot of energy but offers many advantages over other preservation techniques.

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The advantages of freeze-drying

Freeze-drying is a method that can be used on all food products (even ice cream!)... These products are now consumed by people engaging in outdoor activities (Hiking, MTB, Sailing, Kayaking, Self-sufficiency racing, Trail running...) or others simply wanting to prepare a food reserve in case of a survival situation.

Here is why these people use 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, and flavor. Once rehydrated, the food products are like fresh.

- Shelf life: the shelf life of freeze-dried products is very long. When properly stored, food can be consumed for up to 25 years. Even after this period, the products remain consumable, and the flavors and nutritional values are almost as good as at the time 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 the food. It retains about 95% of the nutritional values of freeze-dried products. Other methods, like dehydration, retain only 60% of the nutritional values because the heat destroys some of the vitamins and minerals.

- Weight and space: once the water is removed from the food, it is very light. For example, vegetables, fruits, or dairy products have a water content exceeding 80%, cooked pasta contains about 70% water, fish and meats contain 65 to 70% water, and some products like butter contain very little water. Moreover, freeze-drying offers significant space savings, allowing for the storage of many products in your food reserve or transportation in your backpack.

- Preparation: freeze-dried meals are very quick to prepare; just rehydrate them with hot or cold water, depending on the recipes. It only takes a few minutes to enjoy them. Today, manufacturers can offer a very wide range of freeze-dried dishes. From breakfast to dessert, everything can be 'freeze-dried'. From aligot to paella, scrambled eggs to apple compote, it is now possible to eat healthy and varied even in the middle of the sea or on a mountain peak 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. While this article is dedicated to hikers, this equipment is also suitable for climbing, via ferrata, bikepacking, bushcraft, mountaineering, or packrafting enthusiasts.

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]lyophilise.com

We also have a showroom open Monday to Friday:

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