“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” – Ruth Reichl
When it comes to food, most people may not always hesitate to try something new, something different. It is one of the qualities of food lovers; they’re always up for new stuff. But more than the taste, one must also consider eating healthy. Especially when you are on a journey or a backpacking trip. After all, you can’t always depend on junk food. There has to be a healthy alternative. This is where easy travel prep meals come into the picture. This is a food that is not only dehydrated but freeze dried while retaining all its essential nutrients and can be taken for months.
While traveling, access to healthy food is a big challenge. We usually have to depend on whatever food is available, which most of the time is junk, containing unwanted calories, fats, and may lead to several health issues on the trip and later as well. This is where freeze dried foods prove to be your best companions. When on a trip, you need to stay healthy, which means you need to consume appropriate nutrients, which is exactly what freeze dried foods offer.
These foods become all the more important while traveling as you get a sufficient intake of all kinds of vitamins and minerals. While the food at airports, stations, or any other spot may not provide you with the required essentials as they are mostly fast foods.
Freeze dried fruits and vegetables are specifically different than other regular foods as they undergo a process where the water content in them is removed while being in a frozen state and they are completely dried using low pressure.
Here’s how freeze drying of food takes place?
The freeze drying process is more about producing clean, dry, and nutritionally rich products that help you have a safe and healthy journey. So before we can turn to the health benefits of freeze drying, we shall delve into the process of freeze drying to understand the exact procedure. Also known as lyophilization, freeze drying revolves around the removal of moisture, which is the major reason behind the food contamination, from raw and frozen products through vacuum and sublimation. The frozen raw product is then cut down to the required piece size and spread evenly onto trays which are stored in freezers. What happens now is that the sized product freezes at an even colder temperature, reaching an optimal state at which the original shape of the product can be retained. The trays, in the next stage, are filled into a freeze-drying chamber, which is refrigerated and is tightly shut. The chamber’s vacuum system removes ice from the product converting it directly into a vapor without moving through the liquid state, in a process called sublimation.
We also need to know the types of food that can be packed, stored, and consumed during a journey. Here are a few freeze dried food options that you can take along on your backpacking trip or a journey of more than a few weeks and months:
For full-fledged meals
- MRE beef meal is the perfect pick for your trip to colder areas. This product is ready to eat meal that is rich in high nutritional content. With zero refrigeration required, it has a shelf life of up to 5 years when stored at 70 degrees or cooler.
- Chiang Mai Coconut Curry with Beef: This combination of rice noodles with beef is just the perfect blend of taste and nutrients that you would love on the way. A meal that is gluten and dairy-free.
Apart from this, there’s chicken & rice, chicken lasagna, cooked chicken and much more for your go-to pantry
- Summit breakfast scramble New 2020: The product contains red beans, scrambled eggs, cheddar cheese, and pepper, perfect for a morning on a backpacking trip in the mountains.
- Risotto with chicken: This blend of creamy Parmesan cheese, rice broccoli corn, onion, bell pepper, and tomatoes is an ideal breakfast on a long journey.
Well, there are infinite options to choose from right from Peanut butter & raisin oatmeal to Granola with bananas, almonds & milk, that make for a perfectly healthy breakfast, which is both easy to make and lightweight.
Here are some major benefits of freeze dried foods:
What makes freeze dried food popular is their travel friendliness. These products are perfectly suited for travel. A journey where you need to travel for days, even months, where food stores are scarce and junk food in abundance, freeze dried products are perfect for such kind of a travel. Not only does it requires minimum space, but is also lightweight, which makes it an ideal item for even backpacking trips.
Dehydrated foods require cooking, even seasoning sometimes. So one needs to boil the food and let it cook for some time. This usually takes at least 15 minutes to four hours. One most beneficial aspect of freeze dried foods is that they can be easily prepared. So you just need to add hot or cold water to the freeze dried food and you’re good to go. In other words, they make for a quick meal option, wherever you are.
So be it a hotel room or a primitive area with the least available facilities, you can prepare a meal for yourself easily. Like if you have freeze dried sweet potatoes with you, all you need to do is rehydrate them by adding water and let them soak the heat and you’re good to go. Freeze dried fruits on the contrary can also be consumed directly from the pack as they do not require rehydration.
