Curious Chefs Experiment with Freeze Drying

Some adventurous chefs have discovered us and the endless possibilities of freeze drying. We found this thread on eGullet – and were lucky enough to get to meet one of the chefs (code name “Chocolot”) in person. In fact, she’s been bringing us interesting things to try dehydrating. We can’t resist the challenge – or the goodies she brings – so we’ve been having fun with this group of folks. If you’re a curious chef, we thought you might enjoy some excerpts from this fascinating thread on an online forum on the Society for Culinary Arts & Letters website.

The thread was started by “Kerry”, a self-proclaimed food geek who relies on her collection of cylinders, beakers, flasks, thermometers, refractometers and other food-grade laboratory equipment in her tasty experiments:

I’ve been watching freeze driers on e-bay for about 10 years – seriously considered a couple of them – but they were rather huge – would have taken up the better part of the garage. They were also 220 V. I have 220 in my chocolate room – but there is a limit to the number of things I can plug in there. I discovered that a company in Utah was making a home unit – 110V – about the size of a small freezer. Well – conveniently Chocolot (another poster) lives in Utah and it just so happened she was heading to the area the day after I contacted her – so off she went to check this out for me. She was sent home with some samples of things they had dried that she then dipped in chocolate and returned to them. Pictures arrived – contacts were made – and the rest is history. Chocolot has been back there several times – getting the fellows who manufacture the units to freeze dry different products that she wants to play with. Bet it won’t be long before she has one too!

You can read the full thread to follow the interesting conjecture about what else might be fun to freeze dry. Wine? Ice cream sandwiches? Shrimp? Chocolot picks up the thread:

Off to Salt Lake City I go in search of her treasure. The guys at HarvestRight are really nice. They gave me the tour of the plant. It appears to be very well made and I reported back to Kerry. Next thing I know, the crazy woman has ordered one!! The best part is now I have an “in”. I take things down and they dry them for me. So far I have taken leftover ganache – I had visions of it just being poured on a tray, but somehow they managed to make mounds out of it. I tried rehydrating a piece. Not really successful. Next I will turn into a powder and try again. They have done cooked bacon – great for breaking up and putting on my Maple-Bacon piece for an upcoming Cowboy Festival. Fresh sliced peaches are wonderful. I turned them into a coarse powder and will make a peach-almond ganache. They gave me mini ice cream sandwiches that I enrobed in chocolate and returned to them. Very tasty, much like a crisp cookie. They gave me raspberries that I played with. I’ll post a pix. I enrobed strawberries. I actually like them better than fresh, but then I am not a fan of strawberries in chocolate. I want them to do cream cheese – they said it works great. I will turn into a powder and make a cheesecake ganache.

We have a great time meeting chefs and adventurous cooks who are using our freeze dryers to come up with interesting new combinations. Do you have a story? Share it with us!

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