FREEZE-DRIED FOODS

    Freeze-dried foods have become increasingly popular as storage foods in recent years. Freeze-dried (FD) foods are created when fresh or cooked foods are first flash frozen. Moisture is removed in a vacuum chamber and sublimated to keep it from turning to liquid. The cell structure of the food remains the same and much of the freshness, nutrients and color are retained. The final product is a lightweight food that can be stored for many years.

    Freeze-dried foods have many advantages:
• FD foods have a long shelf life when properly stored. Some can be stored as long as 25 years but many are best if used in 5 to 7 years.
• FD food is lightweight. It is 75% to 90% lighter than the fresh food equivalent.
• FD food is available in a large variety of foods both as single foods and meals.
• FD food rehydrates quickly.
• FD food looks and tastes very much like fresh or frozen food products after it is rehydrated.
• FD food is quick and easy to prepare.

    In spite of the many advantages, FD food also has disadvantages:
• FD food is very expensive, comparatively.
• Most FD food comes in #10 cans which should be used within 2 weeks after opening for best quality and nutrition.
• Many FD foods contain additives.
• FD food is not easily replaced in many areas of the country or world. It is locally unsustainable for most.
• FD food cannot be reproduced at home.

    Dehydrated food is a similar product but the moisture is removed by slowly drying the food. A comparison of dehydrated and freeze-dried foods is in the following chart:

DEHYDRATED FREEZE-DRIED
Water is slowly removed Food is quickly frozen and water removed
Requires a relatively small amount of shelf space Requires more shelf space since the volume is not significantly reduced
Heavier because it is dense Lightweight
Takes longer to absorb water Can absorb water in about 10 minutes
Rehydrated doesn't always resemble fresh Rehydrated often resembles fresh
Many foods can be eaten in the dehydrated state Many foods can be eaten in the freeze dried state

Usually individual foods

Individual foods and also meals

Variety somewhat limited

Wider variety available
More easily replaced Not as readily available

Can be produced at home

Cannot be produced at home

More affordable

More expensive

    The expense of freeze-dried foods is a distinct disadvantage as can been seen in the following chart. The comparisons are based on information found in the succeeding chart which lists prices of half-cup servings of freeze-dried foods, dehydrated foods, home canned food and “basic” foundational storage foods.

  Home Canned Freeze Dried Basic Foods
Turkey .40 1.70  
Sausage crumbles .40 1.75  
Roast beef .51 1.83  
Ground beef .43 1.79  
White chicken .48 1.50  
Potatoes .09 .78  
Peaches .18 1.16  
Mangos .15 .96  
Blackberries .48 1.42  
Beefy chili with beans vs. pinto beans + ground beef   1.72 .04 + .22 = .26
Tomato pasta with chicken vs. spaghetti + chicken   1.58 .08 + .24 = .32
Dijon rice with chicken vs. rice + chicken   1.58 .03 + .24 = .27

Cost of One-half Cup of Basic Food Storage Foods*,
Home Canned Foods#, Dehydrated+ and
Freeze Dried Foods (FD)+

         
  Weight of
#10 can
Price # 1/2 cup
servings per can
Cost/
serving
Basic Foods        
Black beans 5.5 lbs $4.55 66 .07
Pinto beans 5.2 lbs $4.70 62 .08
White beans 5.3 lbs $4.25 64 .07
Powdered milk 4.1 lbs $8.60 164 .05
White rice 5.7 lbs $4.00 86 .05
Wheat 5.8 lbs $3.50 42 flour
77 whole
.08
.05
Macaroni 3.4 lbs $4.30 31 .14
Quick oats 2.6 lbs $2.50 45 .06
Regular oats 2.7 lbs $2.50 45 .06
Spaghetti 4.3 lbs $4.95 34 .15
White flour 4.8 lbs $3.40 34 .10
         
Entrees        
Dried Baked Potato Cheese Soup 4.15 lbs $41.39 96 .43
FD Beefy Chili with Beans 2.25 lbs $41.19 24 1.72
Dried Broccoli Cheese Soup 4.15 lbs $41.89 96 .44
Dried Cheesy Potatoes with Chives 2.25 lbs $28.69 36 .80
Dried Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup 4.10 lbs $29.19 86 .34
FD Creamy Tomato Pasta with Chicken 1.88 lbs $37.89 24 1.58
FD Curry Rice with Chicken 2.03 lbs $37.89 24 1.58
FD Dijon Rice with Chicken 2.44 lbs $37.89 24 1.58
FD BBQ Rice and Beans with Chicken 2.63 lbs $41.39 24 1.72
FD Rice with Sweet Pepper Beef Steak 2.27 lbs $36.19 24 1.51
Dried Vegetable Risotto 2.25 lbs $30.39 24 1.27
         
