As a fellow backpacker, athlete, or active outdoorsy person, you know how vital the right food is to your success — especially when you’re on the trail or on the go.
The problem is finding time to source, cook, and pack food that’s lightweight, tastes great and is actually good for your body (the holy trinity of backpacking food!)
That’s why we’ve chosen to freeze-dry our meals instead of dehydrate them. Studies show that the biggest difference between fresh food and its freeze-dried counterpart is water since freeze-drying removes between 90 and 98% of the moisture from food. Industry tests show minimal nutrition loss in freeze-dried food and on average is 97% the same as food prior to drying.
Because freeze-drying is still a relatively new technique for food preservation, we’ve gathered some of our commonly asked questions to answer here!
Freeze-drying is one of the best preservation processes to keep the quality of the food near identical to fresh food; this is due to the sublimation of water under low temperatures. These two aspects (low temperature under vacuum and lack of water) stop almost all degradation in food.
The freeze-drying process doesn't make food healthy or unhealthy as freeze drying does not add anything to the food – freeze drying only removes the water content from the food. As I like to say, “Quality into the freeze dryer equals the quality out of the freeze dryer.” Simply put: if the food is healthy and delicious before being dried it will be healthy and delicious after being dried!
We do not add any chemicals or sulfites to our freeze-dried food. Sulfite is commonly added to dehydrated fruits and vegetables as a preservative for color and Vitamin C, but this additive changes the flavor and can cause digestion upset in some sensitive groups. We do not add anything onto our food to retain color or increase shelf life once the food is removed from the freeze dryers.
Freeze-drying doesn't affect the calorie count, the fiber content, or the overall amounts of minerals. It can make a difference with a few water soluble vitamins, such as folate and Vitamin C. But, most of the nutritional value will be maintained. Because the first part of freeze-drying involves freezing the food to a very cold temperature (usually to -40F or lower), any nutritional losses from this process would be the same as if you froze leftovers to eat next week.
Freeze-drying doesn't change the amount of fat, protein, carbohydrates or sugar either. The fluid content changes which is what makes the freeze dried food so light and airy!
Since fluid is removed during the freeze drying process, the weight of the food will be different when counting calories. Due to the solid state of water during the freeze-drying process, the structure and the shape of the food remains the same with minimal change in volume (eg if you place a banana in your freezer and remove once it is frozen, the banana is the same size and shape!) Because of this, freeze dried food has a very porous texture which allows it to reabsorb water so quickly and efficiently.
But when counting calories, remember that you can’t do a weight comparison! 100g of diced carrots will have a different calorie count than 100g of fresh carrots! In fact, 100g of fresh red bell pepper has approximately 40 calories. 100g of freeze dried red bell pepper has 430 calories! A pretty big difference if you’re only comparing weight.
This weight comparison is why freeze dried food is considered nutritionally dense. Going back to our red bell peppers, those 100g of dried bell peppers is actually comparable to over 1,000g of fresh red bell pepper. If you powdered those dried bell peppers, you’d have about ¼ cup of dried powder. Imagine sprinkling that on top of your morning bagel and cream cheese! That powder is so dense with calories, fibers, and vitamins!
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So next time you’re searching for lightweight, delicious, and nutritious food to fuel your backpacking, hunting, or other outdoor adventures, remember why freeze dried food is the winning choice!
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