Jul 6, 2023
Freeze-dried food was once only known among astronauts, soldiers, and hikers. Now, they’re gaining popularity and traction among, survivalists, and the disaster-prepared. But there remains one question. Although they can be delicious, do freeze-dried foods have the same nutritional value as natural food?
Freeze drying maintains about 97 percent of the food’s nutritional value, with 3% lost during the process. Why? Because food goes from fresh to frozen in a matter of seconds, locking in the nutrients almost instantly.
It’s healthier than dehydrated foods, which use heat to draw out moisture and preserve food. Heat can harm the potency and effectiveness of a myriad of vitamins and nutrients. On the other hand, cold temperatures have little to no effect on nutrients.
Gary Stoner (professor of medicine, Medical College, Wisconsin) did research and found that freeze-dried berries retained 90% of their anthocyanins. These compounds not only give berries their delicious red color, but they are also flavonoids that contain anti-oxidant properties.
Other nutrients such as water-soluble vitamins like Vitamin C, E, and folic acid are somewhat depleted. But according to Dianne Barret, (food science and technology professor, UC-Davis), freeze-dried food has the same nutritional value as of fresh food once rehydrated.
Yes, they are!
In fact, the nutritional value of freeze-dried fruits can be, in time, higher compared to fresh ones. Why is that? Let’s make a comparison between a fresh apple and a freeze-dried apple.
Let’s say you got a fresh apple and a freeze-dried apple on Monday, May 9th. Both have the same nutritional value as the fresh apple is ripe and ready for eating. The freeze-dried apple was preserved in the same state.
However, on June 9th, the fresh apple’s nutritional value is lower than the freeze-dried apple. This is because the nutrients in the frozen apple degrade over time. The nutrients break down through the natural process of aging and oxidation. Something that can’t be said about freeze-dried apples, which retain their nutrients for as long as 15-30 years.
Rest assured, the same principle goes. In fact, freeze-dried vegetables are better compared to dehydrated and canned vegetables.
Preservation through dehydration and canning frequently uses heat, which often destroys most nutrients. During dehydration or drying, only about 60% of nutritional value is preserved. During the canning process, only 40% of food’s nutritional value is maintained.
So if you’re storing food and are concerned about the nutritional value, it’s considered good practice to go for freeze-dried food.
Another good thing about freeze-dried food is that they have the same flavor, shape, and color as fresh food.
The process also locks in the flavor of the food, making it taste better than dehydrated or canned food. Is it the same with meat? Yes! But do keep in mind that freeze-dried meat is unseasoned, so you need to season it like fresh meat to get the best flavor out of it.
Is freeze-dried food safe to eat?
As long as you follow the health and safety standards of food handling yes, freeze-dried food is safe to eat.
Keep in mind, though, that freeze-drying doesn’t kill bacteria. If you’re going to freeze-dry your food at home, make sure that everything is clean and sanitary. Be especially careful with meat. It should be prepared and cooked to a temperature that kills bacteria to prevent getting food poisoned.
TLDR: Do freeze-dried foods have the same nutritional value? Yes, they do. According to most research, freeze-dried foods retain as much as 97% of their nutritional value. It’s way better compared to other methods of food preservation like dehydration and canning.
Freeze-drying food also retains its flavor, color, and shape of food, making it far more enjoyable to eat. They almost taste as good as fresh and can be a good alternative when you’re unable to get your hands on fresh food.
Although freeze-dried foods have the same nutritional value, the process doesn’t necessarily eliminate bacteria. Make sure to follow food safety procedures when doing it yourself or consuming freeze-dried foods. This way, you get the confidence of having a food stock that’s not only satisfying but safe for you and your family.