Sure! Freeze-drying fruit at home is a simple method to enjoy the delicious flavors and nutritional benefits of fruit all year round.
Here’s how I do it:
- I start by selecting ripe, high-quality fruits and washing them thoroughly.
- I cut the fruit into small, even pieces to ensure uniform drying.
- I arrange the pieces on a baking sheet, making sure they don’t touch each other.
- Next, I place the tray in the freezer and leave the fruit to freeze solid, which can take a couple of days.
- Once the fruit is frozen, I use a vacuum chamber or simply keep them in the freezer to complete the drying process.
Through these steps, I can create a long-lasting supply of tasty and nutritious freeze-dried fruits. It’s a cost-effective way to preserve fruits without needing expensive equipment, and it’s a lot faster than traditional canning methods. Plus, I find the whole process incredibly gratifying, knowing I can have my favorite fruits available at any time, regardless of the season.
Dried fruit often receives the stigma of being fattening or unhealthy due to a higher concentration of sugar content and a reduction in nutrients. However, this is far from the case when it comes to freeze-dried fruit.
Not only does freezing fruit before the dehydration process preserve most of the nutritional benefits associated with the fruit, but it also avoids using sugary preservatives and juices.
Imagine adding a few freeze dried blackberries and strawberries to your favorite bowl of cereal. Those crunchy fruit crisps are excellent sources of vitamin C and minerals and are equally as tasty as their fresh fruit counterparts. Freeze-drying fruit is a great way to store food for emergencies, with the long shelf-life of stock lasting for several years when appropriately preserved.
Learning how to freeze dry fruit can be a little complicated at first. However, once you’ve grasped the concept, you’ll never again want to dry food without freezing it first. These easy-to-follow steps will get you started with the freeze-drying process and show you precisely what you need to do.
What You Should Know before Freezing Fruit
Whan you buy fresh fruit, an important consideration is longevity. How long do strawberries last? What about peaches? Many fruits can be stored in the fridge temporarily but if you have an abundance, you must turn to other preservation methods.
Both freezing and freeze-drying remove moisture from the fruit one way or another. With dried fruit, only a portion of the water from the fruit is evaporated, leaving the fruit more susceptible to bacteria growth. Because of this issue, dried fruit is only suitable for about a year.
On the other hand, freeze-dried fruit removes significantly more moisture in the freezing process and can increase shelf life by additional years. It’s an excellent way of preserving bananas and many other types of fruit.
The result for both is still a highly nutritious food source that is easier to carry around like a trail mix than the fresh alternative.
Freezing fruit alone does not remove any moisture from it. However, freezing fruit and vegetables is a perfectly acceptable way to preserve them for later eating. All you need to do then is know how to thaw frozen blueberries and other fruit to use in your favorite recipes.
How is freeze-dried different?
Another significant difference between dried and freeze-dried fruit is the use of sweeteners and fat content. Most dried fruit found in stores also adds unnecessary preservatives, sugars, or juices for a saccharinely sweet flavor.
This practice is especially prevalent in the case of freeze dried raspberries or cranberries, which may have a slight to profoundly bitter taste without the addition of sugar. Other super sweet fruit like freeze-dried mango, which is exceptionally high in sugar content, lose its nutritional value during the dehydration process in favor of high sugar concentrations.
The freeze-drying process allows you to preserve flavor and nutrition that diminishes when adding these extra calories to dried fruits. It even maintains the integrity of fruits as being gluten free, which can also change with the addition of sweeteners.
Can I rehydrate it later?
Yes! One of the best benefits of freeze-drying fruit is that it can be used separately or rehydrated for later use. Freeze-dried fruit provides a crispy texture that is tasty even without cooking. However, to add the frozen fruit to your baking dish, rehydrate it to avoid a dry, unappetizing dessert.
While restoring the moisture in fruit is as easy as adding the fruit to some boiling water, do not underestimate the integration of tasty juices and liqueurs. This will expedite the process and add that extra zest of flavor. Some consumers have even used brandy to rehydrate fruits like freeze dried apples.
How to Freeze-Dry with or without a Machine
Freeze dry fruit or freeze potatoes without drying first with a machine or by hand-packaging methods. You will be glad later that you spent the time now to preserve fruits and veggies.
Prepare Your Fresh Fruits for Freezing
Your first step in the freeze-drying process is to select, cut, and prepare your fruit. You want to choose the best, high quality fruits that are fully ripe, free from any green rinds, and still fresh. Wash and dry the food before cutting into smaller slices.
