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Dehydrating fruit, vegetables and meat has been a process of food preservation for thousands of years using two sources of free and readily available forms of energy: sun and wind. Over time the use of heat in the form of small, closely controlled fires in “still houses”were created to dry items in areas that did not have enough strong sunlight for drying. Sometimes these fires added the element of smoking as well. Today, dehydrating can be done with the same free energy sources or by using a drying machine which slowly heats and drys thin slices. Dehydrating removes about 90-95% of the moisture content.  Once dried, food should be stored in air tight containers.

freeze drying

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Freeze drying began centuries ago as well with the Incas taking food to high mountain locations where the food froze overnight and then were dried slowly during the day. Today, the process occurs in an electrical machine that freezes the food and then, in a vacuum chamber, slowly increases the temperature to dehydrate it. The food is then nitrogen sealed to protect it from moisture and oxygen. Sealed like this, freeze dried foods can last for many years. The preservation process removes moisture without damaging the nutritional value. There are home freeze dryers on the market today that range in cost from $3,000-8,000.00. This equipment does require more energy than canning and freezing, but freeze dried products do not require additional energy to store. Protein sources like meat, fish and poultry preserved in a freeze dried form have increased shelf life and nutritional value. Be sure to freeze dry them as soon as they have been cooked and cooled. If you keep them in the fridge for a few days, they’ll taste like leftovers when reconstituted. Freeze drying removes 98-99% of moisture. Using dehydrated or freeze dried foods simply requires adding water. Easy peasy …


The advantages of having these items in your food storage include:

  • long term storage of difficult to store food sources, with nutritional value intact (some are advertized to last 25-30 years)
  • light weight if you need to move them
    freeze dried foods rehydrate quickly and regains its original fresh flavor, aroma and texture

The disadvantages include:

  • Cost of food may not be cost effective for certain foods
  • Equipment is expensive
  • Not all foods can be freeze dried
  • Moisture control in storage is necessary

Billie Nicholson, Editor
February 2017

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