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