Freeze Dried Strawberries: How to Make & Use
What Are Freeze Dried Strawberries
Strawberries, among the most delicious and healthful fruits, have a very limited storage life. For this reason, they undergo processing to become durable products using methods such as dehydration, freezing, jam processing, and canning.
These methods lead to significant changes in the product's appearance, taste, and nutritional properties. However, freeze dried strawberries offer significant advantages in all of these aspects.
Freeze dried strawberries are produced through a process known as freeze drying, which involves freezing and sublimation under specific conditions.
In this process, the frozen strawberries are placed in a vacuum chamber, where the pressure is reduced, causing the ice to transform into water vapor and evaporate. This results in freeze dried strawberries with a crispy texture, high nutritional value, and concentrated flavor.
Although it might seem simple, this process requires substantial depressurization of the drying chamber.
Furthermore, the water extracted from the product must condense for the vacuum pump to function efficiently and have a longer lifespan. Condensation occurs at temperatures of -40ºC or lower.
Freeze dried strawberries offer numerous advantages over products preserved using other techniques like dehydration:
- Physical quality: Freeze drying provides physical properties like minimal shrinkage, negligible discoloration, and superior rehydration ability compared to other methods.
- Nutritional quality: Freeze drying involves very low temperatures, resulting in minimal loss of heat-sensitive vitamins, phenolics, and minerals.
- Chemical safety: Other preservation methods involving heat treatments can lead to the formation of compounds harmful to human health (such as HMF, acrylamide, furanoids). Freeze drying, being a low-temperature process, avoids the formation of these compounds.
- Shelf life: Freeze drying removes some of the bound water from the strawberries. Consequently, freeze dried strawberries have a considerably longer shelf life than strawberries preserved using other methods.
- Sensory properties: Freeze drying processes minimally affect the components responsible for the aroma and flavor of strawberries. Thus, it enables the production of products with superior sensory properties.
- Ease of use: Freeze dryers are straightforward systems to operate. Once initiated, the process requires continuous monitoring. Even if the process continues after the product is completely dried, the impact on the product's properties is minimal. However, in dehydration systems, continuous control is necessary. Failure to halt the drying process at the appropriate time results in significant changes in product properties.
Are Freeze Dried Strawberries Beneficial for You
Strawberries are low in sugar, high in fiber, and contain significant amounts of vitamin C. The freeze drying process increases each individual components by approximately 10 times.
According to the USDA database, the average vitamin C content of strawberries is 59.6 mg/100 g, while the vitamin C content of freeze dried strawberries is 630 mg/100 g. Therefore, 100 g of freeze dried strawberries provides about 8 times the daily vitamin C requirement.
Freeze dried strawberries are rich in antioxidants that help protect the body from damage caused by harmful molecules called free radicals.
Moreover, freeze dried strawberries are high in fiber (~20g/100g). This makes freeze dried strawberries a great snack option for those who want to increase their daily dietary fiber intake.
Freeze dried strawberries are reported to have an antioxidant capacity approximately two times higher than that of dehydrated ones. The ORAC value of the freeze dried samples was 412.5 umol/g dm, whereas it was 228 umol/g for the air-dried samples. The study also showed that freeze dried samples had igher content of pridoxyne, total vitamin B and vitamin C.
Therefore, freeze dried strawberries are an excellent choice for those who want to add more fruit to their diet but have difficulty finding fruit out of season.
Their long shelf life also renders them a great snack option for emergency preparedness and outdoor activities.
However, freeze dried strawberries have a high sugar content, accounting for up to 60% of the total weight. Consequently, freeze dried strawberries are not suitable for individuals who restrict their sugar intake.
As for the question, "Are freeze dried strawberries keto?" the answer is no. Freeze dried strawberries are not suitable for the keto diet due to their high content of simple sugars such as glucose and fructose.
Health Benefits of Freeze Dried Strawberries
Freeze dried strawberries have been discovered to offer several health benefits.
Heart Health Improvement
Various studies have indicated that freeze dried strawberries can enhance lipid and lipoprotein profiles, reduce biomarkers of inflammation and lipid oxidation, and lower serum total and LDL cholesterol levels.
