Imagine fruit slices that are lightweight, crispy, and sweet beyond compare. That’s the joy of eating freeze-dried fruits.
In this article, you’ll learn why freeze-dried fruit is so healthy and handy. You’ll also gain dietary tips and links to high-quality brands. If you buy from top-notch sellers, this fruit tastes like nectar!
What is Freeze-Dried Fruit – Culinary Marvel
Freeze-dried fruits are preserved versions of fresh fruit, having most of their water removed.
Through freeze-drying, foods lose 99 percent of their moisture. Since fruits are frozen quickly, they escape ice damage and deformity. Instead, they become porous. This structural change facilitates reconstitution.
So, if you wish to soak freeze-dried fruits, they absorb water fast. Furthermore, low-heat drying protects its nutrients. Freeze-drying also preserves the flavor and color of fresh fruit, without using harmful additives!
A Brief History of Freeze-Drying Process
Freeze-drying food dates back to the 15th-century Incas, native to South America. Tribes living in the Andes Mountains stored their crops at the higher elevations. After the frigid air froze their food, the low atmospheric pressure vaporized its moisture. Through this gift of Mother Nature, the Incas could preserve their harvests long-term.
Fast-forward to 1906, when a French physicist invented freeze-drying technology. In the 1950s, the food industry refined it and began production. In 1968, a space mission made freeze-dried food famous by serving “astronaut ice cream” to those on board.
How Are Fruits Freeze-Dried – Commercial Method
Currently, freeze-drying food entails three steps — freezing, vaporizing, and drying, as follows.
- First, food trays are wheeled into a cold room, set to a below-freezing temperature. Through brief exposure, the water in the food crystallizes.
- The carts proceed to a low-pressure vacuum chamber. Through a mild increase in temperature, the ice crystals in the food vaporize. Condensers on the chamber walls collect the vapor.
- The food then undergoes drying, followed by sealing in airtight packaging.
Here’s a brief video describing the commercial freeze-drying process:
Changing ice to vapor without it melting is a food science feat! Researchers use the term “triple point” to describe the temperature at which ice vaporizes. This transformation, called “sublimation,” requires vigilant monitoring.
Freeze-Dried Conveniences You’ll Appreciate
Freeze-dried fruits are lightweight and don’t need refrigeration. Therefore, you can take them anywhere! For this reason, they’re favored by hikers, boaters, campers, bikers, and skiers. Plus, they make for “clean eating,” as they don’t drip juice like some fresh fruits.
2. Speedy Prep
You can nosh on freeze-dried fruits “as is,” in which case they’re crispy. If you prefer soft fruits, it’s a breeze to plump them. With the fruit in a bowl, add water by the spoonful until it begins to puddle at the bottom. Then, stir until the food absorbs the water, taking less than five minutes. Avoid soaking it longer, as you’ll have soggy mush.
3. Compact Storage
While fresh and frozen fruits are luscious, they eat up space in your freezer and fridge. Enter freeze-dried fruits! You can store the lightweight packs in your pantry. Save your fridge for more perishable foods.
4. Prolonged Freshness
The shelf-life of freeze-dried fruits varies by manufacturer. Still, most products last for at least 10 years, without the threats of mold or bacterial spoilage. That’s because the food industry uses oxygen-free packaging. Producers achieve this either by oxygen suctioning, nitrogen flushing, or adding oxygen absorbents.
After opening a package of freeze-dried fruit, store the food in an airtight container. Otherwise, the fruit will absorb moisture from the air, turning rubbery. Plus, it will quickly spoil.
Health Advantages of Freeze Dried-Fruit
Generally, freeze-dried fruits are nearly as healthy as raw ones. Sometimes, they outshine fresh fruits. Below are three factors that give freeze-dried fruits a competitive edge.
Fruit earmarked for freeze-drying is flash-frozen when fully ripe. Since the produce is mature, there’s a good chance of optimal nutrition. Regarding fresh fruit, some types may be picked unripe, such as bananas and peaches. Growers do this to minimize damage during handling and shipping. Yet, harvesting fruits prematurely can make them nutrient-poor, especially if they don’t ripen well later.
2. Timely Processing
Once harvested, crops start losing nutrients and water through their pores. Flash-freezing fruit locks in nutrients before they dissipate.
With raw produce, speedy handling isn’t guaranteed. Generally, the freshest fruit is from nearby farms and orchards. Rapid transit minimizes nutrient degradation.
However, produce from distant regions can be compromised. The longer fruits must travel to markets, the more their food value wanes. Plus, the warmer the temperature during transport, the faster this occurs.
3. Cool Vaporizing
Since freeze-drying spares fruits from destructive heat, their nutrients stay viable. Here are the key nutrients you gain, along with their roles:
- iron – supplies you with energy
- potassium – moderates your blood pressure
- enzymes – break down your food for easier digestion
- vitamins A and C – promote glowing skin, healthy eyes, and robust immunity
- fiber – aids regularity, cuts cholesterol and lowers your colon cancer risk
Additionally, freeze-dried fruits retain 90 percent of their antioxidants. These extraordinary plant compounds help to prevent many chronic diseases. Among them are Alzheimer’s, heart disease, macular degeneration, and cancer.
Precautions Advised For Eating Freeze-Dried Fruit
Of course, when it comes to quenching your thirst, fresh fruits take the prize. Dried fruits are no match for those steeped in juice, such as pineapples.
