How to Rehydrate Freeze-Dried Food

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.

4 Tips To Rehydrate Freeze-Dried Food (Preparing and Cooking) 

1. Eat the Freeze-Dried Food Dry

Is it okay to eat freeze-dried food dry without doing anything to it?

The answer is YES!

You can eat any and all of your freeze-dried foods as they are, there is no need to rehydrate them. Unlike many dehydrated foods, freeze-dried foods are not tough to chew.

They are completely dry and almost fragile and will crumble in your hands.

The meats are all pre-cooked and then freeze-dried so they are safe (I actually really enjoy the sausage as a snack).

The freeze-dried fruits and many of the dried veggies are delicious and very healthy. We completely replaced fruit snacks at our house with freeze-dried fruits and veggies. The first time my kids tasted the freeze-dried corn, they asked if it was candy!

Another favorite is dried yogurt. It is very sweet (almost too sweet for me)!

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. Do Not Over Hydrate Your Freeze Dried Food

The first time I tried to hydrate freeze-dried raspberries, I put them in a bowl of water, let them sit, and then drained them. They ended up so soggy I could not eat them.

They worked okay for soups/sauces but didn’t taste like a fresh raspberry at all.

Also, when you drain off the water, you also drain off a bunch of water-soluble vitamins. One big plus to freeze-dried foods is that they are so nutritious. Over “watering” them negates this benefit.

The best way to hydrate most freeze-dried foods is to add just enough water that it starts to “pool” at the bottom. Then, stir every so often. For most foods, this will be enough to reconstitute it to be as close to fresh as possible.

You may need a bit more water for the meats.

3. Don’t Always Hydrate Your Food First

If you are using your ingredients in a recipe, in many cases you will not need to hydrate them first. They will often become rehydrated during the cooking process from liquids in the recipe.

This is why I usually recommend not to hydrate your freeze-dried food right away. Make sure it is not needed or you will have some really soggy food!

But there are some instances where you will want to actually hydrate them first.

This is especially true if the foods:

  1. Will not be in the water while cooking (like the filling of an enchilada)
  2. If they will be sitting in a thick sauce (like a creamy casserole filling) instead of a “watery” sauce (like broth or enchilada sauce).

In those two cases, you should hydrate your ingredients first and then add them to the recipe just like you would fresh foods.

But if the food will be covered in liquid while cooking (like soup or spaghetti sauce etc), just throw in all the ingredients, add about 2-4 tablespoons of extra water for every cup of freeze-dried food and let it simmer!

4. Don’t Overcook Your Meat

If you are wondering how to rehydrate freeze dried meat, it is easy, but stay away from water that is too hot.

While everything will hydrate faster in hotter water, I don’t suggest using boiling or even hot water with your meat.

Remember, freeze-dried 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.

Types of Best Freeze-Dried Foods

What are some of these incredible freeze-dried foods, then?

They are around us everyday, and we may never notice! If you are looking to find some good foods to buy freeze fried, here are a few ideas.

  • Coffee – This is great news for many. Being able to freeze and unfreeze coffee keeps up fresh and delicious, as well as allows you to keep it in bulk to fuel your addiction.
  • Dairy – There are tons of kinds of milk and creamers (for said coffee, above) that are kept freeze-dried. Though this may not be the ideal situation, they last a lot longer than liquids!
  • Noodles and pastas – These are delicious. Most kinds of pasta you purchase in-store are freeze-dried and need to be rehydrated in order to come back to life. One of my favorite of these is ramen noodles, which is a cheap pastime for many.
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Becky is a wildlife enthusiast and pet and livestock care expert with a diploma in canine nutrition. With over a decade of experience in animal welfare, Becky lends her expertise to Simple Family Preparedness through insightful info about pets, livestock, bee keeping, and the practicalities of homesteading.

18 thoughts on “How to Rehydrate Freeze-Dried Food”

  1. Excellent information, and presented (questions asked and answered) so very well! Just starting my research into the value (beginning to think ‘necessity’ of freeze drying, and your blog has given me much, and very encouraging, information. Thank you so much,

  2. Have tried to rehydrate freeze-dried brownies. Have found it impossible to rehydrate them more than about a third of the way in. Any ideas?