Additionally, freeze dried strawberry supplementation may have potential benefits for individuals with type 2 diabetes, reducing their risk of atherosclerosis. Supplementation with freeze dried strawberries reduced levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides in the blood without affecting blood glucose levels or insulin resistance.
Furthermore, consuming freeze dried strawberries has been demonstrated to increase antioxidant levels such as glutathione in the blood, promoting heart health and overall well-being.
The substantial content of vitamins and polyphenolic antioxidants in freeze dried strawberry powder is thought to be the primary factor contributing to these heart health benefits.
Prevention of Insulin Resistance
Another study discovered that incorporating a powder made from freeze dried strawberries and blueberries into the diet of rats helped prevent excessive weight gain and the development of insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. The powder also reduced inflammation within the rats' bodies. Researchers believe that this powder could potentially aid in preventing obesity-related diseases in humans as well.
Potential Cancer Prevention
The consumption of freeze dried strawberries has been linked to a reduction in tumor growth in the esophagus of rats.
Research focusing on the effects of freeze dried strawberries on preventing esophageal cancer in rats found that feeding these berries to rats reduced the number of tumors caused by a carcinogen by 24-56%. Additionally, strawberries decreased the growth rate of premalignant esophageal cells by down-regulating proteins associated with cancer.
Similarly, a study involving human patients with precancerous lesions in their esophagus found that consuming freeze dried strawberries reduced the severity of lesions and lowered levels of certain proteins associated with cancer.
Reduction of Nutritional Toxicity
A study investigating the effects of various berry powders (strawberry, grape, and blueberry) on mice exposed to the toxic chemical acrylamide found that berry powders helped protect the mice's liver, DNA, and reproductive systems from the harmful effects of acrylamide. This protection was attributed to the presence of certain chemicals called phenolics, particularly anthocyanins, present in the berry powders.
Support for Bone Health
A study focused on women who had undergone menopause and had high blood pressure examined the effects of consuming freeze dried strawberries on bone health. The researchers found that freeze dried strawberry powder increased insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a hormone aiding in bone formation. However, no significant effects on other bone biomarkers were observed.
Support for Cognitive Health
A study involving female rats examined the cognitive effects of a dietary supplement made from freeze dried strawberries and spinach. Rats that received the supplement performed better in maze tests compared to those without the supplement. This study suggests that the transition from early to late middle age might be a suitable target for dietary interventions to promote cognitive health in healthy adults.
May change the gut microbiota
Consuming freeze dried strawberries altered the gut microbiota of diabetic mice, increasing the levels of a beneficial bacteria known as Bifidobacterium in the gut of these mice.
How To Make Freeze Dried Strawberries
Freeze drying strawberries is a process that makes the fruit durable without affecting its flavor and nutrients.
Strawberries can be freeze dried whole, sliced or pureed. Similar processes are applied regardless of the form in which they are produced.
For production of a freeze dried strawberries that last for more than 20 years a bunch of supplies are needed.
- Freeze dryer
- Knife (or a strawberry huller)
- Parchment paper
- Mylar bags or mason jars
- Oxygen absorbers
- Cutting board (for slicing)
- Blender (for pureeing)
Step 1: Raw Material Selection
The most crucial step in producing high-quality freeze dried strawberries is to utilize premium raw materials.
For this purpose, both fresh strawberries and directly frozen strawberries can be employed. Using fresh, in-season strawberries will lead to a more cost-effective production. If frozen strawberries are chosen, you can proceed directly to step 3.
It is advisable to opt for fully ripe and organic strawberries for drying, whether using fresh or frozen raw materials. Freeze drying unripe strawberries will result in a bland end product.
Strawberries typically retain their freshness for 5 to 7 days. Given that a freeze drying cycle takes 20-36 hours, ensure a sufficient quantity of product for 2-3 cycles, depending on the capacity of the available freeze dryer.
Step 2: Washing and Preparation
As depicted in the video below, strawberries may contain soil, insects, and other impurities. Consequently, the strawberries should be placed in a bowl and soaked in water (enhancing cleaning effectiveness by adding lemon juice, vinegar, salt, or baking soda) for 10 minutes.
