Check the backpack of any hiking aficionado and no doubt, you will come across a few packs of freeze-dried food packed carefully. The debate about whether freeze dried food is as healthy as it claims or not has been around for years. We take a closer look at whether freeze-dried food deserve all the hype and whether it’s worth buying.
How Good Or Bad Is It Really?
To answer that, let’s take a look at what exactly is categorized as freeze-dried food. Actual perishable food is first frozen and then placed in a nitrogen sealed vacuum pack that helps to eliminate any traces of moisture from both water and oxygen. In order to ensure that not even the smallest water molecule remains in the food, they undergo a process called secondary drying.
This is important because, moisture content is what leads to the spoiling of food in the first place. For example, a fruit that is exposed to air will spoil faster than one that has been stored using cling wrap.
It’s Healthier Than Most Other Options
Freeze dried food is often confused with dehydrated food but there’s no doubt that the former is actually the healthier option. Not only are they lighter in weight, but they also have higher nutrient content and most importantly, do not compromise on taste either.
One interesting fact is that this process of storing or preserving perishable food isn’t actually new and ancient civilizations like the Incas used the same process (minus state of the art machinery of course) to freeze dry potatoes and meat.
To determine whether nutrients remained untouched in freeze-dried food, a study was conducted using freeze-dried berries. It was found that they retained close to 90% of health boosting anthocyanins- the same antioxidants which are found in red wine and which are believed to prevent cancer. However, it was also established that some vitamins such as C and E became depleted during the freeze-drying process itself.
The Many Pros Of Freeze Dried Food
With the availability of so many food brands that primarily focus on freeze-dried food meals, it’s obvious that there’s a huge demand for ready to eat food on the go. Here are a few reasons why freeze-dried food scores over other forms of preserved food.
Let’s be honest- if you’re planning a road trip or even an outdoor trip, taking along fresh food can be quite cumbersome. On the other hand, packing a few packs of freeze-dried food to take along, ensures that there are no leakages and most importantly, you can enjoy the closest thing to a fresh hot meal whenever you choose.
No Compromise On Nutrition
So, the best part about freeze-fried food is that there is no compromise on nutrition at all. Plus, there is no use of any artificial chemicals, preservatives or other synthetic ingredients which are more harmful than good for the human body. Only real fruits, veggies and meat are used which gives your body the fuel it needs.
As Real As It Can Get
Freeze-drying isn’t the only method of drying food as we know it, that is available. But it is by far the healthiest. The entire process ensures that the natural color of the product being freeze-dried is retained without any change. Plus, once this product is reheated, the taste and aroma is as real as the real produce.
The Form Can Vary
All freeze-dried food need not necessarily be in a solid state. It could be in the shape of the actual produce or could also be ground and blended to a fine powder like form. Powders, in fact can be further mixed with other blends and ingredients to increase the nutritional profile of the end product.
Can Be Used In Many Ways
Whether we are aware of it or not, freeze-dried fruits and veggies are already a part of our daily meals. For instance, many breakfast cereals contain freeze-dried fruit and berries which can be consumed in both a hot or cold state. Freeze-fried whole snacks mixed with seeds and nuts are considered a healthier alternative to snacking on junk food. Powders are also often added to health beverages to increase flavor.
Longer Shelf Life
Once moisture is removed, any room for the further growth of bacteria is eliminated. This means that the food can last for a much longer period and can even be eaten after a period of twenty years or more. Considering that this is achieved without the addition of preservatives, that says a lot about the nutrition content!
The Best Tasting Freeze-Dried Food Options For You
There’s no shortage of brands when it comes to freeze-dried food, but here are the best sellers that loyal customers swear by:
- Good To-Go has plenty of great tasting meals but the Thai Curry has just 380 calories, is gluten free and scores big on deliciousness. Some even say that hikers wouldn’t mind eating this for days together.
- Mountain House is well-known for their tasty meals which usually have two servings but if you’re in the mood for a filling breakfast, then don’t miss out on the Breakfast Skillet which has eggs, has browns and patty.
- Wild Zora Paleo-Meals -To-Go have single serving portions which are gluten free, soy-free, milk-free, grain-free and which don’t scrimp on protein. Their Mountain Beef Stew is highly recommended.
- Packit Gourmet is well-known for their focus on making food as nutritionally rich as possible without compromising on much loved homely flavors. Great seasoning, lean meat and added condiments like olive oil make each meal extra yum. Try their Texas State Fair Chili.
- Next Mile Meals are keto friendly and that makes it the ideal grub for all sorts fo outdoor adventures. They are low in carbs yet have healthy fats and high protein content. The meals have more calories naturally but are healthy too. Flavors like chicken and broccoli are hot favorites.
- Wise Food is known for their meals that last really long, like for up to 25 years. That’s’ because they have a special packaging that protects any food from oxygen and moisture. They also sell food that retains its freshness for up to seven years.
How Long Does Freeze Dried Food Actually Last For?
The reason why freeze-dried foods are so popular when it comes to packing food for travel is because of their shelf life. However, the term shelf life can also mean two things:
Best If Used By– Many perishable products carry this sort of expiry date and this is an indication of the actual length of time in which the taste and nutrition content are not affected. Most products usually carry a date that could range from a few weeks to a few years depending on the product type.
Life Sustaining– This date refers to the length of time during which the product stays edible and doesn’t spoil. Most foods that contain preservatives or which are nitrogen sealed carry this specific date which could range from a tine period of just a few years to a couple of decades.
The actual longevity of a freeze-dried product depends on how well the product has been stored and on four other factors-
Oxygen: Oxygen molecules in the air can have a negative impact on nutrition, flavor and even color of the food. Hence, ensuring that the airtight seal is not broken but remains intact is so crucial.
Moisture: Moisture creates an environment which provides the ideal breeding ground for bacteria, which in turn will spoil the food and reduce shelf life.
Light: Exposure to light can breakdown meat proteins and other nutrients in food which could lead to discoloration.
Temperature: Food that is stored in extreme temperatures will deteriorate faster and that could have a big impact on the color and even its odor.
Here’s a fun fact- many of the food storage and freeze-dried food companies that we know today were started to fulfil the dietary requirements of the Mormon community. Today, there are so many dietary options available as well as a variety of cuisines to cater to everyone’s tastebuds. Freeze-dried foods are without a doubt a great resource for hikers when you plan your next vacation.