What is freeze drying and why is it a great way to preserve food?
You may have heard the term “lyophilization” in some conversation, and it may have sounded very technical to you, however today we want to explain everything about What is a freeze-dried product and its innovative process.
The freeze-drying, which in English is known as “freeze-drying”, is a process of cold dehydration that helps dry any type of food, from fruits, vegetables and even coffee. The process consists of bringing food to low temperatures and then extracting the water using a vacuum.
The most valuable thing about this dehydration process is that it manages to preserve the shape, color, flavor and most importantly: the nutrients of food.
The origin of freeze drying
You may think that this process is something new, however it is an ancient drying method that comes from the Incas in Peru, who were the first to develop this method naturally.
The Incas, being more than 400 thousand meters above sea level, took their food to the highest parts of Machu Picchu to store their food. -Very clever, don't you think?- and due to the low temperatures at night and the low pressures, they were able to generate naturally freeze-dried foods in this way.
The evolution of freeze drying in history
It is said that other civilizations also used similar methods , such as the Vikings who did so especially to preserve herring, which is a type of fish.
But starting in the middle of the 19th century , science, in its need to preserve animal and plant tissues, also began to implement this cold dehydration process.
In 1943, the British doctor and scientist Alexander Fleming, who also He discovered penicillin , gave it the name “lyophilization,” and it was all because, during World War II , lyophilization was of vital importance to conserve blood plasma and precisely transport penicillin.
How does the freeze drying process work today?
The freeze-drying process today is replicated with the use of machines, going through 3 main stages: freezing, sublimation and desorption.
- In the First stage , foods are frozen at very low temperatures, between -30°C and -50°C. This allows the water contained in the food to solidify in the form of ice crystals.
- In the Second stage , a vacuum is applied to the frozen food, which causes the ice to go directly from the solid to the gaseous state, without passing through the liquid. This process is called sublimation and it removes 95% of the water from the food.
- In the Third stage , the temperature of the food is increased to eliminate the rest of the water through a process called desorption.
- The result is a dry, light and crunchy food, which can be stored for a long time without the need for refrigeration.
As you will realize, it is a very different process than dehydrating with heat.
Advantages of freeze drying in foods
Freeze drying has several advantages over other food preservation methods, such as heat dehydrating or freezing. Some of these advantages are:
Better preserves nutrients, vitamins, antioxidants and flavors of food.
This is because freeze-drying prevents exposure to heat, oxygen and light , which are factors that can degrade the quality of food. In addition, by eliminating water, the risk of growth of microorganisms that can cause diseases or disorders is reduced .
Reduces the weight and volume of food.
This facilitates its transportation, storage and consumption. The freeze-drying process reduces the weight of food by up to 90% , which is important to reduce energy expenditure. In addition, they are easier to prepare, since you only need to add water to rehydrate them and recover their original texture.
Increases the shelf life of food.
The Freeze-dried foods can last up to 25 years if they are kept in optimal conditions of temperature and humidity. This makes them ideal for emergencies, travel, or long-term storage.
How can we consume freeze-dried foods?
The Freeze-dried foods are a healthy , practical and delicious option to incorporate into your diet without losing nutrients, and today we can find a wide variety of freeze-dried products on the market, such as freeze dried fruit , freeze-dried vegetables or freeze-dried coffee. Here we share some ideas to start being part of your diet:
The great advantage that freeze-dried foods have to be consumed as snacks , is that they are practical, so you can take them wherever you want, be it the office, to a excursion either if you go on a trip. The most important thing is that it will continue to provide you with the nutrients that the food itself has.
Ingredient in cooking
You can use freeze-dried fruit or vegetables to add flavor and color to your salads . smoothies , yogurts or desserts . You can also use freeze-dried coffee to make a cup of instant coffee by simply adding hot water.
This is especially applicable to freeze-dried vegetables , which after hydrating them can be used to cook soups, stews, stir-fries or any other recipe you can think of.
There are also ready-made freeze-dried foods , such as rice, pasta or meat, that only need water to become a complete meal.
Freeze drying and its impact on the environment
Freeze -drying beyond being a food trend or an innovative food consumption process, is a useful food preservation method that can help combat the environmental damage caused by CO2 emissions for food waste.
According to the National Director of the Network of Food Banks in Mexico (Red BAMX) in an interview with IPADE , in Mexico, in addition to food waste causing million-dollar losses in money, it also generates around 36 million tons of CO2. Simply put, throwing away food pollutes.
In addition to this, we must also consider that with the freeze-drying process it is no longer necessary to produce more products with the need to use more land, but rather 100% of the crops are used , thus taking care of our land and avoiding logistical energy costs. taking everyone further and without waste.
Therefore, freeze-drying is a viable solution to combat the phenomenon of food waste in many companies, due to its conservation process.
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