We never know what kind of disaster can hit us, but it is always an advantage to be well-prepared. Starvation can happen, but this can be avoided if you have preserved some food. You can’t use your fridge at a time like that and there are also foods that you should stop refrigerating. Although you can always turn to canned goods, you can also preserve the foods you want through many preservation techniques, including freeze drying and dehydrating.
Those who are new to these two techniques might think they are similar, but it is important to know the differences to understand them better.
Dehydrating food, as the name implies, needs to have no water. Here’s how dehydration is processed:
- Food is slowly heated at temperatures around 115F to 155F depending on the food type. This step is for the removal of moisture from the food.
- Oftentimes, a fan is used to evenly distribute the heat in and around the food.
- The process can last from eight to 12 hours, sometimes more.
Meanwhile, freeze drying is almost the same because you also dehydrate the food. It is more expensive and often difficult to recreate at home, but here are the steps:
- Food is frozen first.
- It will then be placed in a vacuum container, which will have the water content vaporized.
About 98% of the water content will be removed in freeze drying, compared to dehydrating food where 25% is still left.
Because there’s hardly any water left in the food, freeze drying has a longer shelf life compared to dehydrating food. The former can last from 20 to 30 years, while dehydration can last one to eight years.
You don’t need additives when freeze drying foods, but dehydration may require you to add sugar, salt, or other preservatives.
Freeze drying food will retain the natural nutrients of the food without affecting the flavors and aromas. According to the American Institute for Cancer Research, ¼ cup of freeze dried fruits and veggies should be served daily to get their health benefits. Meanwhile, dehydrated foods retain carbs and fiber, while some of vitamin C is lost just like in freeze drying. However, vitamin A is retained in dehydration.
As mentioned, freeze dried food is much more expensive and you will need a good piece of equipment to help you with the process. Dehydration can easily be done at home and will not cost much.
Both dehydrated and freeze dried foods come with advantages and disadvantages. For meats, freeze drying is more recommended, while dehydration is best for onions, tomatoes, bell peppers, and the like.