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Thread: Dehydrated .vs. Freeze dried food

  1. #1
    Vulture of The Western World Eric's Avatar
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    Dehydrated .vs. Freeze dried food

    From http://survivalacres.com

    A lot of people are unsure about the differences between dehydrated foods and freeze dried foods. Both foods are optimum for long term storage, offering essentially the same shelf life for the same type of products. The real difference is found in these areas:

    Taste

    Dehydrated foods are without any seasoning or additional ingredients (usually). There are some exception to this, found in the "mixes" and the soups and stews. These products do contain multiple ingredients and can be used to make a complete meal without adding anything.

    But many of the other products in the Rainy Day line are single ingredients. For example, rice. It's just rice, the same rice that you can buy in the supermarket. Our products are all packaged for long term storage in cans, buckets or even pouches, which makes a decided difference in terms of freshness, nutrition and shelf life. We also have a number of products packaged in bags. Bagged products should be put in airtight containers for long term storage, or simply used.

    Dehydrated foods require cooking and seasoning. Cooking times vary, but most are added to hot boiling water. You can also do "thermos cooking" by adding boiling water to a thermos, adding ingredients and letting it sit for a couple of hours. Just forget about it, it will cook itself. This will cook the food slowly using the minimum amount of energy.

    Stovetop cooking is easy too. Add the ingredients to boiling water and let it cook until tender. This varies from a few minutes to a hour or so, depending on the product. Whole grains and legumes, such as rice, beans and wheat take the longest, while potatoes, par-boiled rice and other products like pancake mixes are the easiest and shortest cooking time. By adding water, you're rehydrating the food back into it's original natural state before dehydration, but it's still "raw". It still needs to be cooked until tender.

    Pancake mixes, bread mixes, cookie mixes, muffins, etc., are all very good and require just a little water (cold) to be ready for baking or frying. Scone mixes are an example of fried bread (Indian bread) and are very easy to prepare.

    Most dehydrated food will benefit from adding seasoning. Rice doesn't taste like much until you add something to it. You can use anything, dehydrated vegetables, TVP (textured vegetable protein, a meat substitute, real meat, potatoes, whatever you want) and seasoning, such as salt, pepper, tobasco sauce, garlic, or even ketchup. Pasta is the same, they don't taste like much until they've had something added to them. Spaghetti is everyone's favorite, but it's the toppings that make it so. You can add any ingredients or topping to dehydrated foods. Seasoning is recommended simply for taste.

    Freeze dried foods, on the other hand, are usually foods containing a multitude of ingredients and seasonings. Nothing more is needed, just a little cook time in hot water to rehydrated them and have them ready to eat. They are pre-seasoned, pre-cooked and pre-mixed with other ingredients, making them the fastest, easiest and tastiest foods available.

    Cooking

    Cooking is very simple. Measure out the amount of ingredients you wish to make (depending on the number of servings you want) and dump into hot water. Personally, I don't actually measure anything. I just scoop out a cup or two, depending on how many are eating and dump into boiling water. If I've too much water, I can add more food, or simply drain a little water off. If I've too little water, just add a bit. Or you can follow the instructions, found on the side of every package we sell.

    Cooking times are pretty short. Usually, 10 - 15 minutes will do it for most foods. This applies to all the freeze dried foods from all of our product lines, and many of the soups, stews and mixes from the Rainy Day food lines. Items such as biscuits, cookies, pancakes and bread mixes take a little cold water to make dough and are baked. Indian bread (Scones) are fried on a hot frying pan for flat bread.

    Other items, such as rice, beans, wheat (whole grains) take longer cooking times and can be simmered for 30 minutes to an hour or more. For these products, a pressure cooker is great, drastically shortening the cooking time required. A pressure cooker is a huge time saver and energy saver, if you don't have one, we definitely recommend one. Just add all of the ingredients into the pot and cover with water. Put on a low heat and let it cook for anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. Even beans cook considerably faster with a pressure cooker then on the stove. Make sure you don't let the cooker run low on water, so check it occasionally until you get a feel for how they work.

    Dehydrated and freeze dried foods are actually rather easy to prepare and cook. They are identical to the foods you are buying now in the supermarket. All that rice, beans, pasta and mixes you are accustomed to buying and preparing? That's what we sell, same food, lower price and much larger quantities then those little packages you're throwing away now. Our food is high quality, tasty and nutritious, packaged for long term shelf life.

    Seasoning

    Keep on hand your favorite seasonings. We sell a few seasonings, but there are many more. Dehydrated food should be seasoned for best taste. The freeze dried entrees won't need any at all, unless you're one of those that drowns everything in ketchup. You can even make ketchup from our tomato powder....

    Ingredients

    Freeze dried food is usually an "entree", containing multiple items for a complete meal. Most dishes have several items included within them and you don't need to do any other cooking or adding ingredients to make a complete meal. Because it's freeze dried, you simply add hot water, or add the product to hot water and cook for about 10 minutes. These rehydrates the food completely and it's ready to eat!

