The Pros and Cons of Freeze Drying in Comparison to other types of Food Preservation
When it comes to preserving food, there are a variety of methods to choose from. Some of the most popular include canning, dehydrating, freezing, and freeze drying. Each of these techniques has its own unique advantages and disadvantages.
In this blog post, we're going to take a closer look at freeze drying and compare it to other methods of food preservation.
Freeze-Drying: How it Works
The process involves freezing the food, then placing it in a vacuum chamber and exposing it to low heat. This causes the ice in the food to evaporate, leaving behind a dry, lightweight product that can be stored for long periods of time. Up to 25 years in fact!
Pros of Freeze-Drying
One of the main advantages of freeze drying is that it preserves the nutritional content of the food better than other methods as well as the fact that it is extremely lightweight. Because the process involves removing water from the food without applying heat, it can help to retain vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that might be lost through other preservation methods, such as dehydration.
Another benefit of freeze drying is that it can help to preserve the flavour and texture of the food. Because the food is freeze dried in its raw state, it retains its natural taste and texture when rehydrated.
Freeze-dried foods are also a great option for reducing food waste. The process of freeze-drying extends the shelf life of food products and can help prevent spoilage and waste. Additionally, freeze-dried foods are lightweight and easy to transport, making them a great option for emergency preparedness or outdoor activities like camping and hiking.
Cons of Freeze-Drying
One of the main drawbacks of freeze-drying is the cost. The process requires specialised equipment and can be expensive compared to other preservation methods. Additionally, the process of freezing and then drying the food can take several hours or even days, depending on the type of food being preserved.
Comparing Freeze-Drying to Other Preservation Methods
So, how does freeze drying stack up against other methods of food preservation? Let's take a look:
Canning: Canned foods are often less expensive than freeze dried foods and can be easier to find in grocery stores. However, canned foods may contain preservatives or added sugars that freeze dried foods do not. Additionally, canned foods may not retain their nutritional content as effectively as freeze dried foods do.
Dehydrating: Dehydrated foods are often less expensive than freeze dried foods and can be made at home with a dehydrator. However, dehydrated foods may be less nutritious than freeze dried foods because they lose more nutrients during the drying process due to heat exposure. Additionally, the texture and flavour of dehydrated foods are different from fresh foods.
Freezing: Frozen foods are often less expensive than freeze dried foods and can be found in most grocery stores. However, frozen foods can take up a lot of space in a freezer and may not be as lightweight or convenient for outdoor activities. Additionally, the nutritional content of frozen foods can degrade over time, especially if the food is not stored properly. Freezing your food is especially not convenient if you live in South Africa, with various stages of load shedding.
Environmental Impact of Freeze Dried Food
One important factor to consider is the environmental impact of each preservation method. While freeze drying is known for its long shelf life, it also requires energy to run the specialised equipment and can have a higher carbon footprint than other methods. Forever Fresh has combated this effect by utilising solar power to manufacture our freeze dried food.
Shelf Life Considerations
It's also important to think about the shelf life of different preservation methods. While freeze dried foods can be stored for a long time, other methods may have a shorter shelf life. For example, canned foods typically have a shelf life of 1-2 years, while dehydrated foods can last up to 6 months. This may impact your decision depending on how long you need to store the food.
Impacts of Freeze Dried Food on Food Waste
Another benefit of freeze drying is that it can help to reduce food waste. By extending the shelf life of food products, freeze drying can help to prevent food from going bad and being thrown away. This is especially important given the large amounts of food waste that occur in many parts of the world.
|Freeze-Dried Food||Dehydrated Food||Canned Food|
|Long Shelf Life||*** Up to 25 years||*Up to 1 year||**Up to 5 years|
|Drying Process||***Specialised Cold Vacuum||**Basic Heat or Air||*N/A|
|Nutritional Content||***98% retention of nutrients||*Up to 50% Nutrient loss||**Variable Nutrient loss|
|Convenience||**Quick rehydration, (5-15min)||*Slow rehydration (30min+)||***Ready to eat, but heavier|
|Weight||***Ultra Lightweight||**Lightweight||*Heavier due to packaging and liquid|
|Cost||*Higher initial cost||**Moderate cost||***Lower cost|
|Taste & Texture||***Close to original taste and texture||*Altered taste & chewy texture||**Variable taste and texture|
|Storage Space||***Compact and stackable||**Compact and stackable||*Bulky and heavier|
|Water Content||***Almost none||**Low||*High|
|Portability||***Highly portable||**Portable||*Less portable due to weight and packaging|
|COMPARATIVE SCORE||27 / 30||16 / 30||17 / 30|
Overall, while all preservation methods have merit, freeze drying is especially effective method if you prioritise nutritional content, flavour retention, shelf life and reducing food waste as well as needing to make considerations of weight, calorie count and ease of preparation.