Camping Food 101: What Are Freeze Dried Meals? | Backpacker's Pantry

Camping Food 101: What Are Freeze Dried Meals? | Backpacker's Pantry

Camping Food 101: What Are Freeze Dried Meals?

The Easy Way to Battle Hunger While Camping, Hiking, & Backpacking

If you’ve ever been confused by the term “freeze dried food,” you’ve come to the right place. Freeze dried meals are lightweight, filling, and ideal for outdoor adventuring, but what exactly are they?

Today, we’re going to cover everything you need to know about freeze dried food, including why these meals are the perfect addition to your camping and hiking trips.

How is freeze dried food made?

Here’s how the freeze drying process works: The food is quickly frozen, then put into a strong vacuum. The water in the food sublimates, which means it turns from ice into vapor. The result is freeze dried food that can be rehydrated with water.

Is freeze drying food the same as dehydrating it?

It’s a common misconception, but the two processes are very different. Dehydrating has been around for thousands of years, and the process is far less complex than freeze drying. When dehydrating food via a machine, the machine circulates hot, dry air across the food, removing most of the water.

These two types of food have different tastes, textures, and weights. Freeze drying food also helps maintain the taste of the foods you’re eating, and meals are surprisingly tasty and satisfying.

How long does freeze dried food last?

Freeze dried foods are popular in the emergency preparedness world, and for good reason. Since the moisture content has been almost completely removed, these foods can last for up to 25 years when processed and packaged in certain ways.

Most of our meal pouches can last for up to 7 years, and #10 cans are good for up to 25 years. That means you can purchase meals for camping and hiking without worrying about eating them that weekend, or even that season.

When did people start to freeze dry food?

Freeze drying seems like a modern way of processing food, however, it dates back to the 15th century! The Aymara -- people in Bolivia's high Andes -- figured out how to freeze-dry potatoes without pumps or pipes or a freezer. By using the freezing mountain temperatures and the strong sun, they have been able to freeze-dry potatoes for centuries. Learn more about their ancient freeze-drying method here. 

Why freeze dried food is perfect for camping and hiking

Freeze dried food is lightweight and tastes great, but the benefits go well beyond those basics:

  • Nutrition. Freeze dried foods retain around 97% of their nutrients, compared to 50% - 60% nutrient retention with dehydrated foods. That means you’ll be fueling up with the nutrients your body needs to keep hiking, backpacking, and more.

  • Ease of preparation. There’s no easier way to prepare your breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks on the trail than with freeze dried food. Just take a look at the directions on some of our most well-loved meals. It doesn’t get easier than adding hot water, stirring, and waiting for your food to rehydrate.

  • International flavors. Freeze dried food has come a long way in recent years, with meals that range from Chicken Cashew Curry to Beef Stroganoff with Wild Mushrooms, and so much more. You can find something you love for every meal, including dessert. Food intolerances and allergies aren’t a problem, either, since you can buy meals that are gluten free, soy free, dairy free, and more.

So, what are you waiting for? Stock up on some freeze dried foods for your next nature outing, and experience how these meals help you spend less time preparing food, and more time enjoying the outdoors.

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