When talking about freeze-dried food with someone, it usually isn’t very long before a question about freeze-dried ice cream comes up. Any space-loving kid can tell you the reason everyone has heard of freeze-dried ice cream is because astronauts love to eat it. Also known as astronaut ice cream or space ice cream, freeze-dried ice cream was developed by the Whirlpool Corporation under contract to NASA for the Apollo missions. However, it was most likely never actually used on any space missions.
In 2016, journalist Phil Edwards with vox.com dived through official NASA transcripts looking for any mention of freeze-dried ice cream in space. He never found any evidence. According to most accounts, the Apollo 7 mission was the only mission to have had freeze-dried ice cream, so he also talked to Walt Cunningham, the sole surviving member of that crew. He said he “never had the stuff.” Jennifer Levasseur, museum curator at the National Air and Space Museum believes that freeze-dried ice cream probably never flew in any actual missions. She thinks it was developed and tested on the ground but, eventually, ended up being rejected for flight.
So how did freeze-dried ice cream become synonymous with space travel? Years after the Apollo mission, museum gift shops started marketing freeze-dried ice cream as astronaut ice cream and it didn’t take long for the freeze-dried treat to be connected with floating astronauts in space.
But just because Buzz Aldrin and Neal Armstrong never ate freeze-dried ice cream doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this crunchy, delicious snack. Freeze dried ice cream sandwiches are probably everyone’s favorite treat when they start experimenting with their Harvest Right home freeze dryer. Whether you choose a full-fat brand or a reduced calorie brand, freeze drying ice cream sandwiches means you can enjoy this creamy, nostalgic treat without having to have a freezer nearby.
To freeze dry ice cream sandwiches, start the freeze dryer while it’s empty so it gets really cold – about 30 minutes. Cut the ice cream sandwiches into bite size pieces, or, place your sandwiches on the trays while still in the plastic wrap (snip one side open). Once freeze dried, store them in Mylar bags with an oxygen absorber and you’ll have ice cream sandwiches wherever you go.