Why Buy Freeze Dried Food?
One of the great benefits of freeze-dried food is that it's easy to use. All you have to do is add hot water. Imagine mixing water with a pouch of food and having ready-to-eat Western Chili a few minutes later. It's that simple. For some foods, like fruits and vegetables, they can be eaten dry for a pleasant crunch. The fruit is also great in trail mix.
Freeze-dried food tastes wonderful, and it's because the processing is very gentle on the food. Some preservation processes significantly alter the food, but that's not the case with freeze-drying. Vitamins, enzymes, and phytochemicals are well preserved. Even the color and shape of the food are intact because the food's cell structure is unharmed during processing.
Through the years, the process of freeze-drying has been refined and perfected, leading to an increased shelf life. Freeze-dried food, if stored properly, can stay fresh for up to 25 years. That's great news for anyone who does not want to rotate through food storage each month. You can just buy some delicious food now and stop worrying about it for a quarter of a century. Unless you're a doctor, that's more years than you spent in school. In fact, if you buy a freeze-dried food supply and have a newborn child this year, you could have a grandchild by the time you need to think about buying more food storage. Yeah, it lasts that long.
Freeze-dried food is a convenient way to prepare for an emergency, and there are many reasons why it has gained such popularity and widespread use throughout the years.
For those of you who care, the first known instance of freeze drying was actually in the 13th century. Ancient Incan tribes living in the Andes Mountains freeze dried potatoes by leaving them out to freeze overnight, then exposing them to the blazing sun the next day. They called these potatoes Chuño, which will be important to know if you ever end up on Jeapardy. "I'll take 'Obscure Potatoes' for 200, Alex."
The best way to store food long-term is to keep it in a cool, dry place. Keeping it out of direct sunlight and extreme temperatures will help it reach its intended shelf life. Other than that, no special care is necessary. Our food is stored in durable pouches, which are stored in sturdy buckets to keep them safe. The buckets are stackable to make them easier to store.
Perfect for Emergencies
There are several reasons you may need food for an emergency. Natural distasters, economic trouble, and political turbulance can all cause big changes in the world. When that happens, it's good to be able to rely on yourself to supply food. The average grocery store only carries about 72 hours worth of food, and in the event of an emergency, that food can be cleared out very quickly. Sometimes even the anticipation of a big storm can clear out grocery shelves. When that happens, knowing that you have your own store of food safely tucked away will bring you invaluable peace of mind.
Of course, water is also essential to being prepared for an emergency. It is recommended to store 1 gallon/day for each person in your family. If you live near a natural water source, you may also consider purchasing a filter. You never know when that dirty stream by your house will become your only water source.
The Freeze-Drying Process
The process is almost as straight forward as the name suggests. In a nutshell, the food is frozen, and then it's dried. Freeze dried.
Ok, so you probably wanted a better explanation than that. Fair enough. The reason this process is used is because water is a solvent. That just means it's really good at breaking down different materials, including foods. Taking the water out of food helps it last longer. Technically, all you would need to do to remove the water is put the food near a fan with warm air. That's how standard food dehydrating works. However, freeze-drying is a little different. We'll get all scientific about it below.
After the food is frozen, it's placed in a low air-pressure chamber where warm air is added. At this point, you'd expect the ice to melt, and then ultimately evaporate. However, because the food is in a vacuum-like environment, the ice doesn't melt at all. It goes directly from the solid phase to the gas phase, much like a frozen burrito. This process is called sublimation, which is basically evaporation's more attractive sister–a fact that evaporation knows and resents.
Sublimation is useful to the food preservation process because it allows the water to gently escape the food without doing any damage. It's kind of like having a security guard escort a recently fired employee out of the office. Because the water leaves so gracefully, the food retains it's natural shape and flavor. Where some foods would be completely mangled by regular dehydration, they come out looking beautiful through freeze-drying. Other foods dehydrate rather well though, so each method has its place.
How Fresh is Freeze-Dried Food?
When fruits and vegetables are sold in grocery stores, they must be picked early and left to ripen while sitting at the store. With freeze-drying, fruits and vegetables can be picked at the peak of their ripeness, and then immediately frozen to preserve their fresh qualities. When you add water to the freeze dried produce, it should taste as good or better than what you'd buy at the store. And, because of the wonders of sublimation, the water does not have a chance to react with the foods chemicals and alter its nutritional quality.