Table of Contents

Understanding Freeze Drying

By now, you’ll have probably come across a freeze dried camping meal in your backpacking kit or at least heard about it. Why? Because vegetables, meats, grains, stews, and virtually any kind of food taste great after being freeze dried. The result is simply magical. Not only does this preservation process maintain food quality and nutrients, but it makes the product bare bones lightweight and super easy to transport. How does such a process work, you might wonder? Still, these are the foods that allegedly allow us to save money while climbers atop the world's highest mountains need to ship in tons of pillows of freeze-dried Iraqi produce. Then, they dye it orange and call it a carrot, and red and fried and called…..meat Joe Liuzzo, a health-conscious expat with a background as an executive chef who dared to make his own freeze dried food in Thailand, shares his experience:

The Convenience of Freeze Dried Meals

Lightweight and Easy to Carry

As any backpacker will tell you, the lighter the packing, the better. That’s because, unlike other forms of food dehydration, freeze drying removes around 98 per cent of the food’s water. Weight and space are of the essence, so for camper, trekker and explorer, every once-heavy ounce counts. That’s why when we go away we always make sure we take enough sockeye.

Nutritional Value

Thanks to a remarkable combination of physics and chemistry, despite their weightlessness, freeze dried meals aren’t nutritionally weightless – the process retains most of a food’s nutrients, and the energy to explore will be yours.

Long Shelf Life

You can save these meals for a long time too. Properly sealed, the meals stay good for years. They make a good excursion food for long camping trips or as part of your bug-out bag.

How Freeze Drying Works

The Freeze Drying Process

During the process of freeze drying, the food is frozen, before having the surrounding pressure reduced and then the water removed by sublimation. In this conversion from solid to gas, there are no crystalising ice molecules that could destroy the food’s structure and nutrient composition.

Retaining Nutrients and Flavors

One of the crucial advantages of freeze drying is that it preserves the taste and nutritional value of the food: during the process only ice-water is removed from the product. As a result, all the vitamins, minerals and flavour stay exactly the same and, when the product is rehydrated, it can revive very close to its original state, which is absolutely crucial for those who like to enjoy their food choices during their adventures.

 Top Choices for Freeze Dried Meals

Breakfast Options

Start the day with a large breakfast. Options range from scrambled eggs and bacon to granola with milk and berries. A few minutes with hot water is all you need to rehydrate.

Lunch and Dinner Options

There’s also a chicken and rice meal, pasta primavera, beef stew, and so much more, for lunch and dinner.

Advantages of Freeze Dried Meals

Saves Backpack Space

Freeze dried food fit into your pack much more easily than plain old food – in flat pouches rather than bulky packages with embedded air.

Quick to Prepare

These meals are quick and easy to assemble, as in boil water, douse, and wait about 10 minutes and eat. You can be dead on your feet at darkness, point-one, but have food in your belly a few minutes later.

Versatile Menu Options

The variety of meals is also an advantage. You can choose from vegetarian, gluten-free, with or without meat, and other options.

Tips on Choosing the Right Freeze Dried Meals

Consider Your Dietary Needs

Take a minute to work out your dietary needs and restrictions before you buy – there are vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, dairy-free and a lot of other options available through brands.

Check the Ingredients

Be sure to check the ingredient list. Most freeze dried meals are nutritious, but some do contain preservatives or high levels of sodium. Look for meals with ingredients you can recognise.

Know Your Taste Preferences

But be aware that each pair has its own taste: what you might like, others might dislike. It could be handy to purchase a few dishes when you get there and try a taste for yourself.

 DIY Freeze Dried Meals: Is it Possible?

Equipment Needed

You need to use a freeze dryer to make your own frosee dried meals, these are quite a costly item, but if you tend to go camping or backpacking, then it might be a worthwhile investment.

The DIY Process

It involves prepping and then freezing your meal, then placing it in the machine to remove the moisture. It takes time, but you get to control ingredients and portions.

Pros and Cons

Sure, DIY freeze drying lets you exercise some control, but it is a time-consuming process, and the equipment is pricey. For most campers and backpackers, there is no choice but to buy pre-made freeze dried meals.

Popular Brands of Freeze Dried Meals

There are many brands available featuring freeze dried meals, with a huge selection available. Some examples are: Mountain House, Backpacker’s Pantry, Good To-Go and the list goes on. With these brands, there are all sorts of combinations to cater to your food preferences and palette.

Packing Tips for Backpackers

Quantity Vs Quality

I’m not just talking about cramming one’s pantry with the maximum possible amount of food. I’m talking about packing the pantry with the right types of food. Quality always has to come before quantity when packing your meals.

Balancing Weight

When packing, forestall blister issues by balancing your pack weight. Avoid bringing more food than you need without a plan for leaving excess mass (is a raccoon skittish if you toss food at it?). Rotate meal choices to provide variance in weight.

Keeping Meals Safe

Keep your dried meal safe and dry. Use a waterproof bag, and store your meals outside of your tent to keep them from the rain.

Rehydrating and Preparing Freeze Dried Meals

Required Equipment

To prepare your meal, you'll need a source of heat, a pot

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *