Providing healthy, fresh food to your family can be challenging—especially when your life is full of deadlines, carpools, homework, after-school activities, and everyday chores. Canning and dehydrating food helps, but each of those processes robs food of nutritional value and even when you freeze your food to retain the nutrition, it comes with an expiration date.
Enter freeze drying. This is the answer to preserving nearly every kind of food without sacrificing flavor, color, or nutrition—and the best part is that freeze-dried foods can last from 15 to 25 years on your pantry shelf. Fruits and vegetables are a natural fit for freeze drying, but freeze drying goes far beyond the produce section.
You might not be able to can or dehydrate that leftover package of shredded mozzarella or Grandma’s homemade strawberry ice cream, but freeze drying can preserve those indulgent flavors for years to come. If you’ve ever regretted having to toss that last scoop of yogurt or an overripe avocado, regret no more. Here are three surprising foods that you can hold on to thanks to freeze drying – and how to best enjoy them.
Ice Cream & Greek Yogurt
We all know that dairy comes with an expiration date, and if we don’t get all of our favorite yogurt finished before that deadline, we’re out of luck. But thanks to freeze drying, you can enjoy every last ounce of your favorite ice cream or Greek yogurt. Because freeze drying preserves the by first freezing it to -30 and -50 degrees, then slowly sublimates (evaporates) out the liquid in a vacuum state, you can literally freeze dry a scoop of ice cream and save it for later. In fact, the ice cream in this photo has already been freeze dried.
Freeze-dried ice cream isn’t as soft as the initial creamy scoop, but it will have the same decadent taste. You’ll experience a more airy, meringue-like texture but your tongue will have a hard time telling the difference as the ice cream dissolves in your mouth.
When it comes to yogurt, freeze drying gives you the chance to turn your favorite coconut or lemon treat into a flavor-packed powder to add to smoothies, pancakes, or give an extra zing to your famous pound cake. And if there are kids at home, try freeze drying dollops of yogurt to offer as a great on-the-go snack that’s healthy and delicious.
Freeze drying makes it possible for you to prolong the life of your favorite leafy greens while simultaneously turning them into delicious snack food. Freeze-dried kale with a spritz of olive oil and some seasonings makes a perfect, healthy chip. Kale and spinach can also be re-hydrated by tossing them in your favorite soup or casserole. Or, with just a spritz of water from a squirt bottle, they can be tossed with berries and nuts to make a perfect salad.
Now you don’t have to worry about planting too many greens in your garden, because freeze drying lets you use every last bit your harvest. And you’ll be able to enjoy the taste and health benefits of garden-fresh greens all year long. As a bonus, you can add an extra punch to your morning smoothie. Just skip sprinkle in a little freeze-dried kale powder to amp up your nutritional intake.
Eggs (raw and cooked)
Very few foods provide the nutrition that’s contained in one, small egg. Freeze drying makes it possible to preserve those nutrients and proteins in a far less fragile state. Cooked or raw scrambled eggs are a perfect fit for freeze drying. For example, raw eggs can be whisked, freeze dried and kept in their powdered form to used in all baking and cooking recipes (2 tablespoons of egg powder equals one egg). Or, eggs can be freeze dried in their scrambled state and easily re-hydrated with a little water in a hot skillet.
With a freeze dryer, you’ll never have to throw out old eggs again, and you’ll always be prepared for an impromptu brunch or get-together with blueberry muffins, waffles or a soufflé.
Meats (raw and cooked)
Meat is quite easy to freeze dry. It doesn’t take long, and it turns out great. It doesn’t matter whether the meat has been cooked or is raw, just place thick or thinly sliced pieces on your trays and let the freeze dryer do the rest. It will beep at you when it is done. Package meats with an oxygen absorber to help it last 10 to 15 years.
The best thing is that when you re-hydrate the meat, it will look the same as it did before you freeze dried it and it will have all its nutritional value. If it has been cooked prior to drying, you can easily submerging the meat in water, pat it off with a paper towel and voila — it’s ready to put on sandwiches, in soups, casseroles or by itself on a plate with freeze-dried mashed potatoes and gravy.
If the food was freeze-dried while raw, you can submerge the food in water for a few minutes, pat it dry and grill, bake, or fry it. You will be surprised to find that it is great—just as if you had used fresh raw meat.
Have you tried freeze drying any of these foods? How did it go?