    • You sure they have been freeze dried and not dehydrated? Sounds more like the latter to me.
      Give it a try and put them in a sealed container or bag with a spoon-full of water, then let them sit for a few hours. If they have been dehydrated too hot they won’t rehydrate even then.
      Good luck.

  3. Hi Misty, I just found you and love you already. I wanted to know if you could suggest a brand of freeze dryer. I hear so many bad things about Harvest Rite
    and I cant seem to find any other brand other than out of the country. any suggestions?

    • Unfortunately the people who have or think they have a problem are the loudest! We have a Harvest Right and have had zero issues. One question to ask when listening to negative remarks is how old is their machine. Mine is fairly new and very intuitive. We had a power outage one night while the machine was running and the next morning when I went down it told me what to do! If you are on FB there is a Harvest Right page, ask people questions concerning you! Love my Harvest Right

      • I also love my Harvest Right freeze dryer. I spent more money and opted for the oilless pump because I know I need things to be as simple as possible. I have had no problems with mine. I have a friend who isn’t the biggest fan of hers because of having to do the oil changes.

  4. I generally am cooking for 2. For cost sake, I purchased several 2+ ounce bags of freeze dried vegetables. Is it possible to break down the larger bags into smaller vacuum sealed bags with an oxygen absorber in each bag? Do you know what that does to the shelf life?

  5. Misty~
    Your blog is an excellent example of how a blog should look. It is easy to navigate. There was no need to wade through ads as you try and read the content. All ads are lined up on one side of the page and are there to read if one wants to do so. I won’t even try to read the content of most blogs and I will not subscribe to blogs where the info is peppered with ads. Thank you for a nice experience and the content is great! Sign me up!
    My freeze dryer arrived this last week and I can’t wait to try it. I look forward to reading more of your great blog on preparedness.
    ~ Nora

    • Yay! Thank you so much for your very kind comment Nora! I’ve tried having ads before and it just isn’t worth it to me. I want those on my site to be able to find what they are looking for and not feel distracted / bombarded. I’m glad you appreciate it. Enjoy that freeze dryer!

  6. i will be receiving my Harvest Right Freeze dryer next week. i can hardly wait. so im looking for ideas on what to do. im just like you except for being a grandma. thank you for your wonderful tips. God Bless you. kathleen

  7. Hello Misty,
    I am about to invest in an emergency food supply, and my question is, if dried eggs come in a large pouch for 25 plus meals, how do I store what I do not use, once the pouch is open? Also, assuming the electricity may not be available, does the leftover eggs need to be refrigerated? Thank you…Barbara

    • Yes, the leftover eggs (if cooked up) should be refrigerated or all eaten at once. If it is just the powder though, it should stay good in even a ziploc for a week to two though I can’t be sure since I don’t know what brand / food you are talking about specifically. The brand I buy (Thrive) come in a #10 can and once opened, they can just stay in that can for up to a year as a powder.

  8. do you think it is okay to put freeze dried vegetables in ground turkey to make a meatloaf for my shitzu. dog. will cooking on 350degreeas for 50 minutes or so for the meatloaf and veggies cause loss of nutrition in the dried veggies. Thank you

    • That would work very well Mary! Any heat will cause a loss of nutrient in any veggies (freeze dried or otherwise), but they will still have quite a bit of nutrition. Go for it!

  9. When I make chicken salad with the freeze dried chicken I don’t add much water at all because I’m going to be adding some mayo and a bit of mustard for a kick to the chicken, onion and celery.

  10. I am with you on the Pomegranate Yogurt! Boy is it delish!

    I tried the blueberry yogurt today when my current shipment arrived and didn’t find it to be as good. Won’t be ordering that again.

    I have completely replaced fresh carrots and celery as well as all of my tomato sauce, paste and spaghetti sauce with the freeze dried carrots celery and the tomato powder. The tomato dices are also a regular this time of year. Yum in cooking for sure! No one can tell what was fresh and what is freeze dried. I am hooked!

    They are terrific since we live in a 5th wheel full time and need to watch the weight of the items we choose to load into the camper.

    I am so glad that I found your blog and won that gift certificate!

    Merry Christmas!


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