Next, place them in a single layer on a baking sheet. When making banana chips for trail mix, for example, you want to lay the banana slices one-by-one to ensure the chips are dried evenly.
Not only can you freeze fruit, you can freeze a variety of other food products, as well. For example, did you know you can freeze whole milk and cheese? You certainly can! There’s no need to worry about storing foods you get on sale when you have the freezer ready for them.
Use the Freezer
If you don’t have the resources for a vacuum sealer, or if you simply prefer not to use machinery, freezing the fruit in the freezer will work just as well. This process works exceptionally well to freeze peaches, watermelon, and other high-water content fruits.
Once you have your fresh strawberries or apple slices laid out on the baking sheet, let the fruit freeze until it is solid. Freezing apples that are already dried or even those that are not is incredibly easy.
This stage may take up to two days for fruit to harden, so checking it from time to time is necessary to gauge progress. Check by thawing one fruit at room temperature at a time. An indication that the fruit is ready is whether it turns black or not.
If the fruit maintains its color after thawing, it’s all set for the next stage. Otherwise, it hasn’t finished freeze-drying and needs to be left in longer.
Freezing fruits and vegetables is a great way to preserve them to eat later, particularly if you have the freezer space. Many of these foods can be frozen after blanching first, although you can freeze green beans without blanching and not suffer any unwelcome flavor differences.
Try a Vacuum Chamber
If you don’t plan on using a machine to complete freeze-drying your fruit, then skip ahead to step four. Otherwise, your next step includes using a vacuum chamber to finish freezing the fruit. If you want the best way to freeze dried fruit, use a vacuum chamber, which is a handy piece of machinery to add to any freeze-drying aficionado’s wishlist.
This machine warms the frozen fruit until all remaining moisture evaporates. Depending on the type of vacuum chamber you own, the device may freeze and heat the fruit for drying.
Best Methods for Storage
Once you have mastered the proper freezing techniques, you can move on to more complicated foods, like how to freeze cheese or meats. The best part about these freeze dried foods is that they can be stored almost anywhere, not just in the freezer.
After they are properly frozen and dried, package them in an airtight freezer bag or container. When you remove all the air from the bag before adding the fruit to food storage, you can leave the freeze-dried fruit in your freezer, your pantry, or anywhere you put your emergency camping supplies.
Thawing Frozen Fruits
Some fruits, like freeze dried berry varieties, don’t need to be revived with boiling water or juice the same way as freeze dried Fuji apples. Instead, placing these in the microwave for a few seconds will thaw them out quickly and have them ready to add to any yummy dish.
If you are defrosting freeze dried strawberries, however, thaw these by placing them in the refrigerator or placing them in a bowl of cold water while still in their Ziploc containers. This will prevent them from getting soft and mushy once they have had time to thaw.
Favorite Recipe with Freeze-Dried Fruits
Freeze-dried fruit is an excellent addition to trail mix and is easily transported when on-the-go. However, the use of these foods extends so much further than fruit snacks and is even a delicious flourish to holiday favorites. If you are ready to try a meal outside of the trail-mix box, then try our Dried Fruit Stuffing recipe to add spice and flavor to your family dishes.
Prepare your oven by preheating it to 350°F. Chop all the ingredients into smaller pieces, except for, of course, the chicken stock, butter, and large eggs. Saute all veggies in a skillet with butter until a lovely, golden-brown color.
Add the fruits, herbs, and sherry to the mix until the fruit becomes tender. Both steps should take approximately 15 minutes total. Add in the bread crumbs and stir until perfectly blended. Remove from heat, cover, and place in the refrigerator to cool.
Once the stuffing cools, pour in the chicken stock, along with the three eggs, already beaten and blended before adding. Place the contents in a baking pan, then cover again and bake for approximately 30 minutes.
Uncover the stuffing after 30 minutes, and allow it to cook for an additional 25 minutes. Once complete, the top should form a thin, crisp crust. The stuffing will make up to ten servings. Enjoy!
Now that you understand the freeze-drying process for some of your favorite fruits, there’s no reason not to give this new endeavor a try. Even if you aren’t an avid camper or fan of the survivalist emergency food storage, who wouldn’t want a supply of fruit to munch on when the time calls for it?
Freezing dried fruit means you have access to these yummy treats year-round, even when certain fruits go out of season. So stock up today, and freeze some fruit for tomorrow!
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning how to freeze dry fruit with us. If you did, remember to share this freeze dried fruit tutorial with your camping buddies, survivalist friends, and all-around fruit-lovers on Facebook and Pinterest.