How to Rehydrate Freeze Dried Food: Rehydration Tips

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Let’s go over some guidelines for how to rehydrate freeze dried food: rehydration tips you need to know.

opened sealed pack of freeze dried vegetables and freeze dried meats

Dehydrated foods are great to have in your pantry or storage room for emergencies or last minute meals. Food is freeze dried in a freeze dryer machine. Using a freeze dryer is also a great way to preserve your harvest!

The process takes a 1-2 days, but if it is stored properly, can last up to 25 years. Some people will use a vacuum pump to store their freeze-dried foods in a dry place.

Whether you have purchased freeze-dried meals or freeze dried your own food, you will have one problem. How do you rehydrate freeze dried food?

Benefits of freeze dried food

  • Nutritional Value: freeze dried food is a great way to preserve food and retains more nutrients than any other preservation method.
  • No prep: unlike canning, freeze dried foods can be dried in their original state. Some things may need to be chopped or sliced, but that’s it. Though people also love to freeze dry full meals as well.
  • Survival food: Because freeze dried food can last such a long time, people store it for later and use in their long-term storage. Having such a long shelf life allows this food to be eaten now and/or later, making it very versatile

What foods can be dehydrated?

freeze dried strawberries
  • Dairy: milk, cheese, ice cream, etc.
  • Eggs
  • Noodles
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Fruit Juice: Makes fruit powders
  • Most any Vegetables
  • Raw meat (follow food safety guidelines in your dehydrator manual)
  • Raw foods

Things that are high in fat or dense foods are not recommended for freeze drying.

Do you have to re-hydrate food to eat it?

sliced freeze dried strawberries in a bowl as a snack

The first thing to know is that most freeze dried foods do not need to be rehydrated in order for you to eat them.

Some foods may taste better when rehydrated, but some are even tastier in their freeze dried state. Eating freeze-dried fruits are a more popular snack option for most.

They are a good way to get in a healthy snack or to save time by simply eating the freeze dried food in dry form.

Different ways to re-hydrate food

I’m going to go over two ways to rehydrate your freeze dried food. You can experiment with the different methods and find the best way that works for you and for the type of food you have.

Also, it is important to know that foods that are rehydrated will often have the original taste once re-hydrated, but that is not always the case. So be prepared for that.

#1 Rehydrate using water

woman's hand holding a glass pitcher pouring out water

The biggest struggle is knowing how much water to use when rehydrating your freeze dried foods. The amount depends on the type food you are trying to rehydrate.

For example, rehydrating freeze-dried meat or freeze-dried meals will take longer than freeze-dried fruits. If this is your first time rehydrating freeze dried foods then take it slow.

Start with a small amount of water. There are some websites that give a ratio for how much water to use per cup of freeze-dried food. I Have found that it isn’t always correct.

Pour just enough water so that a very small pool begins to form in the bottom of your bowl, bag or jar. Stir consistently until the food rehydrates.

If you find that your food is not rehydrating add a teaspoon or two more of water.

#2 Use meals to rehydrate your freeze dried foods

Another method is to simply add to soups, stews, or pasta

chicken noodle soup with rehydrated freeze dried celery and left over chicken

s that you are preparing. For example, if you have freeze dried celery, you can add them to your chicken noodle soup.

Or if you have freeze dried chili meat or squash, you can add them to your chili recipe.

NOTE: You will likely need to add about a quarter cup of water to your soup (more or less depending on how much you add into the soup).

IMPORTANT: If you are adding dehydrated vegetables to a meal that doesn’t have watery sauce in it, you will need to rehydrate your veggies separately using method #1 before adding them to your meal. This is the case for something like enchiladas.

Tips for rehydrating dehydrated foods

silver pot with boiling water inside
  • Water temperature matters. Using hot water or boiling water will speed up the process. DO NOT BOIL YOUR FOOD in the water, just add the boiling water. Cold temperature water will work just fine if that is all that you have, it will take a little longer and your food won’t be warm. Don’t use hot water for fruits
  • If you need to rehydrate your food before adding it to a recipe, do the rehydration process before cooking. You don’t want to feel rushed during the process.
  • Use up your rehydrated foods withing a week(in the fridge). Best results occur when they are used sooner than later
  • If your rehydrating your foods and you begin to feel like you have added too much water, remove the water as soon as you can. This will pour out some of the nutrients, so if you can catch it earlier, that is better.

Freeze-dried products you can buy

My husband and I enjoy multiday backpacking trips and freeze dried foods are our go-to-meals because of how light-weight they are.

mountain house freeze dried meal

Sometimes I will make our own just-add-water-meals and I find that to be the best option when I have time to make them, but there are the mountain house meals which are like the back country cuisine meal for some backpackers!

I will pick these up when I am in a pinch before a trip. We also have a few of these in our emergency food supply.

If you are looking to have some emergency preparedness freeze dried meals, we have a few of these buckets of freeze-dried-meals that come with a few weeks worth of food for one person.

My goal is to get to where we provide all of our own long term, emergency-preparedness foods, but for now, I like having these in our basement for emergencies.

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How long does it take to rehydrate dehydrated foods?

It is a good idea to plan for around 5-10 minutes for your food to rehydrate. The type of food and temperature of your water will be what will change how long your food will take to rehydrate.

What are your favorite experiences with freeze dried foods?

Other food preservation methods

Dehydrate Onions: Make Onion Powder

How to Use a DIGITAL Pressure Canner

How to Dehydrate Broccoli

Fermenting Vegetables: Simple Formula

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