The Role of Freeze Dried Food in Your Survival Food Storage

I want to thank our new sponsor, EMac’s Tactical and Survival Shop. EMac writes:

I try to focus my website around Self-Reliance and Survival. Having the ability to sustain oneself and your loved ones is paramount in any situation. Be it hurricanes, flooding, tornadoes, other natural disasters; heaven forbid something else such as a terrorist attack, deadly virus, etc. – being unprepared can not be an option. Please stop by and visit us!

Eric – Owner

Today’s post was written and scheduled before EMac purchased an ad. I would also suggest his site if you are considering freeze dried food in addition to our other advertisers. Thanks for visiting our sponsors.

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I said once that Mountain House #10 Cans are not worth the money when compared to the bulk food you can buy and store in food grade buckets. While I still believe that, freeze dried food still has a place in the prepper’s SHTF food pantry.

Freeze dried foods packed in airtight #10 cans typically have a shelf-life in the range of 25 years – 25 years! Freeze drying food, sometimes called lyophilization consists of 3 phases: 1) initial freezing, 2) primary drying (sublimation), and 3) a secondary drying that eliminates the final traces of water. The basic premise is that removing water from food will keep the food from spoiling for a long period of time. Food spoils when microorganisms feed on matter and decompose it. These microorganisms need water to survive – no water – no spoilage.

Dehydrating food is easy to do, but dehydrating still leaves about 5-10% of the food’s water. Dehydration will slow down bacteria activity, but it won’t stop it. Further, the heat required to evaporate the water in the dehydration process changes the food’s composition. The difference with freeze drying food is that it “locks in” the food’s composition by freezing the food first and not subjecting it to the same heat levels associated with dehydration. The water is turned to ice through the freezing process and then removed by turning it into vapor. This leaves freeze dried food with less shrinkage and better retention of flavor and nutritional values. Freeze dried foods can also be rehydrated (reconstituted) more quickly, because as the ice crystals become vapor, it leaves behind tiny pores in its place. These pores allow the water to penetrate more quickly.

For long-term food storage, food grade buckets full of wheat, beans, rice, etc. is the single cost-effective way to acquire and store large quantities of food. Unfortunately, not all foods can be effectively stored this way. Maintaining a pantry stocked with food you eat on a regular basis (and rotating that stock) is the best way to store foods with a shorter shelf-life, but many people want to stock enough food to survive beyond the shelf-life of many grocery store purchased foods. Freeze dried food can fill the gap between pantry foods with a shelf-life and foods that can’t be stored like wheat and beans.

Case in point – when our kids were very young we purchased several boxes of instant milk in the event a short-term catastrophe struck and we couldn’t access fresh milk. Instant milk isn’t my favorite thing to drink and it was purchased solely for a “just in case” scenario; not something we use regularly, so we never rotated the stock. This past summer when I was moving storage shelves around I picked those boxes and noticed the expiration date had passed by over 12 months!

I’d forgotten how long it had been – I threw the boxes out. The money was wasted. Enter – freeze dried instant milk with a 25 year shelf life! Freeze dried food represents the ultimate “set it and forget it” food. For many people, they can buy it once and leave it stored for an unforeseen emergency.

Here are recent, freeze dried acquisitions in my food storage pantry:

I’d be a hypocrite if I asked readers to frequent SHTF Blog advertisers and didn’t do it myself. Picture above are recent arrivals – a box of freeze dried strawberries from Freeze Dry Guy (an order I split with Jarhead Survivor) and an order of “chocolate drink” and instant milk from Shelf Reliance.

Knowing that kids are more picky eaters than adults, I thought having strawberries on hand in a SHTF situation would go over well with the kids. The same principal applied to the chocolate drink choice. I plan to add more freeze dried foods to our storage shelves as money permits, with a particular focus on foods that don’t store well in other situations. Next on the purchase list is freeze dried cheese, which will be a valuable addition due to the fat content if nothing else.

Do you do freeze dry?

– Ranger Man

11 comments… add one
  • Spook45 February 10, 2011, 8:34 am

    I want some CMMG tactical bacon!……

    Reply
  • Judith February 10, 2011, 10:27 am

    Do you mean do I buy freeze dried food?

    Yes, about 1/4 of my storage is Mt. House and Alpine Aire. It is expensive, but more secure with that long shelf life in my preps.
    I also like the milk from Grandmas Country Kitchen in Sandy Utah.
    Has a great taste nothing like powdered milk yuk.

