When properly packaged, freeze dried food can be stored for up to 25 years in proper conditions.
While being flavorful, full of nutrition, and lightweight, freeze-dried foods are also fragile and sensitive to light, heat, and moisture — that’s why proper storage is critical.
You might be storing your freeze-dried foods for the first time, or wondering how to store an opened package of freeze-dried foods. Either way, the following tips apply.
The best part? With a little cold water or hot water, your properly stored freeze-dried food can be brought back to life and enjoyed to the fullest.
Here are some general tips to maximize the longevity of your freeze dried food.
1. Make sure the food is completely dry.
A common mistake is to store freeze-dried food before it’s fully dried. Any residual moisture can cause the food to spoil. The name of the game is to remove all moisture from the food for maximum longevity.
How Does Freeze Drying Work?
The process of freeze drying a fresh or cooked piece of food is quite simple. A freeze drying chamber freezes the food, then immediately dries it, removing all water within the food. The food retains its color, shape, and flavor. Plus, it has a great crunch.
To ensure a food is fully dried, break a large piece of food in half and check for any water or ice particles. You also want to check to see if the inside is still cold. If the inside of the food has any ice particles or is cold to the touch (don't be afraid to use your tongue), put the food back into the freeze dryer for an additional cycle.
Don't have your own freeze drier at home? Don't worry, you're not alone. If you are trying to preserve store-bought freeze-dried food, feel free to proceed with storing, just make sure there is minimal to no moisture.
2. Select the proper storage.
You have several options to store your freeze-dried food.
Each option offers an increasing level of protection. It will depend on how long you want to store your food. The best option is a vacuum-sealed package in mylar bag.
Keep reading to learn more.
Storage Option #1 — Plastic Bag
A simple plastic bag offers minimal protection during long-term storage and should only be used for shorter periods of time. Even freezer bags are subpar when trying to store freeze dried food for an extended period of time.
Store-bought plastic bags are thin, clear, not airtight, and can break easily. They do not provide a significant barrier against air, light, and extreme temperature, all things that can further deteriorate your freeze-dried food.
Plastic bags are better than nothing, but the other options of this list are much stronger and recommended.
What Items Can Be Freeze Dried?
Most foods can be freeze-dried and include vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, dairy, eggs, full meals, desserts, candy. Surprising items include scrambled eggs, sour cream, whipped cream, and ice cream, even pet food. Oil based foods are more difficult to freeze-dry well such as peanut butter, butter, honey, pure chocolate, and jam - as such, should be avoided. Freeze-dried fruits are a great way to get started.
Storage Option #2 — Closeable Glass Container
Simple, airtight containers such as a mason jar work well for foods that require shorter storage times and will be consumed more regularly. This includes foods such as fruits, vegetables, and yogurt. These foods can be easily stored in a pantry for a few months without additional protection.
Mason jars do a good job of protecting the food inside for shorter periods of time, but because it’s impossible to remove all the oxygen, they won’t preserve indefinitely.
Don’t forget to seal the jar tight after you open the container.
Storage Option #3 — Vacuum Storage Bags
The next step up in storage strength is the vacuum storage bag with a packing machine that removes all air (such as a FoodSaver or Impulse Sealer). The vacuum storage bags are thicker and more durable than standard plastic bags and are made to last longer.
They are clear and let in light, however, which is a drawback. If you are planning to store the freeze-dried food for an intermediate period of time (1-10 years), then a vacuum storage bag should work great. Just make sure to create an airtight seal.
Some people have complained about the strength of the seal on some vacuum sealers and the ability to keep out air, so this is something to monitor.
Storage Option #4 — Mylar Bags
Mylar bags are the best solution when it comes to storing freeze dried food for extended periods of time. Mylar is a clear polyester resin that is attached to aluminum foil. It can easily be purchased online.
Think of it as a flexible tin can. Mylar comes in a variety of sizes and thicknesses. Depending on your food sealer, you can remove all oxygen and seal the mylar bag for maximum protection.
Mylar is the best option because it’s thin, lightweight, and flexible. The packaging does not add any unnecessary weight and can be easily collapsed which makes it easy to store and transport. Mylar is also strong and durable. It’s difficult to tear or break.
It’s the reason many of the big names in food storage and food preservation — such as Valley Food Storage, Mountain House, Augason Farms, and Wise Foods — use Mylar for their packaging.
If you do accidentally puncture the bag, you can always use duct tape to seal the hole.
3. Remove All Air and Moisture
Air and moisture are the enemy of proper storage and longevity when it comes to freeze dried preservation. During the sealing process, you’ll want to remove as much oxygen as possible.
Oxygen absorbers are a great tool to scavenge for any residual oxygen in the bag — they can remove that last small amount. They can be purchased in bulk in different sizes based on your application.
Once the package is properly sealed, with all moisture and air removed, the package is ready for storage.
For best results, store your freeze-dried food in a dark location with limited access to light. The best locations are the pantry, kitchen cabinet, or emergency food storage box.
Storage temperature is important. Extreme or excessive heat should be avoided. Storing food in the ambient room temperature is ideal.
How To Tell If Freeze Dried Food Has Degraded?
Color is a good sign of the freshness of freeze-dried food. Color fading indicates that the flavor, freshness and nutritional value has begun to suffer. It’s still perfectly safe to eat, but won’t have the same punch.
Freeze drying has many usages from preserving fresh produce from your garden, creating a homemade emergency food supply, or rationing out camping meals or hiking snacks. Unlike other popular preservation techniques, freeze drying helps food retain its flavor, color, and nutrition without shrinkage or loss in texture.
If you follow the above freeze-drying storage tips, you’ll be well on your way to having a robust supply of delicious, well-preserved foods. Plus, you can preserve the original taste.
Looking for another shelf-stable food with a long shelf life? Check out our artisan-crafted beef jerky. It’s been a big hit as part of emergency essentials.
A Must Have in My Emergency Supplies
I always make sure to have an emergency kit stocked with a mix of canned goods, freeze dried goods, and dehydrated foods. Finding reliable snacks and food with a long shelf can be tough, but thankfully, there’s no better option than People’s Choice beef jerky. It’s full of flavor, packed with nutrition, and will last indefinitely. A must have in my opinion.