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How to prepare Freeze Dried Foods
Freeze-Drying Foods Gets The Wet Out!

When hearing the term 'lyophilization', or more commonly known as, 'freeze-drying', many of us think of astronauts and space travel, but actually, it's not rocket science; it's down-to-earth science that demonstrates how organic material exposed to low temperature within a high-pressure atmosphere, goes through 'sublimation'. Sublimation is when water in solid (ice) state, converts directly into its vapor (gas) state, and is essential to the freeze-drying process; removing 98% of moisture from food without harming or altering the food's structure. Once re-hydrated, freeze-dried food regains its shape, color, flavor, and texture, and most importantly, loses none of its nutritional value.

TO MAKE YOUR OWN FREEZE-DRYER YOU WILL NEED:

* A basic foam or plastic cooler. Cooler size should depend on amount of food to be freeze-dried. Cooler MUST be full, so if using a larger cooler, be sure to have enough food and/or ice make a full cooler, or results won't be optimal.

* Zip-lock Type Freezer Bags

* Dry Ice

* Insulated Gloves

* Foods

TO PREPARE AND FREEZE-DRY YOUR OWN FOODS:

1) Now that your freeze-dryer is complete, decide which foods to freeze-dry. Potatoes and apples are great starters, but be adventurous--experiment with a variety of foods. You want a freeze that quickly evaporates maximum moisture from foods;it's critical to slice THIN, CONSISTENTLY SIZED pieces.

2) Fill bags with sliced foods, and seal, taking care to expel air from bag. Use a vacuum-sealer if you have one; if not, press out air manually. Each packet should be equally filled--moderately full, but packed loosely enough so when placed between layers of ice, the entire bag's surface makes contact with the ice, and freezes in a consistent manner.

3) At the last minute, and wearing gloves TO AVOID FROSTBITE, spread generous layer of dry ice over the entire floor of cooler. Neatly arrange food packets over the ice without overlapping bags. Alternate food and ice so that when finished, top and bottom layers are ice.

4) Close cooler and wait 30 minutes before checking food. If bag contents are soft or even slightly pliable when probed, then replace lid and recheck for firmness every few minutes. Freeze-time will vary and is dependent on volume of food being freeze-dried.

5) Once you're certain food is completely frozen, set cooler outside with lid off, allowing dry ice to evaporate, leaving only your freeze-dried foods behind.

6) Label bags with food name and freeze date. If food packages were vacuum-sealed they can stay in the pantry for years; if not, they won't last as long, and you may wish to put them in a freezer. Be aware that freezer bags can allow air in, and that significantly decreases shelf life. Only store food bags outside freezer if you're ABSOLUTELY 100% POSITIVE of your bag's seal.

ADVANTAGES OF FREEZE-DRIED FOODS:

* Can store at room temperature remaining spoil-free for long periods of time.

* Extremely lightweight (98% water removed) making them easy to store and convey.

* Maintain their look, texture, taste, and nutrition even better than canned or dehydrated foods.

* Many foods, like apples, can be eaten in freeze-dried state, without needing to rehydrate first.


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