We’re living in an era in which more and more people care about clean living and strive to maximize their intake of real, whole-food, plant-based ingredients. To that end, freeze-dried fruits and vegetables serve as an excellent alternative to eating fresh produce. Don’t get me wrong, nothing truly beats eating a whole, crisp apple, or a bowl of organic strawberries, or a freshly cut mixed greens salad. That said, freeze-dried produce could play an important role in a healthy (and delicious) diet.
So, what exactly does it mean when something is freeze-dried? Simply put, freeze-drying is a process that begins with freezing a product, say blueberries, and then removing the ice and moisture through a vacuum system and process called sublimation. In the end, you’re left with a bunch of beautiful blueberries, fully intact, but without any water in them. So now they’re crunchy. You can then eat them whole as a snack or pulverize them into powder that can be used as clean ingredients in a variety of products.
The good news is that freeze-drying actually offers quite a number of significant benefits and advantages, which are worth enumerating:
- High nutrient content: A primary advantage of freeze-drying is that the process locks in high levels of nutrients. Freeze drying occurs immediately after fruits and vegetables are picked at the peak of their ripeness and nutrient content. In other words, the produce used for freeze-drying is ripening on the plant, just as it’s supposed to, and then picked at an optimal time. The process of freeze-drying then removes the water from the produce but leaves the nutrients intact. Fresh produce, by comparison, is typically picked from the plant well before its peak ripeness, leaving some of the ripening process to occur during transport to the supermarkets. As you might imagine, this can be less than ideal, depending on conditions.
- Closely resembles the real thing (because it IS the real thing): One of the benefits of freeze-drying is that the process retains the original color and shape of the fruit or vegetable (unless you ultimately turn it into a powder) -- so you know you’re eating a genuine, natural food. Moreover, the process even retains the core aromas and flavors of the original, fresh produce.
- A long shelf life: Freeze-dried products are imbued with a very long shelf-life and they don’t require refrigeration. Plus, such stability at room temperatures allows for added versatility in the development and production of a wide variety of products that incorporate freeze-dried ingredients.
- Light weight: Freeze-dried products carry a weight that tends to be reduced by up to 90 percent -- which goes to show how much water fresh fruits and vegetables actually carry. The low weight makes these products easy to handle, and with much lower shipping costs.
- Reduction in microbial concerns: When processed and packaged correctly, the incidence of microbiological concerns is significantly reduced during storage due to the lack of water. This is a significant benefit when compared to the potential bacterial growth on fresh fruits and vegetables that typically get stored in a moist environment.
So whether you’re crunching on freeze-dried fruit snacks or consuming freeze-dried ingredients in another form, you’re in for a treat. A treat for your senses and certainly a treat for your health and well-being. This is why we use freeze-dried ingredients at RDCL Superfoods. We all need more plant-based foods in our diet and freeze-dried products are a great way to make that happen.
By Donny Makower, a Seriously Radical Founder