How To Freeze Dry Junior Mints

How To Freeze Dry Junior Mints

Freeze Dried Candy

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.

How Do You Prepare Junior Mints For Freeze Drying

Unlike Airheads, Gummy Worms, and Bit O Honey, you don’t need to do much with Junior mints. They’re the perfect size for freeze-drying, so you only have to put them on the trays.

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.

Go Easy On The Candy Mode

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.

Do I Pre Freeze?

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.

How To Freeze Dry Junior Mints

If you have the old software version, here’s what you need to do to freeze-dry Junior Mints

  1. Turn on the machine and press “CUSTOMIZE”.
  2. On the next screen, you can set the dry temperature to 135 °F (57 °C), then press “SAVE”. (Note: your freeze dryer will follow these settings on the next batches. Remember to lower the dry temperature on the next batch if you’re not freeze-drying candies).
  3. Select “START > NON-LIQUID”.
  4. Choose “NOT-FROZEN” for room-temperature candies. Or select “FROZEN” if you pre-froze them.
  5. Wait for the chamber to pre-cool, which can take 15-30 minutes.
  6. When the unit is ready, it will tell you to close the drain valve and load the trays.
  7. After loading, close the chamber door, ensuring a tight seal around the ring.
  8. Press “CONTINUE” and let the machine do its work.
  9. You’ll be asked to warm the trays after completing the cycle. Skip this step to avoid melting the chocolate.

For freeze dryers with a v5.x.19 or higher software, here’s what you do to activate Candy Mode.

  1. Select “CUSTOMIZE” on the home screen.
  2. On the “Dry Temp” field, increase the temperature to 135 °F (57 °C). You should see “Candy/High Temperature Mode” on the screen.
  3. Set the “Extra Dry Time” for 2-3 hours. Candy Mode has no standard dry time, so this will be your only dry time.
  4. Press the “SAVE” button.
  5. Press “START” and wait for the chamber to cool down for 15 minutes before loading the trays.
  6. When the chamber’s ready, turn the Candy Mode “ON” by tapping the toggle button.
  7. Close the drain valve and load the trays.
  8. Close the chamber door and check for a tight seal around the ring.
  9. Press “CONTINUE”
  10. Select “SKIP” when you’re asked to warm the trays.
  11. You’ll be asked to warm the trays again when the process is done. Skip this again and get your trays while they’re cold. Use mitts because the trays are uncomfortable to hold.

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.

How Long Does It Take To Freeze Dry Junior Mints?

How Long Does It Take To Freeze Dry Junior Mints?

Freeze-drying candy doesn’t take long. Usually, about 6-24 hours is enough, but that would depend on:

  • How much candy you’re freeze-drying.
  • The nature of other food or candy you’re freeze drying along with the mints.
  • Room temperature where you installed the freeze dryer.
  • Your vacuum pump’s performance
  • Age of your freeze dryer and software version.

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.

How Do I Store Freeze Dried Junior Mints?

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.

How Long Do Freeze-Dried Junior Mints Last?

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.

Also, please subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more freeze-drying tips and videos. Thanks!

Leave a Reply