Freeze-Dried Fruit & Veggies – Process, Benefits and Uses
The freeze-drying process for fruit and veggies is a 24-36 hour operation of extracting water from a fruit or a vegetable. This process is very different from drying, canning or freezing, and the resulting fruit also has a very different taste, texture and nutritional content. Canned or dried fruit and veggies don’t have the same appeal as fresh, and the process does remove some of their vital nutrients. While produce that is frozen traditionally retains most of its nutrients, it can lose its texture, which is especially true of certain fruits, such as strawberries which become soft when thawed. According to Harvest Right, the manufacturer of freeze-dried equipment, 97% of nutrients in freeze-dried fruit and vegetables remain intact, resulting in crunchiness and intense flavour.
- The process starts by freezing fruit or vegetables entirely, so the water turns into ice.
Then air is removed (vacuumed) out of the room, which decreases the atmospheric pressure.
- Ice then turns into gas.
- The gas then evaporates while leaving the structure intact.
This process does not require the use of any oil, preservatives or sugars, and the resulting product has only one ingredient – the fruit or vegetable itself.
Freeze-drying process history
South American natives are believed to have been the first to discover freeze-drying, probably before the rise of the Inca Empire. They froze potatoes in the snow and then dried them in the sun. Today, you can still eat chuño—a freeze-dried potato product, in Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, and Peru. The modern use of freeze-drying began during World War II when a process of freeze-drying was developed to transport vital medicine to the troops without spoilage.
Benefits of freeze-dried fruit and vegetable
We all know that natural foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables are the best nutritional choices; unfortunately, they are not always the most convenient choices because they can spoil quickly, especially items such as raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries. Once cut for eating, raw vegetables often need refrigerating.
Freeze-dried fruit and vegetables, on the other hand, have a very long shelf life since there is no moisture so the bacteria cannot develop, as it needs moisture to grow, and they don’t have to be kept in the fridge. However, if exposed to air for a few hours, this type of fruit or vegetable will become soft. Therefore, we recommend to consume them quickly or purchase them in resealable packs so that you can have some now and some later.
More than just snacks
In addition to freeze-dried fruit being an excellent healthy snack, they also have many other practical uses:
Baking. Freeze-dried fruit is dry so that they will taste different in muffins or cakes than fresh fruit, so you will need to add more moisture like cream, butter or coconut oil.
Toppings. You can use whole fruit or pieces as toppings on ice cream, yoghurt, breakfast cereal or pancakes.
Shakes. You can add them to your milkshakes, smoothies or protein shakes for added nutrition, taste and colour.
Freeze-Dried Fruit Combinations
You can combine them with other fruit, different spices, nuts, alcoholic beverages, chocolate and more. The Flavour Chart is an excellent source to see fruit combinations. For example, Mango combines well other fruit like banana, blackberry or strawberry, and spices like anise, cinnamon, clove, ginger, mint, peppermint, rose water and vanilla. It goes well with Kirsch, Rum, Sauternes and White Wine. You probably already knew that it combines well with white chocolate, caramel and hazelnut, but did you know that it goes well with brie and macadamia?
Freeze-dried fruits are excellent healthy snacks to buy, having an unusually crunchy taste and intense flavour. In addition to having them as healthy snacks, you can also experiment with them and use them for baking, as toppings or adding them your smoothies or milkshakes.