    Dehydrated foods are usually single ingredients. You can mix any dehydrated food with any other food product for a combination of tastes, textures and varieties.

    Best Value

    Pound for pound, and dollar for dollar, dehydrated food costs less then freeze dried food. We get this question a lot. Nothing comes close to the value of dehdyrated food, not even store bought canned food. A single can of dehdyrated green beans, for example, represents 27 cans of canned green beans, which take up a whole lot of space and is mostly water.

    Freeze dried food are the easiest and tastiest foods we carry, bar none. If you don't like to cook and want great foods with great taste (and free shipping!), freeze dried foods is the hands down winner.

    Every package is labeled with serving size, instructions and preparation information. The large #10 cans (large coffee can size) will make quite a few servings, depending on the product and product line. For example, a #10 can of freeze dried entree will make 10 - 11 servings on average. A #10 can of dehydrated green beans however, contains 48 servings. The actual number of servings is found on each product detail page on our website.

    Dehydrated and freeze dried foods are highly concentrated, compared to what you will find in the supermarket. There's no fancy packaging, excess air and small serving sizes. Even our 2 person foil pouches contain a whopping amount of food when rehydrated. I just did a 30 day diet eating nothing but dehdyrated and freeze dried food in December, 2006 and couldn't finish most single servings sizes.

    Opened Containers

    A lot of people want to know how fast they must consume the food in an opened container. This question applies to any of the foods we sell, whether cans, buckets or even the mylar bags or foil pouches.

    We've found that if the container is left sealed (put the lid on or close up the mylar or foil bag), we can eat the food five years or more past the date it was opened. We've been eating these foods for almost twelve years and have had many opened containers that we didn't get back to for a long time. Keep them sealed backup by placing the lids back on and keep the humidity, moisture and bugs out. When you need some food, scoop out what you need and close the lid. It's that simple.

    Mountain House say's "two weeks" to consume an opened container. We don't know why, it's not been any sort of a problem for us to eat foods left open for several years. Rainy Day doesn't specify, and neither does Alpine Aire or Richmoor, so we don't know their stated position. For us though, it's been years with no noticable decline in taste or quality. This applies to both dehydrated and freeze dried foods.

    Shelf Life

    Mountain House advertises a 30 year shelf life. When pressed, they admit it's 25 years "plus", with at least 5 years past their expected expiration date. But they also said it was "indefinite" at the same time. Alpine Aire says 7 - 10 years on their foil pouches and 15 years on the freeze dried foods. Our experience has been you can expect 25 - 30 years on either of these companies. Store your food storage in a cold (or cool) dark place out of direct sunlight, preferably at a constant temperature. Keep it away from flooding basements or put it on pallets if you need to. Read the link above for more information on temperature, time, humity and oxygen for more information.

    Space Requirements

    Storable foods, whether freeze dried or dehdyrated foods, are very compact, way more compact then canned foods. There is no excess water or fancy packaging, no empty air spaces and giant sized boxes with tiny servings inside. A entire years supply can be fit into a 2 ft x 3 ft area, stacked 5 ft high. Or under the bed. Or in a closet. Or in the pantry. Or in the basement, or under the house. These foods are concentrated, because the water has been removed before packaging. A single can contains many servings, instead of a single serving found in the supermarket.

    Food Security

    This is a subject dear to heart. We have followed closely the issues with the global food supply for many years. Most people are utterly unaware how fragile the US food supply really is. The mega-mergers of family owned farms and corporate giants, the declining energy supply, the fragile state of our infrastructure and the vulnerability to things like hurricanes, pandemic, and oil prices are often misunderstood. America is the land of plenty, right?

    Wrong. Not always. And certainly, not forever. During times of crisis, the supermarkets are stripped bare in a matter of hours. American used to stock food as part of their everyday preparations, but have since forgotten this time honored practice. Now, everyone rushes to the store to "stock up" when the news or events frighten them into doing so. Or worse, they wait until after a disaster and find out there's nothing left. This has happened countless times in America's history of regional disasters. Everything gets sold out and some merchants even take advantage of the crisis by jacking up prices sky high.

  2. #2
    Senior Member DonTom's Avatar
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    Mountain House advertises a 30 year shelf life. When pressed, they admit it's 25 years "plus", with at least 5 years past their expected expiration date.

    I have a Mountain House "Chicken Teriyaki with Rice" meal in my hand right now. This one was purchased about a year or so ago and has stamped on it "Best used by July 2013". Far from that 25 years. However, I have eaten ten year freeze dried meals several times and they were as good as new from all I could tell.

    This package does not have a word about being opened, but I have had other brands that say it's okay to cut a small hole in the pouch when at high elevations as long as the meal is eaten during that trip. The hole is to let the air out, because the pouch seems to get inflated at higher elevations where the outside pressure is lower. They look like they are filled up with air when at 8,000 feet in elevation. The small hole lets the higher air pressure out of the pouch so it takes up a lot less room in a backpack.

    -Don- SSF, CA

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