Advantages of Freeze Dryers: Preserving Nature's Goodness
Our dietary priorities have changed in recent decades, and we are currently seeking healthier and more nutritious food options. Now, the demand for real, high-quality food sources with clean and understandable labels is higher than ever before.
Freeze-dried foods have gained popularity due to their high suitability for these demands. Freeze-drying allows food to be dried without losing its nutritional content, color, shape, or flavor.
This article explains the advantages of freeze dryers and their contribution to meeting the needs of health-conscious consumers.
1. Whole Food Production
Food production can significantly affect the chemical composition of foods. For example, during fruit juice production, a significant amount of dietary fiber, antioxidant compounds, and vitamins in the final product decreases.
However, we now clearly understand the effect of whole foods on our health. Since freeze-drying requires no refinement pretreatment and has almost no effect on the chemical composition, freeze-dried foods are considered whole foods.
Additionally, freeze-drying does not require additives for many foods. Therefore, freeze-dried foods offer a solution as they are minimally processed and free from additives.
2. Similar to Fresh Food
Traditional drying techniques, such as spray drying and dehydration, rely on heat to remove moisture from food products. While effective in prolonging shelf life, these methods can trigger various reactions (such as the Maillard reaction, caramelization, oxidation and shrinkage) that alter the composition and characteristics of the dried foods.
However, freeze drying stands apart from these methods due to its low-temperature and vacuum-based approach, which minimizes deteriorative reactions and preserves the nutritional value of food to a greater extent. The low-temperature and vacuum environment of freeze drying has several benefits that contribute to the preservation of the nutritional value of food:
- Low temperature prevents Maillard reaction and caramelization reactions in freeze drying. This ensures that the freeze-dried food's color, appearance and taste are similar to the fresh product.
- Oxidations reactions decrease the amount of beneficial compounds like vitamins and antioxidants. The absence of oxygen and low temperature in the freeze drying chamber minimizes oxidation reactions.
Therefore, the appearance, taste, and nutritional content remain remarkably similar to raw material, making freeze-dried foods a convenient and nutritious option for those seeking the benefits of natural ingredients.
3. Prolonged Shelf Life
The moisture content of dry foods significantly affects their shelf life. Freeze drying can remove water at a much higher rate than other drying techniques.
Thus, the microbiological and chemical safety of the end products is considerably higher than other drying methods.
Freeze-dried products generally have an average moisture content of around 1-5%. This moisture level ensures their long life when stored properly.
Although the shelf life of freeze-dried products depends on factors such as packaging, storage temperature and the product itself, the shelf life of freeze-dried foods can be up to 30 years under optimum conditions.
Freeze drying can be used for drying foods in different forms, such as whole, sliced or chopped foods, purees and liquid foods. It is therefore a suitable method for the production of products that can be used for different purposes.
Therefore, it is possible to produce products that can be used for different purposes using the same dryer and raw materials. This is especially advantageous for domestic users and small businesses.
Freeze-dried foods can be used for a wide variety of purposes. They can be consumed directly as snacks or utilised in various formulations.
For example, breakfast cereals and porridges can be enriched with whole fruits.
They can also be used as a source of vitamins, minerals, fibre and antioxidants in healthy bars and granola formulations. Freeze-dried whole fruit pieces can also be added to drinks and smoothies to enhance their flavour and nutritional value.
6. Storage at room temperature
One of the most important advantages of freeze-dried foods is that they can be stored at room temperature. The freeze-drying process removes almost all water content from the food, minimizing microbial and chemical reactions.
As a result, freeze-dried products can be stored for up to 30 years without refrigeration or freezing.
The removal of water content during freeze-drying significantly reduces the weight of the products, making freeze-dried foods much lighter than their fresh or dried counterparts.
The lower weight of freeze-dried foods significantly reduces transport costs. It also offers an important alternative for situations such as emergency preparedness.
Freeze-dried foods have a unique sponge-like microstructure, which allows them to interact with water much more quickly. Furthermore, minimal shrinkage contributes to the ability to rehydrate.
Thus, freeze-dried foods have a much higher rehydration capacity than other drying methods. This means that when kept in water, it can return to its fresh state.
As a result, freeze dryers have advantages that meet changing consumer preferences for healthy, natural and sustainable foods. They also provide consumers with versatile and customisable foods that can be used for various purposes.
Furthermore, the long shelf life and ease of use of freeze-dried products make them ideal for various situations, such as emergency preparedness, outdoor activities and space travel.