Throughout history, people have always looked for ways to extend the useful life of products. That’s why there are various methods like pickling or canning that are still used. Recently, freeze-drying has become popular in the field of food preservation. The process is used by the pharmaceutical and beverage industries but is trendy within households as well.
In this article, we’ll compare the pros and cons of different methods like freeze-dried vs dehydrated products. This post is part of our series on freeze-dried food. Learn more about how to do it at home by reading our guide on freeze-dryers.
Freeze-Dried VS Dehydrated
These two food preservation methods are similar. They remove the moisture from food products as a way to slow down bacterial growth. Let’s examine the main differences between them.
Freeze-Dried VS Dehydrated Process
Freeze-drying is a process that includes a few steps. During the first one, the items are frozen. Then, the machine reduces the pressure inside the chamber. As a vacuum is created, the actual dehydration starts by slowly increasing the temperature. Because of the reduced pressure, the water molecules don’t liquify but vaporize instead.
On the other hand, when comparing freeze-dried vs dehydrated, the latter has a much simpler process. It simply removes the moisture via hot air.
Freeze-Dried VS Dehydrated Shelf Life
Freeze-dried products have a much longer shelf life. They can last between a few years to decades. However, they need to be stored in airtight containers. If not kept under the right conditions, these products will moisten and will become susceptible to bacterial growth. Dehydrated items last between a few weeks to a maximum of a year or two. The useful life of dehydrated products depends a lot on factors such as the type of the product and the storage conditions.
Freeze-Dried VS Dehydrated Equipment
One of the biggest cons of freeze-drying is the fact that it requires a special machine to perform it. There are various freeze-dryer models on the market. Some of them are suitable for households while others are for commercial or industrial use.
Dehydration can be easily done in an oven or an air fryer. In regions with a warm climate, fruits and other products can be dehydrated simply via exposure to the sun for several days.
Freeze-Dried VS Dehydrated Applications
The freeze-drying method is suitable for more products. For example, you can’t dehydrate beverages but you can freeze-dry them. When that happens, whether it’s coffee or juice, they turn into powder. Business owners and restaurant managers might use the method to preserve soups or other liquid dishes. Simply mixing them with water is enough to rehydrate them when needed.
There are various other things that cannot be dehydrated. For example, one of the hot trends in the field is freeze-dried candy. Wholesale freeze-dried distributors also offer other products such as fully cooked pasta, scrambled eggs, or dairy products.
Key takeaway: When comparing freeze-dried vs dehydrated products, both food preservation methods have their pros and cons. Freeze-drying requires a more expensive setup as it’s done in a specialized machine. On the other hand, dehydrating doesn’t increase the shelf life of products substantially.
Freeze-Dried VS Frozen
Freezing is probably the most common method to preserve food and extend its useful life. Let’s briefly examine the similarities and differences between freezing and freeze-drying.
Freeze-Dried VS Frozen Shelf Life
Freezing products increases their expiration date by a few months to a year. On the other hand, if stored properly, freeze-dried products can be safely consumed more than a decade later.
Freeze-Dried VS Frozen Equipment
A major disadvantage of freeze-drying is that it requires special equipment in the form of a freeze-dryer. However, after the process is complete, the products can be kept at room temperature, as long as they are in an airtight container.
Freezing food needs to constantly be kept at low temperatures in a freezer.
Freeze-Dried VS Frozen Quality of Preservation
When it comes to texture and taste, freeze-drying preserves the products better. Frozen products can become moist and change their appearance after they are warmed up.
Freeze-Dried VS Fresh
One of the most popular fresh produce trends is to consume organic and locally-grown products. Whether it’s fruits, vegetables, or meals, eating them in their fresh state guarantees that their taste and texture will be in authentic condition. Furthermore, even though freeze-drying largely preserves the nutritional value of products, it might have a negative impact on some vitamins and minerals.
Nevertheless, we often need to preserve the useful life of products. That’s best done by freeze-drying. The majority of fruits and vegetables consumed by households or used by businesses are purchased by wholesale produce distributors. However, freeze-drying has its role for certain items. Not only does it increase their shelf life, but it also makes them crunchy and interesting to eat.
Frequently Asked Questions about Freeze-Dried VS Dehydrated
As freeze-drying is becoming increasingly popular, a lot of people are discovering new applications of this technique. It can be used to prepare ingredients for whole-grain breakfasts or as part of a restaurant’s marketing and food plating. Down below we’ve answered a couple of the frequently asked questions in the freeze-dried vs dehydrated debate.
What Other Food Preservation Methods Are Used?
Even though in this article we’ve compared freeze-dried vs dehydrated and other popular preservation methods, there are dozens of additional ones. For different reasons, some of them have become less popular. Others are still widely used. Here are some of the popular food preservation methods.
- Salting. Using salt to draw the water content of food products slows down bacterial growth. It’s a popular method for meat or fish.
- Pickling. The process includes using an acidic solution like vinegar and briny water. Combined, these methods prevent microorganisms from multiplying freely.
- Jellying. By mixing fruits with sugar and storing them in jars, you can extend their shelf life by a couple of years.
- Canning. Canned food products are very popular and are a common item in many household and restaurant pantries.
What Food Products Should Not Be Preserved with Any Method?
Even though food preservation is a popular alternative to extend the shelf life of various products, it’s not applicable to every food. Some food categories either cannot be preserved or the results will not be satisfactory. However, putting them in the fridge is still a way to make them last longer. Here are some such food products.
- Products with high oil content. That includes avocados or fried meals. Because of their low water content and high fat content, they can be frozen but their taste and texture will change significantly.
- Bread or other baked goods. Bread-based products are hard to preserve as their structure changes substantially. The only option to extend their shelf life is to freeze them but they might be moist once they are unfrozen.
- Carbonated drinks. Virtually all methods of preservation will either decarbonate or significantly change the structure of these beverages. One way to always have a good supply of carbonated beverages is to buy concentrated soft drinks wholesale and mix them with seltzer water when you need them.
What Businesses Freeze-Dry Products?
As freeze-dried products are becoming a hot food trend, they become frequently used by the restaurant industry. Furthermore, coffee wholesale distributors and manufacturers might also have freeze-drying capabilities as instant coffee is one of the most popular freeze-dried drinks. As freeze-dried fruits are a healthy snack idea, food manufacturers also make and sell products to answer the market’s demand.