    Reply
  • LindaG February 10, 2011, 12:02 pm

    I’m with Judith….while most of my stored foods are canned and dried foods like rice, wheat, beans, etc., I felt a most secure feeling when my cans of freeze dried meat arrived from Mt. House. And yes, it was expensive. I know it won’t taste that great, but the way I look at it, if I have to break into those stores, it’s because meat is unavailable or way too expensive. My thoughts were the freeze-dried meats could help spice up the rice, beans, etc. I’ll have to try Grandmas milk. I have some powdered milk that I’ve put by, but would feel a little more comfortable having it in already sealed #10 cans. I can’t stress the comfort of knowing you can put freeze-dried foods in a corner and it will last 25 years. It’s there if I need it…I pray I never do.

    Reply
  • ChefBear58 February 10, 2011, 8:43 pm

    A little trick I learned while my family was stationed in Panama for making the instant milk taste better… Add 1/2 can of sweetened condensed or if you don’t have that, evaporated milk to 2 quarts mixed powdered milk. The powdered milk tends to taste watery and bland, this is because a lot of the lactase and fat are removed, by adding the sweetened condensed milk you add some of the sugars (lactase is milk sugar) and fat back into it. The evaporated milk will help to “deepen” the milk flavor, cutting some of the watery taste.

    Freeze dried meat is a great option to help make more bland foodstuffs palatable, think of the way folks in the Mediterranean use meat. It’s used more as a flavor enhancer for carbohydrates than as a centerpiece of a meal. Simply adding some freeze dried chicken and some stock can help to make boring old rice taste better. Add in some fresh vegetables or foraged edible plants for better mineral/vitamin content, and it will also help to add more flavor. Another decent, yet bland freeze dried food option is TVP (textured vegetable protein, usually de-fated soy). It’s cheap and when added to rice/beans makes a complete protein. Also check the ingredients of the freeze-dried “meats” you buy, *MOST* of the ones I have found are processed “mechanically separated” meat with TVP added. Some of them have more TVP than they do actual meat, so shop around and get your moneys worth! The higher quality freeze-dried meat might cost a little more, but in the long run you will get more “bang for your buck”. The higher actual meat content, the less you will need to develop a good “meaty” flavor profile, it will also more than likely have less additives and be a healthier alternative.

    Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are also a better option than canned ones, because they retain their color, flavor, texture and vitamin/mineral content better than the canned stuff does. Most canned fruits/vegetables actually loose a lot of their nutrients to the water they are canned in, so to get the most nutritional value out of canned goods you need to ingest the liquid they are packed in as well. One thing to remember, *MOST* of the vegetables you would use for flavoring dishes (i.e. garlic, onion, shallot, celery, bell pepper, ect) can be found in dried form at your local grocery store. If they don’t have them look for an Asian market near you, they will have a wider variety of dried fruits/vegetables than your average grocery store and are usually cheaper. For example, I buy a 1.5lb container of dried shallots (peeled, sliced, dried) for $4.99, in contrast fresh shallots usually run about $2.99/lb around here and you are paying for inedible parts such as the skins and roots. Most major cities should have a pretty good Asian market, another option is Latin markets, which will also usually have bulk dried herbs/spices for much cheaper than the average grocery store.

    Reply
  • Liberty February 10, 2011, 9:10 pm

    Jumbo Tote Bag – SHTF Fashion – Printfection.com –I just got my Jumbo Tote Bag in the mail :-) Actually it’s not for me, Our rug-rat is going to give it to his Mom for Valintine’s Day. It’s nice & big–zippered at the top + small zippered compartment inside near the top. Nice product ! Maybe put a more prominent link on the website. BEANS & BULLETTS & BAND AIDS. YouTube – Gun Control (Gimmie back my bullets)

    Reply
    • Ranger Man February 10, 2011, 9:29 pm

      LOL – did it take them long enough or what! Thanks, Liberty.

      Reply
  • sanityjones February 10, 2011, 11:14 pm

    I have kept my freeze dried goods purchases down to lots of potatoes (compliments of waltonfeed.com), and the #10 cans of corn, carrots, peas, and a few other odds and ends of veggies (shelf reliance and honeyvillegrain) that will be useful in making soups and stews. I have a few cases of fruits so the diet doesn’t get too bland and powdered milk as well. I tend to look back at the things our grandparent’s and their parents ate and have tried to keep it as simple as possible; soups, stews, breads, and homegrown fruits and veggies when possible. As far as buying ready made meals as a major part of my preps it just doesn’t pencil for me as I think it would be far more practical, cost effective, and filling to make whatcha got stew for 20 rather than cook 20 packages of beef stroganoff twice a day. That said, I think it is practical to have a case or two of your favorite RTE meal to liven up the menu when the gloom sets in, although it’s very easy to be creative with soups and stews with very little effort involved.

