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Updated by Rose Garalde on Mar 07, 2021
Headline for Best Freeze Dried Food For A Camping Trip
Rose Garalde Rose Garalde
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Best Freeze Dried Food For A Camping Trip

One of the most potent passions people have is the urge to go outdoors and somehow connect with the spirit of our forefathers that used to live among nature. For those it works, it works really well. Certainly, it has a therapeutic effect and can get out the feeling of being canned between four walls. All great things aside, there is one big problem with going out camping or hiking: the scarcity of food!


What Are Freeze-Dried Food Items?

It may seem like a “modern, scientific” concept but there are many communities in the past that had done this. For instance, the native South American tribes have been freeze-drying their eatables for generations. They were not scientifically literate as we are now, but the old wisdom permitted them to preserve potatoes for a long time. This way, they prevented famine and mass-starvation.

The art of preserving food for long intervals of time was perfected around the mid of the twentieth century. During the WW2, medical professionals started to freeze blood plasma and antibiotics to make them usable for wounded soldiers. After the war was over, the techniques were used at the commercial level and food was the industry that benefited the most from it. Before, it was only supplied to astronauts and soldiers at the fronts as rations.

It is the perfection of process and ease of attaining results that now you can find freeze-dried food anywhere with no trouble at all!

From an exciting journey of outer space to hot war zones, the freeze-dried food has found its way to the households and offer many options. Families love it for its perpetual shelf life and better taste than other ready-to-eat meal packages.

It was only natural that this food penetrated into the ranks of hikers and backpackers who were always looking for something that did not taste like raw meat!


How Does Freeze-Drying Work

The process of freeze-drying took a little time to be perfected at the start. Now, it is pretty standard. Here are the steps involved in freeze-drying any food item:

• The meal is placed in a freezer that operates at extremely low temperatures. This allows the food to freeze instantly. Exposure to freezing temperatures will result in large ice crystals.

• Then, the freeze-drying machine will turn the ice crystals into vapors by employing a method called sublimation. In this way, it will skip the liquid part and convert the solid crystals directly into vapors.

• After sublimation, the food will be dried to get rid of any excess moisture.

• Now comes the packing part. The food is packed in containers and bags like mylar bags, cans, buckets. These are specially-designed with oxygen absorbing capabilities to keep the food from rotting.


Freeze-Drying Is Not Dehydrating

Typically, dehydrating is used to preserve the food. It is different from freeze-drying because there is no residual moisture in the food after it went through the freeze-drying process. In addition to that, it does not lose any nutritional value or structural change, contrary to dehydration. This is the reason why freeze-dried food does not appear to be wrinkly in appearance and rubbery in its consistency.

There are other benefits of freeze-drying over a simple dehydrating process. It is time-efficient because it takes lesser time to rehydrate. Also, the food will be much lighter when compared to its dehydrated counterpart.


Reasons For Storing Freeze-Dried Food

Even after counting a plethora of great things about freeze-dried food, if you are not convinced, here are some of the reasons you need to be stocked up in this food category. It is perfect for those who make instant plans on going outdoors:

Long Shelf-Life
There is only one competitor of freeze-dried food when it comes to the longevity of shelf-life, that is raw honey because it can last millennia without spoiling its natural taste and consistency. But you cannot survive on raw home alone when you are exploring outdoors.

Generally, if you are being cautious, you can store freeze-dried food for 25 to 30 years without making it spoil its taste and texture. The reason behind this phenomenon is the absence of moisture from the food. In the absence of any water content, there is no room for microorganisms to grow and spoil your food. The best thing about freeze-drying is that it can stop the ripening of fruits and vegetables. This means you can have greens on your way to the summit without worrying about being homesick!

In the process of freeze-frying, the food item loses around 90% of its weight because of the elimination of water content from it. This results in them being lightweight and portable for easy packing and mobility during hiking and other outdoor activities. For those who love to travel light, they can have a hot meal without packing much. The food will come to life and fresh as always once you crack the package open and warm it.

Easy To Use
It is not even remotely difficult to prepare a freeze-dried item for a meal. In the case of food pouches, all it takes is some cups of boiling water, stirring, sealing the pack again for a couple of minutes, and voila – dinner is served!

After that, you can eat the meal directly from the pouch. So, it is truly a hassle way to pack your lunch for a time out in nature.

No Loss Of Nutritional Value, Taste, & Texture
When compared to dehydration, freeze-drying is always better. One reason is that dehydration takes away almost fifty percent of the nutritional value of the food. It can toughen up at the end and become wrinkly. This makes it less appetizing and hard to ingest. The freeze-dried foods do not suffer these problems. When stored, they look crunchy and dry because they are dry, but after getting their moisture back, they come to normal with no loss of taste, texture, and shape!

