How To Freeze Dry Beef Stew

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Freeze Dried Meals

Nothing is more satisfying and comforting than having a hearty beef stew in cold weather. Especially if the beef stew was cooked for hours until the meat became soft and the soup overflowed with flavor.

But what if you want beef stew but can only make it when your parents or grandparents come over for a visit? Or if you can only make a small batch because there’s no room in your cold storage to keep it for long? Here’s how to freeze dry beef stew so that you can have an almost unlimited supply that can last for years. No cold storage is needed.

Materials Needed

For freeze-drying beef stew, you’ll need:

  • Trays that are half the size of your freeze dryer tray for freezing the stew
  • Weighing scale with tare feature
  • Measuring cup or ladle for pouring the stew on the tray easily
  • Parchment paper for writing down portion weights

Weigh The Stew Before And After Freeze Drying

The amount of water you’ll need to rehydrate freeze-dried beef stew is important. Especially when you’re rationing water and need to use it for other things. To remove the guesstimate, weigh the beef stew before pre-freezing and after you freeze dry.

It’s easier to do this if you freeze the stew in separate trays smaller by at least half of the freeze dryer tray.

bowl of hearty beef stew with huge chunks of meat

To weigh your stew before pre-freezing:

  1. Place the tray you’ll use for freezing on the weighing scale
  2. Tare the scale to set it back to zero.
  3. Use the measuring cup to get your preferred serving portion. For example, it could be a cup or two cups per person. Then use this measurement for the rest of the trays.
  4. Pour that portion of stew on the tray and measure the weight. For example, if two cups equal 250 grams of stew, ensure to stay in that weight range. You can go 10 grams less or more, but don’t exceed that. The key here is to be consistent.
  5. Label the tray with the weight of the stew.
  6. Keep doing this for the rest of the trays until you fill them all and use up all the stew.

To weigh the stew after freeze-drying:

  1. Get a clean tray or paper plate and place it on the weighing scale.
  2. Tare the scale to set the numbers to zero.
  3. Place the freeze-dried stew on the plate and get the weight.
  4. Write the weight on the parchment paper where you got the freeze-dried meal.

How To Freeze Dry Beef Stew

Once you have all the stew measured and pre-frozen, you can start freeze drying.

  1. Pre-freeze the freeze dryer trays for 30 minutes to 1 hour.
  2. Pre-cool the freeze dryer for 15-30 minutes
  3. After freezing, line the trays with parchment paper.
  4. Get the tray of frozen beef stew and write the weight down on the parchment paper using a pencil.
  5. Remove the block of frozen meal from the tray and put it where you wrote the weight down.
  6. Continue with the rest of the frozen stews as fast as you can to lessen the melting.
  7. Once the freeze dryer’s ready, close the valve and load the trays in the freeze dryer.
  8. Press continue and let the freeze dryer do its work.

How Long Will Freeze Drying Take?

Depending on how much water your stew has, freeze-drying can take about 24-36 hours. The stew should feel hard, dry, and crumbly to the touch after the cycle. If the stew feels soft, cool, and a bit moist, put it back for an extra 1-3 hours of dry time.

How Do I Store The Freeze Dried Beef Stew?

You can store the preserved stew in Mylar bags or Mason jars with oxygen absorbers. As a rule, use one to two 300cc oxygen absorbers for every gallon size of the container.

When you store the freeze-dried beef stew, label your containers with the pre-dried weight and the amount of water needed to reconstitute it. You get this by subtracting the dried weight vs. the pre-dried weight you wrote on the parchment paper.

For example, your pre-dry weight is 250g, and your dry weight is 55. This will give you about 195 g or 195 mL of water. Remember that 1 gram of water equals 1 mL.

Make sure you write down the correct weights for the block of freeze-dried stew you’ll be storing.

beef stew in slow cooker

How Do I Reconstitute The Freeze Dried Meal?

Let’s say your bag of freeze-dried stew needs 195 mL of water.

  1. Get your measuring cup and fill it with the required volume of hot water.
  2. Slowly add up to 100mL of water to your freeze-dried beef stew.
  3. Check the consistency and slowly add more until you used 2/3 or 3/4 for the required water volume.
  4. Cover the freeze-dried beef stew and steep it for 3-5 minutes, possibly longer up to 10-15 minutes.
  5. Check the consistency and softness of the stew and add more water if needed.

Usually, you can add more water if you want soupy stew. But if you want to put it on top of rice or noodles, go for less water.


Other Tips

If you want to make a complete meal with your freeze-dried beef stew, you can add freeze-dried cooked pasta or rice to the bag. Then, portion your carbs to match your freeze-dried beef stew and add the measurement to the label. You’ll need this when you reconstitute the meal.

Why not add them raw with the stew in the bag? Because you’ll have to cook it with the stew, you’ll be overcooking the beef and veggies. It’s better to cook the carbs before freeze-drying them for better consistency. Also, if you’re in a hurry, it’s easier to get a meal just by adding hot water.

Beef Stew Recipes

If you’re looking for great must-try stew recipes, here are a few:

Classic, Hearty Beef Stew

This Classic Hearty Beef Stew goes from stovetop to oven. It’s got a rich, smooth gravy made more flavorful if you use homemade stock. As is, it’s a fabulous stew, but feel free to change the recipe according to your taste.

Old Fashioned Beef Stew

Cooked on a stovetop, this Old Fashioned Beef Stew is a crowd-pleaser. You can easily modify the recipe to feed a family of 5 or an army of 10. To make your meals more satisfying, use the exact wine you’ll serve to your special guests to cook it.

Best-Ever Beef Stew

There are several reasons why this is called the Best-Ever Beef Stew. One is it uses beef chuck, a cheap cut of meat but so flavorful and tender the longer you cook it. You can make this ahead and have an even more flavorful stew the next day with potatoes. What’s more, they’re freezer-friendly!

Are you making freeze-dried beef stew for your pantry supply? Or are you going to take it with you on a trail trip? Let us know your story in the comment section.

Also, we’ll shoot a video of this showing our freeze-dried beef stew recipe. Subscribe to our YouTube Channel, so you’ll see just how we make our freeze-dried meal.

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