For fruits, most can be eaten just as they are. Other ways of using them:
- Make into a powder and use to flavor icings or baked goods. The powders can also be used in smoothies but it’s pretty much the same end result if you put a piece of freeze dried fruit into a blender.
- Cereal – Add strawberries, blueberries, etc. to cereal.
- Muffins – I reydrate the fruit with a little water until it’s similar to the consistency fresh fruit would be, then add it to the other ingredients to make muffins. The same thing can be done for pancakes
- Many fruits are great as a crunchy topping to salads.
I mentioned in the previous post how we use okra and eggs.
I also mentioned that oily foods will go rancid but if Vince and I were going to a cabin somewhere for a week and I didn’t want to have to bring every ingredient needed to cook meals, I would cook some ahead and freeze dry them. That way, we wouldn’t have to worry about keeping them frozen while traveling and if we didn’t eat them all while there, we could bring them home and heat and eat them fairly soon. When I first started freeze drying, I would make meals, freeze dry them, then start eating them at one month, two months, three months, etc. after having packaged them. We found that three months was as long as we wanted to go on the home freeze dried meals
Meals I’ve had success with so long as we eat them fairly soon:
- Scalloped Potatoes
- Mac & Cheese
- Meat Loaf
- Crack Chicken
I know there are others but I’m not remembering them right now.
When I do have leftovers of these type meals, I can freeze them in squares in the freezera and save them til I have enough to run a whole load. While I wouldn’t freeze dry strawberries and Crack Chicken in the same load, I would freeze dry any of the above meals together.
To rehydrate, I add a bit of room temp water, let it sit til most of the water is absorbed. Add more water if needed and once it’s fully rehydrated, heat it up.
When you figure the cost of eating out these days, being able to take your meals when traveling saves a lot of money and hassle. Even if we’re in a hotel for a night, we’d often bring a couple of potatoes and a meat dish. Stick the potatoes in the hotel microwave and bake them, then take them out and heat up the meat dish, add the potatoes back for a few minutes if they needed to be reheated. Sometimes I’d bring a salad or buy a bag of salad, bring a little dressing and we had a decent meal in our room.
The effectiveness of a freeze dryer all depends on how you would use it. Some folks on trips can’t wait to eat out. Eating out isn’t something I enjoy so I’ll go to a lot of trouble to keep from eating out. There were a few weeks here that we ate out way too much and I’m happy to be eating at home again. But, if you’re one who looks forward to eating out, then taking meals to heat and eat in a hotel probably sounds like torture. For me, going out to eat is torture . . well, not really torture but I’d much rather eat my own cooking.
Also, it depends on how much work you want to put into it. Take the strawberries I just did for instance. We heard about a good deal on strawberries so we bought two flats. I spent probably 4 – 5 hours washing, removing stems and slicing strawberries. Four trays went into the freeze dryer, the rest went on extra trays and into the freezer til the first load was done. Once a load was done, I put them in jars and vacuum sealed them. It’s work and the prep work can be time consuming and tiring. If that’s something you’re willing to do, a freeze dryer is great.
It’s a big investment but it’s fun and rewarding. I’m glad we got ours. I thought about selling it when we left Texas because I new we’d never have a huge garden again. I’m glad we kept it but if it totally went out tomorrow and couldn’t be fixed, I wouldn’t buy another one, simply because I don’t see us having access to the produce we had when we were growing so much of our own.
Any questions I might could answer, just post them in the comments.