Superior Taste
There is no doubt that even the worst taste meal feels like an exotic cuisine at the end of a day after hiking a tricky trail. But why suffer when you can have the best food with you that comes with no trouble at all!


Storing Freeze-Dried Food

When it comes to freeze-dried food, there is no trouble in keeping it safe. The reason is their stable shelf-life which allows them to remain unspoiled even at room temperature. Most of the time, they come in packages and containers that can withstand abuse with no trouble at all, like mylar bags, food-grade cans, and buckets, etc.

But, if you need to be completely sure, follow these guidelines for storing the freeze-dried food for amazing shelf-life and peace of mind:

• Always place the containers or pouches of freeze-dried food in a cool, dry, and clean place.

• It is best to keep them in places where temperature changes only a little. Extreme fluctuations and conditions can affect its quality.

• Keep the food from coming in direct contact with sun and moisture. The best preserving temperature is 35 to 75 degrees F which can be achieved in cupboard cabinets and pepper pantries.

• Until the time comes to eat, it is best to keep the pouches and bags from puncturing.


Factors To Consider While Choosing A Freeze-Dried Food Brand

There are hundreds and thousands of food items that you can find in the stores, made by different manufacturers. It would be extremely difficult to choose from them without keeping in mind some essential things in mind.

Here is a checklist that you need to go through before setting your heart on a specific brand or meal:

The first thing is always to answer the questions that start with “why”. So, you need to ask why you need freeze-dried food. There are two possible scenarios:

• Do you have some long-term emergency in mind?

• Are you rationing up for the hike next month?

Since, we started this article on the premise of evaluating food items that could be a great fit for outdoors, like when you are out hiking, backpacking, we will keep our review to the brands and items that are specifically made items for outdoors. It includes the following manufacturers:

• Mountain House

• Alpine Aire

• Wise Foods

We will go through several items from each one of the brands in the later sections.

Calories & Nutritional Content
You need to look into the energy-to-content ratios of the products to make the best decision. If you get more calories per ounce, the deal is sweet. Also, consider the level of energy you would need at the end of the day. If you are looking forward to some gruesome work, you will need more energy at the end of the day. If you have to, get a double serving pouch for you and augment the supply with additional items like olives, nuts, chia seeds, etc., so that you get the needed energy levels for the next day.

As a general practice, freeze-dried food manufacturers add high sodium content to provide instant energy to the user. It is great for fatigued muscles at the end of the day, but you cannot take them for granted if your health conditions allow you to have the least possible dosage. If you have such a condition, it is better to consult with the staff or reading the label before buying any food item.

Again, there are almost identical steps in preparing freeze-dried food from any manufacturer when it is chow time. As a rule of thumb, it takes around 1 to cups of boiling water to reconstitute the food. The waiting time after adding water could be around 8 to 15 minutes, depending on the brand and the food you are preparing.

In this article, we have taken those items into consideration that do not take excessive resources and time in preparation. It is best to keep things simple while you are hiking through the tricky terrain.

Taste, Flavor, & Texture
There is always personal preference when it comes to good food and bad food. So, you need to make keep in mind your personal flavors and preferences before buying freeze-dried food. It would not be in your favor to be stuck with a food item that you do not like.

There are variants to your personal favorite recipe so keep that in mind while shopping. As an added bonus, you can always keep pouches of spices or a bottle of hot sauce to make things taste a little better in the middle of the wilderness.

Shelf Life
Like all other things in this food category, there is a wide range of categories when it comes to the shelf life of food items. Generally, they are stable for a long span of time. but there are differences when you jump from one brand to another. For instance, there are manufacturers like Mountain House that provides around 30 years of impressive guarantee for their products, while others mostly gun for 5 to 7 years. So, keep in mind before storing the pouches.

For many people, the choice is boiled down to price for everything, and freeze-dried food is not an exception. All praises aside, it does not come cheap. A typical 2 or 2.5 serving pack can cost you around $8 to $15.


Best Freeze-Dried Food For Outdoors

At this point, you know a lot about how freeze-dried food is prepared and preserved. Now is the time to pick the winners from the crowd.

After intensive research, testing, and evaluation, we have shortlisted some of the best freeze-dried food brands. They were tested for all the things that anyone would want at the end of a hectic day outdoors. They offer great taste and texture; there is a chance of food poisoning or other gut-related issues that are common while eating in these times. Even for some, they could offer the best value for money.

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