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:
- Will not be in the water while cooking (like the filling of an enchilada)
- 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.