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The Main Differences Between Freeze-Dried & Dehydrated Food

Monday, 03 June 2013 21:34 Written by  Chett Wright

Don’t know the difference between freeze-dried and dehydrated food? That’s okay, we are here to help, and you are not alone. Many people aren’t aware of the differences and similarities between the two. It is important to be educated on this if you are going to be storing either in your home food storage supply, so that you know how to use each tastefully in your food storage and cooking. Knowing more about the products can also help you to make a more educated decision on what to buy for your family’s needs. In this article we outline the 8 major differences between freeze-dried and dehydrated food, so that you have the know-how to do just that. 


1. Processes. The process by which each type of food is made is very different. Freeze-dried food is flash frozen and then put in a vacuum container causing the water to vaporize, and leaving the food item with 98% of its water removed. It is then packaged in an air-tight container to ensure freshness. Dehydrating a product is much different because foods are heated to extremely high temperatures. This causes the water in the food to evaporate, leaving the food item with 75% of its water removed. These differences in process mean that both food types have different functions in your food storage. 

2. Shelf-Life. The two types of food are very different in this department mainly because of the way they are made in the first place. Freeze-dried food lasts a lot longer without expiring because the process leaves it with only 2% (or less) of its’ original water amount. On average, these types of food items tend to last between 20 and 30 years. Dehydrated foods still have 25% of its original water left in it, so they cannot stay safely edible for nearly as long. They typically last between 1 and 8 years. Although this seems short compared to freeze-dried, it is still a pretty good amount of time for a snack food item to be stored for. 

3. Additives. The process of freeze-drying foods a makes adding extra ingredients unnecessary, so freeze-dried food usually doesn’t have any additives at all. Manufacturers of dehydrated foods, however, often have to include additives in their products. They usually need to add salt, sugar, or other preservatives to make dehydrated food. The list of what was added would be a smart thing to check before buying if anyone in your family has any dietary restrictions.

4. Nutrition. Because manufacturers have mastered the science of freeze-drying food, they are able to produce freeze dried food in a way that retains all the nutrients that the food had in its’ original form. Unfortunately, dehydrated foods are not as impressive in the nutrition department. Dehydrated food loses up to 50% of the foods’ nutrients because of the heat that the food is put under in the process.

5. Taste & Texture. When you first open a package of freeze-dried food, you might not believe that it is real food. Before it is prepared, freeze dried food has a muted coloring and a dry, powdery texture. But once water is added, the food has its’ original look, texture, and taste. Dehydrated food looks and tastes different than it was before the dehydration process took place. It also usually has a chewy, rubbery texture.

6. Re-Hydrating. Since freeze-dried food was made to be re-hydrated, it is very easy to do. It can be done with cold or hot water, and after the water is added the food is just like the regular food item was frozen and then thawed. Dehydrated food wasn’t made for re-hydration, so it is extremely difficult. An example of doing this would be trying to turn a raisin back into a grape. If you do want to attempt this, it must be done with hot water.

7. Uses. Freeze-dried food is great to use as a substitute for fresh ingredients when cooking. It also comes in pre-made packaged meals like lasagna or orange chicken. There are limitless possibilities with freeze-dried; they even make freeze-dried icecream! Dehydrated food is a little more limited. It’s great as a snack by itself, but it doesn’t really go with recipes very well. The products that are dehydrated are mostly fruits, vegetables, and meats. There are multiple brands for both, so try them all out and find your favorites.

8. Cost. Freeze-dried foods tend to cost more than dehydrated food. The average cost of an MRE, or “Meals Ready to Eat,” is between 2 and 4 dollars per serving of each food item you want to fill the plate with. This cost can add up fast once you have accounted for every food group for a family of four. For example, if you have a dinner with fruit, vegetables, noodles, and meat, your grand total for the meal will be around 33 dollars. On the other hand, the average cost of dehydrated food is between 5 and 12 bucks per pound. That means you’re only spending between 37 and 75 cents per serving. That is a much cheaper snack item than granola bars or fruit snacks.

Do not assume that one is better than the other in every respect; because they both can be very helpful if used properly. Both freeze-dried and dehydrated foods have their ups and downs, and they are both very good options for your home food storage and daily cooking. Once you figure out what dehydrated foods your kids like to snack on, what your family is allergic to, and which freeze-dried meals you love, you will be well on your way to using your knowledge of both food types to help provide tasty, nutritional food for your family. 

Author Bio: Chett Wright is a typical family-man from Ohio. He has been an emergency preparedness expert for over 15 years, and loves educating others on the importance of food storage. If you have more questions regarding food storage or freeze-dried food, click the link or visit this facebook page

Last modified on Wednesday, 05 June 2013 12:52
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