Survival Food Supplies: 5 Reasons To Consider Freeze Dried Food
Damilare Macaulay on April 14, 2017
Life is uncertain. Disaster strikes when we least expect it. But those who survive and seem to recover quicker are those who’ve prepared for the worst case scenario. One of the ways to get prepared is by building a disaster supplies kit that will help mitigate the shock and impact of disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes and the likes. One key aspect of the kit should include survival food supplies.
As preppers, I am sure you already have your basic disaster supplies kit. But if not, here’s a quick run-down of the items you can add:
- At least three days’ supply of clean water (one gallon per person)
- At least three days’ supply of non-perishable food
- Flashlight and extra batteries
- A first aid kit for minor emergencies and be sure to include prescription drugs you will need
- A whistle to signal for help
- Battery-powered or hand crank radio along with a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert. Keep extra batteries for both
- Cell phones with chargers, an inverter or solar charger and possibly a power bank, etc.
While everything listed above is essential, food remains an important item, especially for long-term survival. Some experts suggest that at least a three-day stock of survival food supplies should be included in your disaster-preparedness kit. However, sometimes the impact of a disaster lasts much longer, and additional supplies might be required.
Freeze-dried foods are a great option to considering when deciding on which survival food supplies to include in your kit. This article looks at five reasons why freeze-dried foods should be included in your survival food supplies.
What Are Freeze-Dried Foods?
Freeze-Dried Foods are specially preserved foods that have gone through a three-part process of intense frozen dehydration, called Lyophilization, which removes about 99.9% of water from food items. This three-part process includes freezing, primary drying (sublimation), and secondary drying. The food is first frozen, then placed in a vacuum, where the ice turns into water vapor, and then dried again, resulting in a perfectly dehydrated food that lasts up to 25 years.
How the Freeze-Drying Process Works
The three-step process involved in freeze-drying food items include the following steps:
Freezing: This is the first, and most critical, step in the whole process. The [cooked] food items are frozen below its eutectic temperature to ensure that the materials that make up the food are also frozen. This allows for sublimation, instead of melting, to occur during the primary drying process.
While freezing, some food products form a glassy material, and a process called annealing may be required. This process works by first lowering the temperature, then raising it, then lowering it again. What this does is that it locks the food constituents in place, thus allowing the crystals to grow. Depending on the application and type of food, freezing can range from 1 hour to 24 hours.
Primary Drying: This is the second step in the freeze-drying process, and it involves using two variables (temperature and pressure), to extract the liquid from the frozen food. This process, which is also called sublimation, works similarly to defrosting. But instead of the ice crystals melting away, it vaporizes due to the lowered pressure and added heat. The amount of heat added, however, must be balanced because too much heat might damage the product. Just enough heat is needed for the ice to sublime.
Since the food’s molecules have been crystallized, the sublimation process eliminates about 95% of all moisture contained within the food. This process lasts several hours, and sometimes even days, depending on the amount of food being processed.
Secondary Drying: This is the final stage in the three-step process of freeze-drying food items. After the sublimation that occurred during the primary drying stage, some unfrozen liquid molecules will still be present in the food that needs to be extracted. During the secondary drying process, pressure is further lowered, and the temperature (heat) is increased (usually much higher than in the primary drying process) in order to remove the remaining liquid molecules contained within the food item.
Once completed, secondary drying often depletes the liquid levels to 0.5%, thus making the food last longer.
5 Reasons Why Freeze-Dried Food Should Be Included In Your Survival Food Supplies
Freeze-dried foods have many benefits. These benefits make them a healthy choice of non-perishables to include in your survival food supplies. Listed below are some of the most important benefits.
Freeze-Dried Foods are Easy to Prepare
Freeze-dried foods are very easy to prepare, and they don’t require many cooking utensils. All you need in most cases is just water to reconstitute the food. This is in contrast to dehydrated foods that usually take hours before being able to be eaten and that need fire to cook; or frozen foods that need electricity to be preserved. Most freeze-dried foods are ready to eat within minutes – all they need is water (hot or cold). This makes it an excellent choice of food to have in an emergency.
Another good thing about freeze-dried food is the variety of food available to you. This is because you can pretty much freeze-dry any type of food. Listed below are some of the food items that can be freeze-dried:
- Fruits such as avocados, berries, etc.
- Meat, Chicken, and Turkey
- Fish and Seafood
- And even full meals such as Beef Stroganoff with Noodles, or Granola with Milk & Blueberries
But while most foods can be freeze-dried, large fruits and vegetables should be cut into chunks first. The same goes for meat and poultry; smaller chunks freeze-dry really well, compared to larger pieces.
Pro Tip: Most freeze-dried foods are already cooked before being sealed and packaged. All you need to do is add water to reconstitute it. But if you’re considering a DIY freeze-drying method, then make sure you cook your meat and poultry before freeze-drying so you that they’re ready to be eaten during an emergency.
Freeze-Dried Foods Retain 95% of its Taste and Nutritional Value
When you’re preparing for a disaster, you need to consider the taste and nutritional value of the food items you’re storing. Studies have revealed that freeze dried foods, unlike dehydrated or canned foods, retain most of its nutritional and taste value because of the low heat used during the primary drying process. The process of first freezing the food item (and the water molecules within it), before turning the ice into vapour during the primary and secondary drying stages, helps lock nutrients and flavour in much better than other food preservative methods.