So, on the days you eat freeze-dried food, drink more water. Otherwise, you may get parched. Signs of dehydration go beyond thirst. Other possible indicators are bad breath, feeling edgy, sugar cravings, dry skin, fatigue, muscle cramps, dizziness, brain fog, and headaches.
How much water is enough? It’s easy to calculate. Just divide your weight in half. That’s the number of ounces to drink daily, helping you feel your best.
Cup-for-cup, freeze-dried fruits have more calories than fresh ones. This is due to their moisture loss, by which the fruits become smaller and lighter. Therefore, a given cup will hold more freeze-dried pieces than raw, yielding additional calories.
So, munching the fruit like popcorn can lead to weight gain. For example, a 1/3-cup serving of freeze-dried bananas has 40 calories. In comparison, a 2.5-ounce bagful has 300 calories. Furthermore, you’ll get too much natural sugar — 60 grams, equal to 14 teaspoons!
Freeze-dried fruit doesn’t fill you up like fresh fruit. For this reason, it’s easy to consume a bagful in one sitting. The best way to practice moderation is by removing the portion you need from a package, rather than eating directly from it. Typically, the recommended serving size is 1/3 cup or 1/2 cup, the portion varying by fruit type.
A person with diabetes should consult their doctor before trying freeze-dried fruit. Its natural sugars are more concentrated than those in fresh fruit. Accordingly, freeze-dried fruit has a stronger impact on blood sugar.
Suggestions to Use Freeze-Dried Fruit in Your Meals
Here are serving suggestions and tips for eating freeze-dried fruit.
- Supercharge smoothies with either ground or blended fruits.
- Tuck berries into muffins and pancakes.
- Savor them with cereal and almond milk, featured here.
- Embellish yogurt with granola and chopped fruit.
- Enhance sandwiches with sliced strawberries.
- Sprinkle fruit over salads to impart sweetness, crunch, and bright color.
- Punch up trail mix with freeze-dried fruits.
- Make energy bars, using ground or chopped fruits.
- Mix fruits with softened ice cream.
- Use them as a pudding topping.
- Showcase the gems in homemade cookies.
- Steep a handful of fruits in a quart of water. Refrigerate your elixir, drinking it periodically throughout your day.
Here’s a cool video demo of making Frozen Strawberry Vanilla Yogurt Bark:
- Mix freeze-dried fruit into batters. There’s no need to add water to recipes or modify the baking times. One ounce of freeze-dried berries equals one cup of raw, on average.
- Another option is baking with fruit powder. There are two ways to make it. You can pulse fruit with a high-speed blender or food processor. Or, place the fruit in a Ziploc bag and crush it with a rolling pin.
Where to Buy Freeze-Dried Fruits
Currently, you can purchase freeze-dried fruit at Walmart, Kroger, and Whole Foods. Your local supermarket may carry it, displayed in the Produce Department. Another possibility is the aisle for regular dried fruit. For the widest variety, shop at Amazon.com.
To save money on freeze-dried fruits, buy them in bulk packages of eight or more. To acquaint you with this food, the brands listed below are single-packs. After finding your favorites, if possible, shop for larger quantities at discounted prices.
Top Brands of Freeze-Dried Fruits
Among the most popular freeze-dried fruits are mangoes, strawberries, apples, bananas, tangerines, pineapples, and pears. Generally, least-liked are raspberries since their seeds lodge in your teeth.
Below are six highly-rated products, representing a variety of fruits. The links take you to Amazon sellers.
- 365 Everyday Value Freeze Dried Mango Slices, 1.2 oz
- Natierra Nature’s Organic Freeze-Dried Strawberries, 1.2 oz
- 365 Everyday Value Granny Smith Apple Slices, Freeze Dried, 1 oz
- Natierra Nature’s Organic Freeze-Dried Bananas, 2.5 Ounce
- Natierra Nature’s Organic Freeze-Dried Tropical Fruits, 1.5 oz
- Mother Earth Products Freeze Dried Pineapples, 4 oz
Although Mountain House, featured in the first video above, is a reputable company, its product line doesn’t include freeze-dried fruit.
Grab and Go
When eaten in small portions, freeze-dried fruit is a healthy substitute for raw. Packages are lightweight and shelf-stable, ideal for taking anywhere. If you have a school-age child, surprise them with freeze-dried fruit in their lunchbox. They’ll be thrilled!
Freeze-dried fruit occupies little pantry space. To prolong food quality and shelf-life, store the fruits in airtight containers. This way, each time you sample them, they’ll be crispy and sweet.
Several factors account for the healthfulness of freeze-dried fruits. For one, they’re harvested ripe. Their nutrients stay intact through rapid freezing, controlled vaporizing, and drying at low heat. Typically, such fruits are good sources of enzymes, antioxidants, iron, potassium, Vitamins A and C, and fiber. Moreover, they have no added sugar or preservatives.
When eating freeze-dried fruit, you must drink ample water. Otherwise, you risk dehydration. Also, stick to the suggested serving sizes on packages. This way, you’ll avoid going overboard with calories, carbs, and natural sugars. A person with diabetes must never eat freeze-dried fruit without their doctor’s consent.
The American Heart Association urges us to consume four servings of fruit daily. Freeze-dried fruit is a worthy contribution toward your daily goal!
NOTE – The information provided here is no substitute for professional healthcare advice. When under the care of qualified clinicians, heed their instructions over anything you read.