At the end of this period, drain the strawberries using a colander. Rinse them thoroughly with water and proceed to dry them by placing them on a paper towel. Remove the stems from the cleaned strawberries using a knife or a strawberry crusher.
For sliced and dried strawberries, use a sharp knife to either halve them or slice them into uniformly thick pieces. Employing a mandoline slicer or an egg slicer at this stage will expedite the process. If pureed strawberries are desired, blend them in a blender.
Arrange the strawberries on trays lined with parchment paper, which simplifies cleanup. Overlapping the strawberries is acceptable, but pay attention to your freeze dryer's capacity. Nonetheless, spreading them out as much as possible on the tray will enhance drying performance.
An ideal thickness of 0.2" (0.5 cm) is recommended for puree drying. Ensure uniform spread on the tray and make sure the puree lies flat when placed in the freezer.
Step 3: Freezing
The freezing step can be executed in a freeze dryer or using an external freezer. When utilizing an external freezer, put the trays inside of the freezer and wait between 2-8 hours until the products are thoroughly frozen. Sliced products will freeze quickly, while whole products may take longer.
Step 4: Freeze Drying
Initiate your freeze dryer 30 minutes before commencing the process.
First, close the drain valve! Select the properties of your raw material (frozen, unfrozen, liquid, solid, etc.) in the dryer software you are employing. The software will provide guidance, and the dryer will initiate.
When the temperature descends to 32ºF (0ºC), the software will prompt you to place the trays. Insert the trays and select to proceed with the process. Generally, drying will conclude within 20-24 hours. This encompasses freezing, initial drying, and secondary drying.
Inspect the products upon completion of drying. To do so, take the thickest items, cut them in half, and check for coldness or moisture in the center. If present, extend the drying process by a few hours; if not, stop.
Step 5: Packaging and Storage
Once freeze drying is finished, separate the strawberries from the parchment paper. Store them in airtight jars and mylar bags. To counter oxygen-induced reactions, introduce an oxygen absorber and seal the packaging.
Indulge in freeze dried strawberries with a shelf life spanning decades.
How Long Do Freeze Dried Strawberries Last
Freeze dried strawberries have a significantly longer shelf life compared to fresh strawberries and strawberries preserved using other methods.
When appropriately stored in an airtight container, freeze dried strawberries can remain viable for up to 25-30 years.
This extended shelf life is a result of the complete removal of free water and the partial removal of bound water during the freeze drying process. This removal inhibits both microbial and chemical reactions.
However, freeze dried strawberries are more susceptible to environmental conditions due to their unique microstructure. Particularly in humid environments, they rapidly absorb moisture, leading to a soft and sticky texture. This process also accelerates chemical degradation reactions.
To prevent this outcome, it is essential to store them in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight.
In a study no anthocyanin loss was observed in strawberries during 10 months of storage
How Many Calories in Freeze Dried Strawberries and Their Nutritional Facts
Freeze dried strawberries are a low-calorie snack option. One ounce (28 grams) of freeze dried strawberries contains approximately 100 kilocalories. This serving size also contains 6 grams of fiber, 2 gram of protein, and 23 grams of carbohydrates.
Freeze dried strawberries are also a good source of vitamin C, with one serving providing around 200% of the recommended daily intake. They also contain considerable amounts of other vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin A, calcium, and iron.
Because freeze drying removes the water content from the strawberries, the nutrient content is concentrated. This means that freeze dried strawberries can be a healthy addition to your diet. However, if you are on a diet that restricts sugar intake, keep in mind that an ounce of freeze dried strawberries contains 15 g of sugar and consume in moderation
Additionally, it is important to note that some brands of freeze dried strawberries may contain added sugars or preservatives, which can increase the calorie and sugar content. Always check the label before purchasing and consuming freeze dried strawberries.
How To Rehydrate Freeze Dried Strawberries
Freeze dried foods possess a remarkably high rehydration capacity; however, it's crucial to recognize that they won't fully revert to their original texture. After rehydration, they will become softer and more succulent.
The process of rehydrating freeze dried strawberries can be accomplished using either cool or warm water. A study was actually conducted to investigate the impact of water temperatures ranging from 32-176ºF (0-80ºC) on the rehydration of both freeze dried strawberry slices and halves.
