The first time I opened a box full of freeze dried food, I would have loved to have a “Tips for Using Freeze Dried Foods” list. I clearly remember opening that first box. The first thing I saw was the raspberries and I wondered what to do with them. I had no idea. I think many of you have had the same experience since I get many emails each week asking me what to do with their food. While it really is quite simple, there can be a learning curve. I hope you find these basic tips for using your freeze dried food helpful.
1. Eat it Dry!
At least a few times a week, someone asks me if it is okay to eat their freeze dried food dry. The answer is YES! You can eat any / all of your freeze dried foods dry. Unlike many dehydrated foods, freeze dried foods are not tough to chew. They are completely dry and almost fragile. They will crumble in your hands.
The meats are all pre-cooked and then freeze dried so they are safe (though not the tastiest!). The fruits, and many of the veggies are actually delicious dry. We completely replaced fruit snacks at our house with freeze dried fruits and veggies. The first time my kids tasted the corn, they asked if it was candy! The produce really is a great nutritious snack.
Another favorite item to try dry is the yogurt. It is very sweet! My favorite is the pomegranate.
I like all the fruit and many of the veggies dry, but these are my absolute five favorite items to eat dry:
- Freeze Dried Corn
- Freeze Dried Peach Slices
- Freeze Dried Pineapple
- Freeze Dried Red Grapes
- Freeze Dried Pomegranate Yogurt Bites
A quick word of warning: if you do choose to eat a lot of freeze dried food dry, make sure you drink extra water. Typically, when you eat fresh food, especially produce, it has water in it which helps aid in digestion. When you eat freeze dried dry, there is absolutely no water. If you eat a lot of it without extra water, you will have some digestive problems. (-:
2. Hydrate with less water than you think
The first time I tried to hydrate those raspberries, I put them in a bowl of water, let them sit and then drained them. They were sopping and soggy. They worked okay for soups / sauces, but didn’t taste much like a fresh raspberry.
Now instead, if food is very fragile (like many of the fruits, the cheese etc.), I put the it in a bowl / bag and spray it with water: just enough that it starts pooling on the bottom. I place it in the fridge and stir it every few minutes until it is well hydrated.
You can see Chef Todd using this method with the cheese in this video here.
For foods that are less fragile (the meats mostly), I still hydrate in a bowl of water and then drain.
3. Don’t always hydrate first
There are a few situations where you do not need to hydratethe food first. My rule of thumb is that if it will be covered in liquid while cooking for at least 15 minutes, I don’t hydrate it first. Instead I just add about 2-4 T. extra water for every cup of freeze dried food that I add.
4. Don’t overcook your meat!
While everything will hydrate faster in hotter water, I don’t suggest using boiling or even hot water with your meat. Remember, the meat is pre-cooked and then freeze dried. If you boil it again, you will overcook it. In my opinion, this gives it an odd texture. So, even though it takes longer, I choose to hydrate my meats in warm or even cold water and then add them to whatever I’m cooking.
Any one have any suggestions they’d like to add?