Jul 6, 2023
We love freeze-drying food because it gives us so much freedom in our food choices. Gone is the struggle to find good quality food when the fruit is out of season or you’re traveling. And when you love to hike as much as we do, freeze-dried fruit is like mana from heaven. But then we also ask ourselves: can freeze-dried fruit go bad? We’ll be answering that question right now.
The quick answer to that is yes. Any type of preserved food can still go bad when the package or storage is damaged. But how can the storage get ruined when it’s been kept so well and undisturbed? Damage can still happen because of several things:
There are four major factors that can cause freeze-dried fruit to spoil.
Oxygen is the leading cause of spoilage for several reasons:
It’s the gas that breathes life to almost any living substance on the planet, including microorganisms. This is the main reason why mold and yeast grow on preserved food.
Also, it causes oxidation, releasing enzymes that produce various chemical reactions. As a result, you get this tell-tale browning and foul odor in freeze-dried fruits.
Any food, even if, let’s say, it’s bone-dry, can still go bad when it absorbs water. So how can freeze-dried food get wet? One of the most common sources of water when it comes to stocked food supply is humidity. It can absorb moisture if your storage bag isn’t sealed correctly or has a puncture on it. This is the reason why there are humidity controls in warehouses. They make sure that humidity in the room doesn’t exceed 40%.
In cases of natural disasters, flooding can pose a threat to your preserved fruit. If in case the storage room gets flooded, check immediately if your bags, jars, or cans are intact. Anything that’s been water damaged should be thrown away.
Many recommend that you store freeze-dried fruit at temperatures not going above 72°F (22°C). Others recommend not going above 70°F (21°C). This is because it can break down proteins, and vitamins are also destroyed.
There’s a reason why Mylar bags are opaque. This kind of material keeps light away from freeze-dried food that can cause chemical reactions. Discoloration can happen, and vitamins can also break down or deteriorate. The
Look out for these red flags whenever you open a package of freeze-dried fruit:
Freeze-dried fruits should have this sweet, sugary, delicious smell, saying: eat me! The scent and aroma will immediately hit your nostrils when you open the bag or container. A citrusy, tangy, or tart smell should greet you for sour fruits.
Now, if you smell a funky, musky, sour smell that you don’t typically get from fruits? That means your package has gone bad. Sometimes, you’ll even get a sulfuric odor or something similar to ammonia.
We love preserving fruit this way because it’s like eating sweet chips given by nature. Each slice or piece of fruit is airy, crumbly, and crunchy. You get this satisfying crunch in every chew that soon gives way to a pleasurable burst of fruity goodness.
But when you touch the freeze-dried fruit, and you get a slippery, slimy feel, whether dry or reconstituted? It’s a sign that the fruit has gone bad. Also, if you press on it and it feels like a dense sponge, you should throw it away immediately.
Freeze-dried fruits retain their bright, appealing color even after processing. So if you see any fading, dullness, or a total change in color, you’ve got a bad batch in your hands.
Freeze-dried fruit should have a clean, smooth surface. Dark spots, white wooly patches, or the presence of mold means your preserved fruit isn’t good for eating and should be thrown away.
When you see this, better check the rest of the batch. Break the seal if you have to. You can always reseal and throw in a new oxygen absorber. It’s better to sacrifice packaging materials than risk eating spoiled food. Check the surroundings as well for mold. Usually, there’s the contamination of spores also in the storage room. Clean the area thoroughly and do proper mold treatment to prevent further contamination.
You’ll usually see “best if used by shelf life” in freeze-dried fruit packages. Manufacturers use this to let you know you’ll get the best flavors and experience when you eat the package before the date.
Some say that if the fruit inside is still dry and doesn’t show any spoilage, it’s still good to eat. However, you won’t be getting the best experience compared to eating it before the expiry date.
You automatically expose the freeze-dried fruit to air and moisture after opening. So if you stored it in mason jars and #10 cans that you can’t vacuum seal, best consume it in 6-12 months.
Freeze-dried fruit usually has a shelf life of 15-20 years, depending on how well the freeze-drying process was, how you stored it, and where you stored it. But once there’s a break in the ideal conditions, there’s a risk of the freeze-dried food going bad.
Check the listed red flags and regularly check your freeze-dried fruit supply. If in case you recently purchased a commercially made freeze-dried fruit, don’t take anything to chance. Instead, see if it’s good to eat and inspect every piece before you take a bite.
Have you ever experienced freeze-dried fruit going bad on you? Let us know in the comment section!
If you’re new to the blog, please subscribe to our Freeze Dried Guide Channel on YouTube. We’ll be sharing tips, tricks, reviews, and how-tos on anything and everything about freeze-drying.