Jul 6, 2023
One of the crowning moments of owning a freeze dryer is successfully processing tough candies. One of these tough babies is Junior Mints. Here’s how to freeze-dry them to get them right on the first try.
What you can do to help the machine is smash the mints a touch to break the chocolate covering. Chocolate doesn’t freeze dry well because of its high fat content. So, sometimes, it becomes a barrier and prevents moisture from escaping the food. By smooshing the Junior Mints, you expose the sweet center for freeze-drying.
Line the freeze dryer trays with parchment paper or silicone mat before placing the mints. The candy can stick to the trays and would be difficult to remove after freeze-drying.
If you have the v5.x.19 or higher version of the software, you have Candy Mode. It does a great job of freezing hard candy that would otherwise be difficult to freeze.
However, when it comes to candies like Junior Mins and Peeps, go easy on Candy Mode. The candy will melt if you crank up the drying temperature above 135 °F (57 °C). You’ll end up with a messy goo that doesn’t even remotely resemble the original product.
What you can do is put the drying temperature to 135 °F (57 °C) to activate the candy mode. Don’t go any higher than that. When you’re asked to warm the trays, select “SKIP”. Whether at the beginning or end of the cycle, never warm your trays or freeze-drying Junior Mints.
Pre-freezing Junior Mints is an option since it doesn’t have that much moisture. Your freeze dryer can freeze the mints for you quite effectively.
However, it wouldn’t help to pre-freeze if your freeze dryer’s occupied. About 48 hours would be enough to freeze the candies. That should be enough time to finish a batch of food and clean the freeze-dryer if necessary.
When you pre-freeze, remember to use ice-cold trays as well to keep the candies from melting. Then, take them out only when the freeze dryer’s pre-cooled to -8°F (-22 °C) or lower. You also need to act fast when loading the trays because the longer they’re exposed, the more your food will melt.
If you have the old software version, here’s what you need to do to freeze-dry Junior Mints
For freeze dryers with a v5.x.19 or higher software, here’s what you do to activate Candy Mode.
You have the option of freeze-drying another batch of candies while the machine is in Candy Mode. If you choose “DEFROST” or “NO DEFROST”, the unit will revert to the standard freeze-drying temperature.
Freeze-drying candy doesn’t take long. Usually, about 6-24 hours is enough, but that would depend on:
You know that the mints are done freeze-drying when the candies expand to twice their size. The Junior Mints should be light, airy, and crunchy. If the chocolate’s melted a bit, this can mean that the trays were too warm. The trays may need 1-2 hours of extra dry time if the mints are still slightly chewy.
These candies can be irresistible that you can’t take your hands off them. For convenient snacking, Mason jars work superbly. They’re easy to open and reseal, and you don’t have to worry about throwing away packaging. They’re strong and solid,s o they can keep your candies intact.
If you want to store the candies long-term – or if you wish to sell them – Mylar bags are great. They’re lightweight, easy to store, and don’t take up a lot of space. In addition, some are made to keep out heat, light, and moisture, ensuring that your freeze-dried Junior Mints last for years.
After putting the Junior Mints in their containers, remember to add oxygen absorbers. This element is notorious for spoiling food so you have to eliminate it from your food packaging. Oxygen absorbers are effective in making your packages oxygen-free. About 1-2 of the 300cc packets are okay for every gallon size of your container.
The Junior Mints can only last for 5-10 years because of the chocolate content. To help keep them long, you have to store them in a room with a temperature lower than 72°F (22 °C). Relative humidity should also be 15% or less. Keep the room dark and draft-free as well for better storage.
Junior Mints are awesome when freeze-dried. If you want less chewiness and a different sweet texture, you’d definitely want to freeze-dry them. Just be careful with the drying temperature, especially for Candy Mode. Experiment with the drying temperature and time and see what works. The settings can vary depending on the temperature and humidity where your freeze dryer’s located. Documentation can be your best friend. So, write everything down to help you get the settings right in almost any situation.
We hope that you’re confident in freeze-drying your Junior Mints. Let us know how it goes in the comment section.
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