Having access to highly nutritional food is essential for the following reasons:
- Depending on the type and impact of the disaster that occurs, buying food might be impossible for days, or even weeks. Access to good food is essential during such a time.
- Low energy levels and stress are common symptoms for most people after a disaster. Availability of nutritional food (containing vitamins and minerals) can help to manage that problem.
Pro Tip: While freeze-dried foods retain most of its taste and nutritional value, however, it doesn’t retain its size. Take this into consideration when storing items like fruits and vegetables that give energy and vitality.
Freeze-Dried Foods Have a Longer Shelf-Life When Compared to Other Preservative Methods
Shelf-life is another important factor to consider when you’re deciding which food items to include in your survival food supplies. When stockpiling food, you expect them to last as long as possible. The last thing you want is to find out that the canned food you stored in your survival food supplies has expired. To avoid such scenarios, it is advisable to pack foods with a long shelf-life.
Dehydrated and freeze-dried foods have the longest shelf lives presently. Freeze-dried foods have a shelf-life of about 25 years, retain most of its nutritional value, and can easily be prepared. Four major factors affect the shelf-life of any food item:
When food is exposed to any (or all) of these factors, it is most likely to spoil. Most freeze-dried food companies have already done the hard work of sealing and packaging the food. You, however, need to keep it stored in a cool, dry place, preferably between 40 – 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The key to proper storage is to maintain a constant temperature.
Pro Tip: While some freeze-dried food companies claim their products have between 20 – 30 years of shelf-life unopened, and up to two weeks after opening, it is in your best interest to make sure you store your food properly. Proper storage can increase the shelf-life of any preserved food, regardless of the preservation process.
Freeze-Dried Foods Are Lightweight and Take-up less Storage Space
Weight and storage space are two crucial factors to consider when choosing which food items to store in your survival food supplies.
Ideally, the food items you choose should be easy to handle, easy to transport and doesn’t take up too much storage space. This is essential in case of an emergency evacuation, where you need to quickly “bug out.” Canned foods are heavy and frozen foods thaw out after a day without power.
Freeze-dried foods, on the other hand, are lightweight and they take up less storage space as a result of being condensed and vacuum sealed. Moisture is the primary reason most foods are heavy – they make up about 60% to 70% of the food weight, but freeze-drying removes up about 98% of that water content.
If you’re considering freeze-drying your own food, then the following are excellent tips for storing your freeze-dried food to ensure that it lasts as long as it should.
- Choose a container to pack your freeze-dry food. You can use mylar bags, vacuum sealed plastic bags or canning jars. Ensure the containers you plan to use are rigid and can withstand impact in the case of earthquakes, etc.
- Oxygen, just like moisture, causes food to spoil. To solve that, use oxygen absorbers to make sure your food lasts longer and tastes fresh.
- Make sure you seal your freeze-dried food to keep it from contamination. For mylar bags, an inexpensive impulse sealer will do the job. If you’re using jars, just seal it tight. The oxygen absorbers will get rid of the extra air within the containers.
Pro Tip: You can store up to a years’ supply of freeze-dried food without sacrificing space. But before stocking up, consider getting samples and trying different brands to make sure you’re satisfied with the product. But if you decide to go the DIY route, you can purchase a home freeze-drying machine and create your own packs.
Freeze-Dried Foods Are Cost Efficient and Useful in Financial Emergencies
Although freeze-dried foods are generally more expensive than canned, fresh or dehydrated foods, they are cost efficient in the long run. When investing in freeze-dried food, consider the long shelf-life they offer and how much you will save in the long-term. You no longer need to continually restock your survival food supplies because they expire.
When storing food for an emergency, you will do well to also consider financial emergencies. Financial disasters, just like natural disasters, are often unpredictable and can occur at any time. Having a supply of healthy freeze-dried food can help you, and your family to eat tasty and nutritious meals until you’re financially able to get back on your feet.
Consider This When Buying Freeze Dried Food
Listed below are some things to consider when purchasing freeze dried food to include in your survival food supplies:
- You need to consider how many people are in your household and the average calorie needs for each person, per day. Use that information as a starting point when shopping around for which freeze-dried food product to buy.
- Consider the reputation of the company you want to buy from. Select products from companies with a good track record of providing delicious and healthy freeze-dried products. The product reviews on Amazon can be useful to collaborate that.
- Finally, you should consider the country of origin of the freeze-dried food items you want to buy. You should ask questions like where the food is grown, processed and packaged before buying. There are various freeze-dried food products in the market, but ensure you’re buying from a reputable company.
Pro Tip: Most freeze-dried food companies offer various food packages depending on budget. You can buy food to last for the recommended three-day supply for your kit, or you could stock up for the next six months. Whichever you decide to go for, don’t let price determine the quality you go for.
Survival Food Supplies and Freeze Dried Food
Preparing for disaster is a sure-fire way to avoid any nasty surprises that Mother Nature might spring up on us. Having survival food supplies is the first step towards safeguarding the interest and needs of you and your family.
What steps are you taking towards being prepared? How many days’ supply of food do you keep in your house? Share your thoughts, suggestions or questions on our Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus or LinkedIn pages; we’d love to hear from you.