Meat        
FD turkey 20 ounces $42.49 25 1.70
Home canned turkey @ .99/lb bone-in pint $  1.60 4 .40
FD sausage crumbles 24 ounces $43.79 25 1.75
Home canned sausage @ $2.00/lb pint $  1.59 4 .40
FD roast beef 22 ounces $45.69 25 1.83
Home canned beef roast @ $1.99/lb pint $  2.04 4 .51
FD ground beef 29 ounces $44.69 25 1.79
Home canned ground beef @ $1.99/lb pint $  1.70 4 .43
FD white chicken 17 ounces $37.49 25 1.50
Home canned chicken @ $1.49/lb pint $  1.66 4 .42
Home canned chicken @ $1.99/lb pint $  2.16 4 .54
         
Vegetables        
FD broccoli 7 ounces $19.19 25 .77
FD cauliflower 3 ounces $12.99 25 .52
Dehydrated carrots 48 ounces $17.09 24.5 .70
Home canned carrots @ .40/lb pint $   .44 4 .11
FD spinach 6 ounces $17.69 25 .71
FD green beans 5 ounces $15.99 25 .64
FD peas 20 ounces $21.29 25 .85
FD potatoes 14 ounces $19.49 25 .78
Dehydrated potatoes 42.4 ounces $12.89 25 .52
Home canned potatoes @ .30/lb pint $   .37 4 .09
FD corn 16 ounces $19.09 25 .76
         
Fruit        
FD bananas 19 ounces $28.79 25 1.15
FD blueberries 17 ounces $39.89 25 1.60
FD Mandarin oranges 6 ounces $23.29 25 .93
FD peaches 9 ounces $29.09 25 1.16
Home canned peaches @ .59/lb pint $   .60 4 .15
Home canned peaches @ .88/lb pint $   .80 4 .20
FD pears 10 ounces $29.89 25 1.20
FD pineapple 19 ounces $37.39 25 1.50
Dehydrated pineapple 56 ounces $18.69 20.5 .91
Home canned pineapple @ $1.99 each pint $   .97 4 .24
FD strawberries 9 ounces $26.69 25 1.07
FD mangos 13 ounces $23.99 25 .96
Home canned mangos @ 3/$1 pint $   .61 4 .15
FD blackberries 14 ounces $35.49 25 1.42
Home canned blackberries @ $3.50/lb pint $1.92 4 .48

*Basic storage foods are from the LDS Home Storage Centers. Number of servings in cans from the LDS Home Storage Center are based on weight/volume equivalency charts in Pantry Cooking: Unlocking Your Pantry’s Potential by Cheryl Driggs. Prices are as of May 2011.

+Freeze dried and dehydrated foods are from Shelf Reliance. Number of servings of FD foods are based on a #10 can volume being 12-3/4 cups, assumes that the cans are completely full and that the volume of the freeze dried food does not significantly increase upon rehydration. Number of servings of dehydrated foods are according to can label. Shelf Reliance was chosen for this study because of the variety of FD foods available and comparable pricing to other popular sources for FD foods.  Prices are as of May 2011.

#Home canned prices include one canning lid at .17 each. Pounds/amounts per jar are based on personal home canning experience in 2008-2011.

    Too many people equate #10 cans of freeze dried and dehydrated food (including powdered eggs) with food storage. These can be a part of food storage after the basics are stored but are not a requirement and no one should give the impression that they are required. Freeze-dried and dehydrated food is a supplement to, not a replacement for, basic foods. It is not the long-term storage we have been counseled to have.

    Freeze-dried food is locally unsustainable for most. When you become dependent on freeze-dried foods, you become dependent on something you will never be able to create yourself that is not readily available in most communities. Freeze dried food creates a false sense of preparedness and takes the frugality and self-reliance out of food storage.

    Freeze-dried food is a good supplement when the budget allows but think twice before storing only freeze-dried foods or relying heavily on them in your food storage.  There are wiser ways to have your food storage.  A year's supply of freeze dried food is the world's answer to food storage, not God's.