Slices required less than 2 minutes for full rehydration, while half strawberries needed less than 5 minutes. The findings revealed that halved and sliced freeze dried strawberries displayed higher rehydration capacities when rehydrated at a temperature close to 32ºC.
For the rehydration process, simply place your desired quantity of freeze dried strawberries in a bowl and cover them with water. Allow them to soak for about 5-10 minutes until they absorb the water and plump up.
Alternatively, another rehydration technique for freeze dried strawberries involves using a liquid of your preference, such as juice or milk, instead of water. This method can introduce additional flavors to the strawberries and enhance their versatility.
Once rehydrated, these freeze dried strawberries can be utilized in various ways, such as adding them to smoothies, baked goods, or as a topping for oatmeal or yogurt. They also serve as a delightful standalone snack or can be incorporated into trail mix for a burst of fruity goodness.
It's important to note that rehydrated freeze dried strawberries should be consumed within a few hours since they won't maintain the extended shelf life of the original freeze dried product. Store any unused portions in an airtight container in the refrigerator to preserve their freshness.
Where To Buy Freeze Dried Strawberries
Freeze dried strawberries can be found in a variety of places both online and in physical stores such as Trader's Joe and Walmart. One of the most popular places to buy them is on Amazon, where you can find a wide range of brands and sizes to choose from.
If you prefer to shop in person, you can also check your local grocery store. Some larger grocery stores carry freeze dried fruit in their health food section or in the snack aisle.
Another option is to buy directly from the manufacturer. Many freeze dried fruit companies have their own websites where you can purchase their products. This may be a good option if you are looking for a specific brand or size that you can't find in stores.
How to Use Freeze Dried Strawberries
Freeze dried strawberries are a versatile ingredient that can be used in a variety of ways. They can be used directly in a variety of foods, desserts and beverages, as well as after grinding.
One of the most popular uses is to add them to cereal or oatmeal for a crunchy and flavorful addition to breakfast.
Another way to use freeze dried strawberries is to incorporate them into baked goods such as muffins, cakes and cookies. They can be added to the batter or used as a topping for a burst of strawberry flavor.
Freeze dried strawberries can also be used to make delicious and healthy snacks. They can be eaten on their own as a crunchy and sweet treat or mixed with nuts and other dried fruits for a homemade trail mix.
They can be coated in milk or dark chocolate for a delicious snack. Additionally, they can be added in granola and muesli bar formulations.
Once freeze dried freeze dried strawberries have been ground into powder, they can be added to smoothies, yogurt or used as a natural food coloring for icing or frosting.
Finally, freeze dried strawberries can be used to add a unique touch to savory dishes such as salads, stir fries or even meat marinades. Their sweet and tangy aroma can complement a variety of ingredients and add color to any dish.
Customer Reviews on freeze dried strawberries
These comments are chosen from different products on Amazon
- Great snack to eat on its own or add as a topping to a dessert or as part of your granola
- I use these strawberries in my cereal and the flavor of these berries is very good. Good product.
- I enjoyed these. Exactly what I was looking for. Freeze dried, unsweetened fruit. Good texture. Great little snack. Will buy them again.
- I love buying little packs like these bc they don’t get stale as fast as bigger containers but there’s not a lot in each bag. I probably get like 5 or less uses for one. I love these when making strawberry oatmeal, smoothies, etc. And for the summer, they’re great when added to sparkling water with lemon and mint! Great refresher.
- I don't like the price of anything right now, but that can't be avoided. They were perfect for strawberry frosting and cake. Added that "real" taste. Will buy again.
- These are delicious!! My picky 6 year old approves too! I always buy these and take them as snacks wherever we go!
- You can use these in a lot of foods. I initially bought them as a treat for my canaries (they won’t touch them) then decided to tip on a salad w/ raspberry vinegarette and my 12 year old daughter loved it. Good alone as a snack or mixed with freeze dried banana, ice cream topping, with yogurt, granola etc
- I definitely ordered these by accident. I meant to order frozen strawberries, and since they were sold out, these popped up instead. Not paying attention, I added to cart, and boom, here we are. At first I was going to throw them away, but who has food to waste. I am so glad I gave them a try because they are amazing. You can eat them on their own or throw them in cereal, ice cream, trail mix, whatever. Awesome snack.
