If you are new to freeze drying, you’ll want to know what is good to freeze dry. We answer that question in this post as part of our series on freeze drying for the home. As it turns out an amazing number of raw, cooked and processed foods can be freeze dried at home with great results.
You may have tasted freeze dried candy since it is available and hugely popular right now. So what else can you freeze dry besides candy? In a nutshell, You can freeze dry a LOT of foods, other than candy. Meats, both raw and cooked, entire meals, soups, eggs, sauces, salsa, guacamole, fruits and vegetables, dairy products, and even herbs and spices all freeze dry very well. Want to try some other more exotic ideas? Freeze dry ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, cheese cakes and more!
Why Freeze Dry?
Freeze-drying is a unique food preservation method offering several benefits compared to freezing, canning, or dehydrating various foods. Freeze-drying retains a higher percentage of the original nutrients in foods compared to other preservation methods. It also preserves the natural flavors of fruits, vegetables, and other food items.
Benefits Of Freeze Drying Foods:
When thinking about what is good to freeze dry you need to think about your personal situation, your food storage and preservation goals and your food budget. Since most foods can be preserved through this method for a long time, freeze drying makes sense in the long run for many high value food items.
Freeze-drying also, to a large extent retains the color and texture of the food. This is particularly important for items like fruits and vegetables, where the appearance contributes to the overall enjoyment of the food.
And in all cases, when properly freeze dried these foods retain almost ALL their nutrients, have fantastic flavor and have a very long shelf life. Some freeze dried foods will last 25 or more years on your shelf. Freeze drying also makes foods light and easy to transport. Freeze dried foods can go camping, hiking or just be an easy way to eat a meal or snack at home. Freeze dry fresh foods from your garden, and create a pantry of freeze dried ingredients you can add to recipes as well.
As freeze drying at home becomes more widely used, home cooks are developing new recipes all the time for freeze dried foods and ingredients. If you’re looking for ideas about what is good to freeze dry head to social media and search for freeze drying. LOTs of groups are forming to share recipes and ideas.
Even more exciting, the increased interest in home freeze drying is driving new technological advances in this industry and new companies are entering the field of manufacturing home freeze dryers and creating competition which always benefits us, the consumers. As this process continues, even more foods will be on the what to freeze dry list.
What is Good to Freeze Dry?
Trying to stretch your food budget? Freeze dryers are expensive, you need to make it work for you so it pays for itself. Many people make and sell candy to help overcome the initial cost of the equipment. Never throw out leftovers when you have a freeze dryer, keep your freeze dryer in mind when food planning.
You can also use your freeze dryer to maximize your dollars by taking advantage of local gleaning associations, food sales and food sharing with family, friends and neighbors. What can you freeze dry that will leverage this wonderful machine? A lot of your options increase as you learn to source food frugally.
I have a neighbor that occasionally stops by with brown spotted organic bananas and other produce he gets from a local restaurant that will otherwise throw it out. I pick out what is still good to freeze dry. The rest he takes to his chickens. I can take the free gift of food, freeze dry it and share some back to them. A win for us both!
When thinking about what is good to freeze dry, remember freeze drying is a wonderful asset for home gardeners. Our garden produce is freeze dried into MANY recipes, including homemade marinara sauce, pumpkin puree, butternut and other squashes. Apple chips, strawberries, and Mashed potatoes freeze dry well too. And so many other fruits and vegetables go from our garden, through the freeze dryer, to the pantry, to the table. Just add water.
Light weight and easy to store Fabulous freeze dried food has a better taste than frozen or canned foods and much better nutritional value with NO freezer space required.
What Foods are Best for Freeze Drying?
