Monday, May 25, 2009

Dehydrated & Freeze Dried Foods (SRS Meeting - May 7, 2009)

Which Method of Storing is the Best?

Many people want to know which method is the best for storing their food, and depending on whom you ask, you will probably get a different answer. Each method has different advantages and disadvantages, depending on what your priorities are when it comes to food storage. We have outlined the basic methods, and how they affect your food storage. So you be the judge of the best method for you and your family, and start getting prepared!

Dehydrated Foods

When food is dehydrated, the water is slowly cooked out of the fruit or vegetable, without actually cooking it. There are three different methods: air-dried, sun-dried, or kiln-dried. Food can be easily sun-dried from your home, whereas the air or kiln method requires more equipment. All methods are very cost-efficient for storing food. Once fruits and vegetables are dried, they are then stored in airtight containers. Usually they are packed with an oxygen absorber, which effectively removes the oxygen, leaving only nitrogen behind.

  • Lower Price than Freeze-dried
  • Food is compact-more can be stored in a container
  • Food can be dried at home (sun dried)
  • Easy to reconstitute with water


  • Freeze Dried Foods
  • Food loses some texture when dried
  • Some loss of taste compared to freeze dried
  • Need a machine to create air tight seal and add oxygen absorber

Freeze Dried Foods

Freeze-drying is a process of preserving food that retains the delicious taste and nutrition of fresh foods. Fresh or cooked foods are flash frozen and then put in large vacuum chamber that remains as cold as -50° F. Minimal heat is applied, and the ice evaporates without ever going back into the liquid phase. This removes almost all of the moisture from the product. Finally, the product is canned or bagged and labeled for long term storage for easy use at a later date. Although the freeze-drying method is generally more expensive, it generally produces a shelf life similar to that of dehydrated foods. It is a good choice for fruits and meats.


  • Food keeps texture and shape
  • Quickly reconstitutes with warm water
  • Lighter for carrying or backpacking
  • Keeps full taste and size or bulk


  • Higher Price
  • Need expensive equipment for freeze drying process
  • Only cost effective for selective products– meats, fruits, and vegetables
  • Requires more space to store since food remains full size

Meals Ready to Eat (MRE) (5 year storage plus or minus)

Are MRE's dehydrated or freeze dried?
No. Dehydrated or freeze dried foods typically require that water be added in order to be prepared and eaten. MRE main courses are "ready to eat", and do not require you to add water to the contents.

Can I eat the products cold?
Yes. The main entrees (such as Beef Stew, Chili with Macaroni or similar items) do not require additional cooking prior to being eaten. All products may be eaten cold, directly from the pouch. Heating of the products is considered optional, although most people do prefer to warm their food when possible.

How do I warm my food?
MRE pouches may be warmed in many ways. Although the pouch is a reasonably sturdy and durable container, it can be damaged if too high of a temperature is applied. DO NOT apply a direct flame to the pouch. DO NOT use any high temperature heating process that could harm the pouch or cause injury or damage to your skin. Instead, the following methods are suggested
1. The unopened pouch may be placed in a pan of warm water for 5-10 minutes.
2. Lay the pouch in direct sunlight, allowing it to warm;
3. The unopened pouch may be placed inside your shirt, allowing your body temperature to help warm the food inside;
4. The unopened pouch may be laid on a warm surface, to absorb the heat from the warm object; 5. The pouch may be opened and the food placed into a pan for heating.
6. MRE pouches may also be heated using Water-Activated Flameless MRE Heaters.

Apple Crisp

4 cups dehydrated apples
8 cups hot water
½ C. Sugar
½ C. Brown Sugar
1 tsp. cinnamon

In a large sauce pan combine water, apple slices, sugar and 1 tsp cinnamon and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for about 30 minutes. Drain off liquid reserving about 1 cup to Add back to the apple mixture.

Ingredients for Topping:

3/4 cup of old-fashioned oats
2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Dash of salt
1/2 cup of butter
1/2 cup of chopped walnuts (Optional)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F Butter an 8 X 11 inch baking dish Place prepared apple mixture in baking dish. Mix old-fashioned oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon and salt in a large bowl Add butter and rub into mixture until coarse crumbs form Mix in walnuts Spread topping onto apple mixture Place in oven and bake until topping is golden brown .(about 35-40 minutes)
Variations using different flavors of Ramen combined with different canned ingredients are easy.

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