    Reply
    • Ranger Man February 11, 2011, 8:53 am

      I agree on the idea that it’s better to acquire the ingredients to cook rather than the meals to cook, but then we (I mean my wife) cooks a lot. I know a lot of people nowadays don’t cook at home as much, so it might seem more practical for them to have full meals ready to go.

      Reply
      • ChefBear58 February 12, 2011, 5:00 am

        Having the separate components rather than pre-made meals is also a good option because you can utilize the components in different dishes.

        For example- Beef Stroganoff- USUALLY contains, pasta/noodles, beef, sauce mix (beef base, herbs, spices, maybe sour cream powder and a thickening agent… probably cornstarch or arrowroot) onions, mushrooms and maybe garlic.
        NOW with some of the same components you can switch out/add different ones for other stuff from your shelf and make a new dish.
        For example- Mushrooms, onions, garlic, CHICKEN BASE, F/D CHICKEN, (whatever veg you like) lets say green beans, corn, carrots, peas, dried tomatoes sliced very thin or small diced (some companies actually carry them pre-diced), powdered milk, arrowroot and the same pasta/noodles (if you have it some F/D Parmesan cheese it would make this recipe even better!), maybe some basil out of the garden
        Same idea, just boil water and add it to the mixed up ingredients, but now you have taken your boring “Ho-Hum” beef stroganoff and transformed the basic idea into a pasta alfredo primavera with chicken!
        You could also take the beef from the stoganoff, add it to a can of tomatoes, little beef stock, can ‘o’ beans (drained and rinsed of course), the onions, some dried bell pepper or maybe some chili peppers, spices like cumin, oregano, chili powder and a little beer if you have it… VIOLA You have Chili (which would go great with some fried cornbread mentioned in the bread post there is a link to below)
        Take the chicken mentioned above, boil it in some chicken stock, add in veg of choice and rice- Chicken and rice soup! QUICK and EASY! MOST OF ALL… TASTY!
        Boil the F/D chicken in a quart of chicken stock (roughly 4-6 servings) add in some herbs and spices (poultry seasoning would be a good choice), make a batch of bread dough that is a little extra “sticky” and maybe add a touch more baking powder then
        (here is a versatile bread recipe from a previous article for some ideas
        https://www.shtfblog.com/making-bread-after-teotwawki/ )
        let it rest for a few minutes, toss in whatever F/D vegetable you like, I suggest corn, carrots, peas, green beans, potatoes, Lima bean, ect and get them almost soft, then roll out thin and cut the bread dough into strips/small squares -OR- work the dough into a “fluffy” texture (resembles dense/sticky cotton balls), spoon them into about 1-1.5tsp balls and drop into the boiling liquid.
        Chicken and Dumplin’s- as the “dumplin’s” cook the starches released will thicken the soup to almost a stew consistency.
        Another easy recipe would be to take the F/D BEEF, a few cups of Beef stock/base, tsp poultry seasoning, salt, pepper, oregano/marjoram would do nicely here, splash of Worcestershire sauce, splash of hot sauce, onions, mushrooms, shot of bourbon or brandy if you have/like it, maybe toss in some green peppers. If you have just enough water to rehydrate everything… add in about 1/2 – 1 cup extra water/stock to make a “gravy” of sorts.
        TA-DA! ~20 minutes later you have a dish that will remind you of Salisbury steak -w- gravy over rice!

        Sorry, went of on a tangent there… Kind of a roundabout way of saying…. I agree 100% that you should stock ingredients/components rather than just pre-made meals, your options will be far more impressive than just stoganoff Monday, chicken a-la king Tuesday, MRE Wednesday, ect.
        Having more diverse food options will definitely give you a better variety of nutrients and will also help keep up morale!

        Reply
  • Melinda February 12, 2011, 11:26 pm

    We’re just writing up our first order of freeze dry foods. Probably a variety of items, some stuff we know we like from Mountain House, and some milk and other items.

    I am back to blogging after a break, hope you can stop by: http://preppershomejournal.blogspot.com/

    Reply

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