There is a reason why freeze dried food is so popularly used on backpacking trips. The products are extremely easy to carry. Because of the freeze drying process, the food becomes lightweight as the water content is removed and obviously becomes smaller than the actual size. This is why freeze dried food can fit into your suitcase or bags comfortably. Freeze dried fruits and vegetables can be directly consumed without hydrating them. These work as an instant energy booster while hiking or trekking.
Freeze dried foods can be stored for a long time. If you happen to travel to a place with no refrigeration facility or a place where you cannot adjust to the menus, you could always depend on freeze dried foods. Since they do not require refrigeration, they can be well-stored and consumed as they won’t go bad. So if you are traveling for more than one day, freeze dried foods will always have your back. Fresh produce cannot be stored as it poses the threat of food poisoning. Therefore, the high durability of freeze dried food is the main reason why it is preferred by trekkers and hikers and even during emergencies.
- One of the best things about freeze dried foods is that they are rich in nutrients. This is very important because the body needs all kinds of vitamins and minerals, especially when you’re out on a tour where most of the food you will find is junk. Even though the fresh produce may have slightly more nutrients than freeze dried foods, the latter is rich in fiber and antioxidants, making the nutritional difference negligible.
- Dehydrating and canning involve the heating of food which usually hampers the nutritional value of the food by breaking down its vitamin and mineral contents like vitamins A and C, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin. Further, the taste is also affected as the food fibers are broken down, which even changes the texture of the food.
- According to the process mentioned above, the actual color and shape of the raw materials are also retained and maintained due to freeze drying. Since the raw materials remain intact and unspoiled, the body can efficiently consume the food while maintaining its required level of nutritional intake. All this makes Freeze dried food highly nutritious and beneficial for the body. Several health issues can be avoided and tackled if it is carried along on long journeys.
Freeze dried food is a lifesaver during emergencies too, where you do not have access to food. In situations where you are stuck in an isolated place or if your car breaks down in the middle of the journey with nowhere to go, having freeze fried foods packed with you is a blessing in disguise. This is the reason freeze dried food is sent to places with emergencies such as floods or other natural disasters.
- Making the food scrumptious
Not only does freeze drying increases the nutritional value of the food, it also makes it more appetizing. When you dehydrate the food, it becomes hard and crunchy, and if the same food is freeze dried, it tends to become soft again as soon as you put it in the mouth. It thus is nutritious as well as succulent. Apart from dried fruits and vegetables, even dairy products can be freeze dried. On first thought, cheese or yogurt or any dairy product for that matter, may not be your first choice for freeze drying. But surprisingly, probiotics and nutrients in a dairy can be best preserved through freeze drying. Rehydration of cheese is quite easy and once rehydrated; this cheese melts just as good in the mouth as regular cheese.
If you are traveling for days, you are going to need food that will not just last for days but will fit properly in your bags without making them heavy. And, freeze dried food is definitely light and easy to carry. It can be carried along for months without worrying about food poisoning.
What freeze dried food is popular for is its surprising durability. Dried fruits, soy powder, and dried vegetables have a shelf life of about 20 years and items like honey, salt, and sugar have shelf value of almost 30 years. These foods have the highest and longest durability with the food remaining edible for at least 25 to 30 years. Furthermore, this food can be stored at extreme temperatures. It can survive extremely hot and cold climatic conditions without getting affected. So the longevity of these products is one of the major reasons why they are carried along during long journeys.
In contemporary times, where one needs to take the utmost care of their health, freeze dried foods offer the best solution. The junk food which is commonly found around us is hazardous for health. It is rich in calories, which ultimately leads to obesity and other severe health issues. So in order to avoid such a mess while on a trip, depending on freeze dried foods is the best option as it not just keeps you energetic but also fulfills your body’s nutritional needs. These foods take care of your health by keeping the calorie intake in check.
So Freeze dried food is the perfect solution for an emergency or a backpacking trip. As compared to the conventionally dried fruits and vegetables, freeze dried foods offer much lesser calories and are healthier. Lesser the calories, lower the chances of unwanted health issues. As these foods undergo a vigorous process of vacuum and sublimation, which dehydrates them while freezing, they make for a healthy food option for longer journeys. Apart from being lightweight, freeze dried foods are easy to digest too. And, digestion becomes important when one is traveling for months. Therefore, when on a backpacking trip, or a year-long tour, don’t forget to pack freeze dried meals for traveling as these ensure a balanced and healthy diet on the way.