- These are fine, but because they are freeze dried and that strawberry flavor is very concentrated, they are also VERY sweet. I like adding some to my morning yogurt.
- We fell in love with these at Starbucks so I brought these to add to smoothies and such. Well my 10 yr old are the whole bag as a snack and I have been ordering them since.
- Bought these by mistake thinking I was buying frozen strawberries. I was going to return them but my husband tried them and loves them. Guess this will be a regular purchase.
Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
What is freeze dried strawberry?
Freeze dried strawberries are durable strawberry products that have undergone a preservation process called freeze drying. This involves freezing the strawberries and then removing moisture through a vacuum, resulting in a lightweight, crispy, and shelf-stable product.
Are freeze dried strawberries healthy?
Freeze dried strawberries can be a healthy snack choice. They retain most of their nutrients during the freeze drying process, making them a good source of vitamins and fiber. Dozens of scientific studies have shown the benefits of freeze dried strawberries for cancer, heart health, insulin resistance and cognitive health.
Why are freeze dried strawberries so expensive?
The freeze drying process is complex and time-consuming, requiring specialized equipment and expertise. The cost of production, packaging, and handling contributes to the higher price of freeze dried strawberries compared to fresh or frozen ones.
Can you freeze dry strawberries at home?
Yes, it is possible to freeze dry strawberries at home, but it can be challenging without specialized equipment. The process involves freezing the strawberries and using a vacuum chamber to remove moisture, which might require professional-grade machinery.
Can you freeze dry fruit without a machine?
Freeze drying fruit without a machine is difficult due to the need for precise temperature control and a vacuum environment. While some DIY methods exist, they often yield inconsistent results and may not achieve the desired quality and safety.
Is freeze dried strawberries the same as frozen strawberries?
No, freeze dried strawberries are not the same as frozen strawberries. Freeze dried strawberries have had their moisture removed, resulting in a crispy texture and concentrated flavor. Frozen strawberries are simply fresh strawberries that have been frozen and retain their original texture.
How do you freeze dry strawberries without a machine?
Freeze drying strawberries without a machine is challenging, but you can attempt a DIY method using your freezer, dry ice, and a vacuum-sealed container. However, be aware that the results may not be as consistent or effective as using professional equipment.
Is freeze dried fruit high in sugar?
The sugar content in freeze dried strawberries is about 15 g per ounce (28 g). However, some commercial products might have added sugars for taste, so it's essential to check the nutritional information on the packaging.
Is freeze dried better than frozen?
Both freeze dried and frozen fruits have their advantages. Freeze dried fruits retain most nutrients and can be stored longer (up to 30 years), but they may have a different texture. Frozen fruits retain more of their original texture but may lose some nutrients during freezing. The choice depends on your preferences and intended use.
Can dogs have freeze dried strawberries?
Yes, dogs can have freeze dried strawberries in moderation. Freeze dried strawberries can be a healthy and low-calorie treat for dogs. However, make sure to remove any stems and seeds, and introduce them gradually to your dog's diet to monitor for any potential allergic reactions.
For more information read [Can dogs have freeze dried strawberries](/can-dogs-have-freeze dried-trawberries)
Do freeze dried strawberries have vitamin C?
Yes, freeze dried strawberries generally retain a significant amount of their original vitamin C content. One ounce of freeze dried strawberries contains about 2-fold of vitamin C of daily recommended intake.
Are freeze dried strawberries keto?
Freeze Dried Strawberries is not keto-friendly because it is high in sugars. It may kick you out of ketosis even with a small serving size.
Can cats have freeze dried strawberries?
While small amounts of freeze dried strawberries are unlikely to be toxic to cats, it's important to note that cats are obligate carnivores, and their primary diet should consist of meat-based foods. Cats have different dietary needs than humans and even dogs, and their digestive systems are not well-equipped to process fruits and vegetables.
Therefore, it's generally recommended to avoid giving strawberries or other fruits to cats and to focus on providing them with a balanced and appropriate cat food. If you have concerns about your cat's diet, it's best to consult with a veterinarian.