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Dehydrated or Freeze-dried outdoor meals – what is the difference and how to make a right choice?

Dehydrated or Freeze-dried outdoor meals – what is the difference and how to make a right choice?

Sail to the top, c'est la vie

March 13, 2023 by tactical_adm

Too many outdoor meals on the market? Are you an outdoor enthusiast or a hiking fan looking for the perfect […]

Too many outdoor meals on the market?

Are you an outdoor enthusiast or a hiking fan looking for the perfect meal to fuel your adventures? With so many options available in the market, it can be overwhelming to choose the right fit for you. Don’t fret; we’ve got you covered. In this article, we’ll discuss the two main technologies used in outdoor meal production: freeze-drying and dehydration. Whether you’re a seasoned adventurer or a newbie, our guide will help you make an informed choice.

Different outdoor meals in a market – freeze-dried, dehydrated and combined technologies.

What sets dehydrated and freeze-dried meals apart? Both are lightweight, easy to store, and quick to prepare. However, there are some significant differences you need to know:

Preservation method: Freeze-dried meals are preserved by lyophilization, a process that involves freezing the food and then removing the water by exposing it to a vacuum. Dehydrated meals, on the other hand, are preserved by heat in a dehydrator or an oven.

Texture and appearance: Freeze-drying removes water more efficiently than dehydration, so freeze-dried foods retain more of their original shape, size, and texture. Dehydrated meals might look smaller and less distinct, and they might be more brittle and crumbly.

Nutritional content: Both dehydrated and freeze-dried foods can be healthy, but freeze-dried food is generally healthier because it maintains a higher nutritional value (around 97%) than dehydrated food (around 60%). The freeze-drying process freezes foods, creates a vacuum around them, and then slowly warms them up, causing the water to turn into a gas. The dehydration process uses higher heat to dry the food, which can damage more of the nutrients.

Shelf life: Freeze-drying removes 98-99% of the moisture in foods, while dehydration removes about 80-90%. Because both processes remove so much moisture, they’re great for long-term food storage. However, freeze-drying removes more moisture, giving it a longer shelf life than dehydration.

Preparation and rehydration: Freeze-dried foods can be rehydrated in 5 minutes or less using cold or warm water, while dehydrated foods take 10-20 minutes to rehydrate using boiling water. Both types of food can be eaten without rehydrating, but freeze-dried foods are the better option in an emergency situation because they take less time and energy to rehydrate.

Food flavour: Freeze-dried foods tend to retain most of their flavour, while dehydrated foods can lose some of their flavour due to the heating process. Freeze-drying immediately freezes the food, locking in the flavour before removing the moisture. Dehydration uses a constant flow of low heat to remove moisture, which can cause the food to lose some of its flavour.

Most popular outdoor meals on the market

When it comes to outdoor meals, both freeze-dried and dehydrated options are fantastic choices. However, freeze drying has some distinct advantages, which is why it tends to come with a slightly higher price tag than dehydrated meals. But wait, there’s more! Some brands even use a combination of these two technologies – for example, freeze-drying the meat since it takes in water the longest, while dehydrating the rest of the ingredients. This option is also great because you won’t have to suffer from hunger pangs during your hike, and you’ll still get a delicious meal. However, it’s important to note that the mixed meals have lower amounts of nutrients and vitamins than those where all ingredients are freeze-dried. Speaking of taste, the difference in flavour can also be influenced by whether the food is mixed together from different dehydrated or freeze-dried components, or if it’s first fully prepared to have the best flavours and then freeze-dried or dehydrated.

Freeze dried outdoor meal before freeze drying, after freeze drying and after rehydration.
Tactical Foodpack / Pasta and Vegetables

And finally, it’s important to pay attention to the ingredients list as well. Some brands may use artificial flavours, colors, and preservatives, while others opt for natural ingredients. Additionally, some ingredients may not be as healthy or sustainable as others, such as those containing palm oil or too much sugar. If you’re looking for a healthier and more sustainable option, consider choosing meals with natural ingredients and minimal additives, so you can enjoy your outdoor meal with peace of mind knowing that you’re making a conscious choice.

In conclusion, whether you choose freeze-dried or dehydrated outdoor meals, it’s important to consider all aspects of the meal, including the preservation method, nutritional content, shelf life, preparation, and flavour. Don’t forget to also pay attention to the ingredients list and choose meals with natural and sustainable ingredients for a healthier and more satisfying outdoor experience.

Tactical Foodpack Beef Spaghetti Bolognese – freeze dried and rehydrated outdoor meal

All Tactical Foodpack meals are made from carefully selected ingredients. Each meal is prepared with the same attention to detail as a home-cooked meal, allowing the meat to stew for several hours and the spices and sauces to develop their flavours. This ensures that each dish is perfectly balanced and mouth-watering. No flavour enhancers or preservatives are used in the preparation of our meals.

After the meals are prepared, they are freeze-dried and packaged in an airtight, unique container that can even be heated over a fire if necessary. The easiest way to prepare the meal is by adding hot water, mixing it in, and waiting just 8-10 minutes. This means you can enjoy a full-fledged gourmet meal whether you’re on a hiking trail, at sea, on a road trip, or just at home.

Choose your favourite meal from our selection and experience the convenience and delicious taste of Tactical Foodpack.