We have briefly introduced some Difference Between Dehydrating and Freeze Drying? in previous articles, this article continues to explain in depth Difference Between Dehydrating and Freeze Drying?
Shelf Life of Dehydrated and Freeze Dried Foods
How long do these foods last in storage? The estimates I’ve found for dehydrated food storage are all over the place. On the Excalibur website, they give an expected shelf life of 20 years for apples, but only five years for “fruit”. Odd. For veggies they claim 8 to 10 years, and don’t offer estimates on meat. Other sites suggest no more than 2-3 months for meats, 1-2 years for other dehydrated foods. In my own experience, after about 3 years, dehydrated fruits and vegetables start to darken and lose flavor. (I keep them cool and out of direct light, vacuum sealed in mason jars.)
The shelf life of properly stored freeze dried foods is nearly universally agreed on as longer. Freeze dried low fat content foods like fruits, vegetables, lean meat, rice, noodles, ect. have a shelf life of 20+ years when packaged properly. Higher fat freeze dried foods and meats have a 10-15 year shelf life. Some commercial freeze dried products are now claiming 30+ year storage life. I’ll have to update this post in about 20 years to let you know how my storage turns out.
Dehydrator Versus Freeze Dryer – Comparing Equipment
For home food drying, there are a range of equipment options available – including no equipment at all, as mentioned above. You can build your own unit, use a Sun Oven or other solar dryer, or buy an electric dehydrator. Commercial dehydrator costs range from less than a hundred dollars at the low end for small units with temperature control, to hundreds of dollars for the high capacity stainless steel models.
As long as your set up can provide warmth and dry air, it’ll probably work. Results may be less than ideal. I have friends in warm humid areas that could not dry larger food pieces without molding in a budget model with no temp control. (I do not recommend electric dehydrators without a temperature control for this reason. If you’re going to get a dehydrator, get one that does the job right.)
You can learn more about dehydrator types in the post Home Food Drying – 6 Things You Need to Know to Dehydrate Food at Home.
For home freeze drying, at the time of this post, there’s only one company making home units. (This is to the best of my knowledge. If you know of another manufacturer, let me know.). That company is Harvest Right out of Salt Lake City, Utah.
As mentioned above, the process of freeze drying is significantly more complicated than dehydrating. The drying chamber must form a perfect vacuum. Materials inside the unit must be able to withstand extreme cold and moderate heat, and to swing between the two. The sensors need to be able to determine when to cycle the machine. There are significantly more moving parts and higher performance demands. As such, the price point is significantly higher. The smallest units start at under $2000, the largest units are just under $3000.
Dehydrating or Freeze Drying – Which is Better?
A freeze dryer is a big investment, but it’s the only way to create truly long term shelf stable storage foods at home. If you plan to rotate stock more frequently and don’t want to preserve meat and dairy, then a dehydrator can probably get the job done.
I still use a variety of food storage techniques, and I don’t plan to change that. Canning, fermenting, drying, freeze drying, freezing, root cellaring – each method brings something different to the table. The flavors and textures are different, how we use the food is different. I like having options.
I think of our freeze dryer as a type of food insurance. While we have been enjoying freeze dried snacks and quick meals, I’m also tucking food away for long term storage. Food prices keep creeping up, and the last time my husband lost his job, it took around a year to find a new position. I feel better knowing that we have some of the basics covered.
More information about Dehydrating or Freeze Drying – Which is Better, please check freeze dry machine site: GuanFeng is your specialist in drying techniques and all your partner for Freeze Dry Machine . The great variety of drying processes enables Guanfeng to always give good and honest customized advice and help you decide which machine best matches your requirements.Please contact us or check below link: https://www.gf-machine.com/ if you have any question.