What is good to freeze dry? Here’s a table that gives you a quick reference guide to tried and true foods to freeze dry.
|Foods that Freeze Dry Reliably
|Raw Fruits and Vegetables
|Most garden veggies will freeze dry very well. Freeze drying will preserve the flavor, nutrients and color.
|Make your own tomato sauces, pestos, Alfredo sauce, chili sauce, salsas, guacamoles and much much more. Then freeze dry them and make them into powder to reconstitute and add to your meals.
|Freeze dry up your leftovers or make a double batch of your favorite casseroles and freeze dry one. Some cooks make their own MREs (meals ready to eat). Perfect for camping.
|Soups and Stews
|Freeze dry homemade instant soups or stews.
|Hard cheeses, Milk, yogurt and sour cream can be freeze-dried as powders, shreds or cubes.
|Whisked raw whole eggs or cooked egg-based dishes, like frittatas, are fine to freeze dry IF your machine is designed for them. Newer freeze dryer machines like mine will process eggs fine. Refer to your manual.
|Meats and Seafood
|Maintains meat’s texture and flavor. You can freeze dry as either raw or cooked. High fat meats will take some prep for best results.
|Herbs and Spices
|Create your own spices blends, teas and herbal remedies straight from your own home grown pollinator garden.
|Candy to Freeze dry includes a LONG list of possibilities. Just remember, chocolate will not freeze dry well and very sweet candies can be difficult.
|Ice cream sandwiches, cheese cake and other sweet desserts can be freeze dried for novelty gifts, snacks or long term storage.
What Food Should NOT be Freeze Dried?
Should ALL foods be freeze dried? In general, high fat foods and high sugar foods are not the best candidates for freeze drying, but they often can be freeze dried with conditions.
Here are some foods that will not freeze dry well:
Do NOT try to freeze dry butter, peanut butter, honey, syrups, jams, mayonnaise and other mayo based condiments and dressings. And sadly, pure chocolate will just melt and bubble in your freeze dryer. However, all of these things can be mixed into other foods and freeze dried that way. Example: Raspberry swirl cheesecake will freeze dry but don’t try it with a thick topping of raspberry jam on top of the cheesecake. And cream cheese is not a good candidate for freeze drying all by itself, but will freeze dry fantastically as a cheesecake.
- High Sugar Content: All Foods with very high sugar content, such as some candies, like caramels or gummy bears or chocolate candies, some fruits and certain desserts, can become sticky and challenging to freeze-dry. You will have to experiment since different brands of candy and other sweets freeze dry differently. Some work great! A lot of it is about HOW you freeze dry them.
- Very Juicy Fruits: Fruits with high water content, like watermelon or pineapple will freeze-dry but will take a LOONG time due to their highly liquid nature, so it may not be worth it to you.
- Leafy Greens: Delicate Leafy greens like lettuce or spinach, or kale become brittle after freeze drying. This is fine if your looking for a crunchy snack, but not so great for salads.
- Raw Potatoes: Since Raw potatoes contain a high amount of water and starch they require Pre-cooking or blanching before freeze-drying for the best outcome. Cooked and mashed potatoes freeze dry wonderfully!
- Fried Foods: To freeze dry food that are deep-fried with a crispy texture is not recommended since they are saturated with oils. The results are not ideal.
- Avocado: Avocado contains high amounts of fat and water. I have freeze dried them alone and in guacamole and they do freeze dry fine. But it takes a long time. My suggestion is to powder your freeze dried avocados. I cubed a batch and they are very hard to properly rehydrate.
- Salami, pepperoni, raw bacon and other very fatty processed meats. I have freeze dried salami and pepperoni but I don’t recommend it. My freeze dryer got messy and the results were not great. Low fat meats like chicken, or fatty meats with the fat rendered out are your best choices. I have freeze dried both raw steak and raw hamburger. They freeze dried well, but I expect a shorter shelf life since fat tends to make the meat go rancid faster.
- Baked Goods: Yes you can freeze dry baked goods like bread, rolls and pizza dough. The problem is with reconstituting them. It’s not ideal. Better to bake these fresh and freeze them.
While these foods may present challenges, advancements in freeze-drying technology, home freeze dryer machines and methods and techniques of reconstitution are continually improving. I can tell you my Harvest Right Pro freeze dryer will do most of these foods. Your machine may not. Always refer to specific guidelines for your freeze-drying equipment and experiment cautiously with new types of foods.
- How Does Freeze Drying Work?
- Considering A Freeze Dryer for Home Use
- How to Make Freeze Dried Eggs
- The Complete Guide To Oxygen Absorbers
- Silica Gel Packets
- Freezing Zucchini
- Freezing Tomatoes Whole
- The Process of Freezing Blueberries
- How to Freeze Herbs
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