Jul 6, 2023
The booming population and transportation problems are now making food insecurity a looming reality. This is why many are now looking for ways to preserve food and stock them for emergency supplies. Thanks to freeze-drying, people can now store food that can last for decades. But the question is: does freeze dried food go bad?
This is food preserved by taking out 98% moisture or water content. Unlike dehydration, freeze-drying works by using a combination of freezing temperatures and vacuum pressure to force water out. In this kind of environment, water skips the evaporation phase and turns instantly to gas. What’s left is food that retains its flavor, shape, and color.
Some food like fruits, vegetables, and candies can be eaten as-is straight out of the bag. Other times, you need to rehydrate them before you consume or cook them.
In an ideal setting and situation, freeze-dried food shouldn’t go bad. But we’re humans, and our living conditions change along with our habits and, of course, weather. Unless you expose freeze-dried food to undesirable situations, your food can stay good for eating for a couple of decades.
There are several things that can affect the condition of your freeze-dried food.
It gives life to almost all living organisms – and that includes microorganisms like bacteria, mold, and fungi that spoil food. One of the best ways to prevent oxygen from touching your freeze dried food is to place it in air-tight containers or Mylar bags. Others go a step further by adding oxygen absorbers, which is quite helpful if you’ve already opened a container.
Water or moisture also creates an environment for microorganisms to grow. If you notice, moist food tends to spoil faster than dry food. Keep your food away from a damp, humid area to help prevent it from getting spoiled.
Light can cause proteins, vitamins, and nutrients to break down. Exposure can also cause the food to change color and lose its flavor. This is why some freeze-dried storage containers are either dark-colored or opaque to keep light from ruining the food.
Temperature can also cause proteins and vitamins to break down. Prolonged exposure to heat can affect color, flavor, and odor of freeze-dried food. Even though freeze-dried food can last for 20 or so years in room temperature, it’s best to keep its storage environment no higher than 75°F or 23°C.
Sometimes, you may still encounter spoilage even if you leave your supply undisturbed. There are several ways to know if your stash has gone bad.
When you open the bag or container, you should smell what the food smells like in its normal state. Strawberries should smell like strawberries – sweet and tart. Bananas should smell like bananas – sweet, mellow, fruity, and creamy. Meats should have this earthy, lightly bloody metallic smell that’s not too overpowering.
Now, if you’re greeted with a sour smell, sulfuric odor, or an aroma similar to ammonia, then your food has gone bad. Whether it’s just a hint, a whiff, or strong and overpowering, do yourself a favor and throw that bag out. Won’t hurt if you check the others too.
Many describe the texture as airy and crumbly. It’s got this porous feel that you would think it’s going to crumble into powder if you squeeze it between your fingers. You get that crunch when you bite into it, and it instantly melts in your mouth.
If you touch the food and get this slippery, slimy, gooey feel when it’s not reconstituted, throw it away. The food has gone bad and isn’t fit for eating.
Because of the low-temp drying process, freeze dried food still has its original (if not close) color. If you see that the color is somewhat faded, it’s a sign that it’s past its shelf life.
This usually happens when the freeze-dried food’s container loses its air-tight seal or is exposed to moisture. Even if you see just one piece or a small portion of the food having dark spots or mold, don’t take any chances.
In general, this is their shelf life under different conditions.
Freeze-dried food should be good for anyone to cook and eat for 20-30 years under ideal conditions. They should be good if you keep the container air-tight and maintain the storage temp below 72°F, they should be good. The environment should also be dry and with the least light exposure.
Remember that freeze-dried food retains its original taste, odor, and color. If you get a funky, sour smell and taste, plus the color is off or has dark spots, trust that you have food that’s gone bad. Just throw them away, check the others, and don’t worry about the money. A couple hundred dollars down the drain because of spoilt food is nothing against thousands of dollars when you get hospitalized.
Ever experienced your freeze-dried food going bad? Share them with us in the comment section!