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How to freeze dry meat

How to freeze dry meat

Can you make freeze dried food at home with NO machine to create your own emergency food supply?

Yes, it’s absolutely possible, but it does come with a few caveats.

This may come as a shock to many, but you don’t need one of the big fancy freeze drying machines to actually make your own freeze dried food. However, it will take some time and effort to turn out your own freeze dried food and it won’t have the full 25 year emergency food shelf life that professionally freeze dried food has, but if you’re going to eat it relatively soon, that won’t matter.

Instead of spending $2000 – $4000 on a freeze drying machine, I’m going to show you how you can freeze dry food for a fraction of the price. However, you can also buy a selection of freeze dried fruits and vegetables to make sure you like and will use the end product.

Let’s discuss how you can do this at home.

1. Freeze Drying Food – The Home Freezer Method

How to freeze dry meat

Quick Step-by-Step to Freeze-Drying with a Freezer:

  1. Place Your Food On a Tray
  2. Put The Tray In Your Freezer
  3. Wait 2-3 Weeks
  4. Store Your Food in Air-Free Bag

One misconception is that the freeze drying is a massively complex procedure, when in reality, you can do it in your home freezer.

The only thing you need is a normal cookie sheet or cooling rack.

All you need to do is place your food in small pieces and place them in your freezer.

A deep freezer works best but your normal freezer will work.

The food starts to freeze in the first few hours itself, but it’s important to note that the drying process will take weeks before you’ll have the freeze dried food you want.

This process is known as sublimation and is what separates freeze drying from simply freezing food inside of sealed bags or containers like we’re all used to doing.

The best way to check when the food is done drying is to remove a frozen piece and let it come to room temp.

If the food turns dark or black, it means the drying process is still not over.

Frozen food that doesn’t change color has been freeze dried thoroughly.

Knowing if you’ve made freeze dried food is definitely more of an art than a science and will take a trail and error process to get it right.

It is important to note that starting out with simple foods that have a high water content is the best place to start.

Try things fruits like apples, berries, and bananas. Or try vegetables like broccoli and peppers. These are the easiest to do and practice on. If you move on to freeze dried meat, it gets a little trickier.

Once that has been achieved, you can go ahead and store the freeze dried food in ziplock bags.

Freeze-dried food should be kept in storage that stays under 75 degrees.

2. Freeze Drying Food – The Dry Ice Method

How to freeze dry meat

Quick Step-by-Step to Freeze-Drying with Dry Ice:

  1. Put Your Food in Freezer-Safe Bags
  2. Place The Freezer Bags in a Large Cooler
  3. Cover the Food with Dry Ice
  4. Wait 24 Hours
  5. Remove the Bags of Food and Store

Because dry ice let’s all moisture from food evaporate very quickly, the whole process is much faster than method one.

The most important thing is that you need to find a day where the humidity is zero, if not the process will be substantially harder.

Using insulted gloves and a container at least double the size of the food you are freezing.

Place the food in the container and completely cover the food with dry ice.

Using a 1:1 ratio of 1 lb. of dry ice for every 1 lb. of food.

DO NOT SEAL THE CONTAINER. It will explode because of the expanding gasses.

If you have to use a lid, make sure to drill holes.

Let the process take its course and wait until there is no more dry ice in the container.

The container is now completely full of carbon dioxide and free from any moisture.

Do not remove the food until you are ready to place it in bags immediately.

We suggest using these bags to store your food, also make sure to remove as much of the air as possible, use a vacuum sealer for best results.

Pay attention to the bags and make sure no moister enters the bag, that will ruin all your hard work!

Conclusion – How to Freeze Dry Food at Home

If you are dead set on doing your freeze drying from home, this could be a great option for you, over spending $3,000-$4,000 on Harvest Right Freeze Drier.

Lucky for you – we’ve given you the best ways to freeze dry without any more expensive equipment.

If all of that sounds incredibly time consuming, not to mention expensive, you can always let us here at Valley Food Storage’s selection of survival food do all of the hard work for you.

Just sit back, relax and enjoy freeze dried vegetables, freeze dried fruits that tastes like you just picked it up right from the farm. And freeze dried meats and proteins that are easy and nutritious.

How to freeze dry meat

I am very excited about using this as another way to preserve food, as I feel an urgency to prepare for times when food might not be as plentiful.

This is the best thing we have purchased in a LONG time and we can’t wait for summer to freeze dry fruits and veggies from our own garden. I can’t recommend your freeze dryer enough! We have told everyone we know about it.

Your customer service went above and beyond their duties to help. Their efforts and courtesy were extraordinary and deserve a big pat on the back. I tell everyone about your wonderful freeze dryers and fantastic service. Blessings to you all.

We are so pleased with how all of the foods come out.…we have freeze dried roast beef, chicken, peas, carrots, green beans, lima beans, potatoes, strawberries, bananas, cauliflower; and we even preserved a roasted vegetable medley mix—all with great results. Everything tasted as if we had just harvested it.

It is wonderful to freeze dry food that we have prepared. Drying the food ourselves is significantly less expensive than what we would have to pay to buy such food elsewhere. We are in control of the ingredients and are able to prepare long-term food storage that meets our needs.

– Michelle and Tyler

This unit is heavy duty construction, reliable and user friendly. We have enjoyed freeze drying fruits and vegetables in season, meats, leftovers and dessert items…the only limit is your imagination. Harvest Right’s customer service is knowledgeable, friendly and trustworthy.

I freeze dried both cooked and raw pork chops; the cooked pork chops tasted great cold without reconstituting them, the raw pork chops reconstituted beautifully and fried up great. I could not tell them from fresh pork chops. Now I can put away exactly the foods I want.

Jennifer is a full-time homesteader who started her journey in the foothills of North Carolina in 2010. Currently, she spends her days gardening, caring for her orchard and vineyard, raising chickens, ducks, goats, and bees. Jennifer is an avid canner who provides almost all food for her family needs. She enjoys working on DIY remodeling projects to bring beauty to her homestead in her spare times.

How to freeze dry meat

Have you tasted freeze dried food recently?

I hadn’t until one of our friends invested in a freeze dryer. I was amazed at how tasty the food was and how easy this method to preserve food is.

It’s truly mind-blowing. As blown away as I was, I could only assume others might be as interested in learning more about this method as I was.

I’m going to share with you what freeze-drying is, how to go about preserving food in this manner (with or without a machine), which foods work best for freeze-drying, and how to store the foods once they’ve been through this process.

Let’s get moving and explore how freeze drying could be a food preservation method which works great for you:

How to freeze dry meat

What is Freeze Drying?

How to freeze dry meat

Freeze drying is a food preservation method that removes all liquid from a particular food without impacting the taste.

It’s a 2-step process that starts by freezing your food. Once the food is frozen, it goes through a vacuum cycle.

This cycle will take all the ice crystals formed during freezing and turn them into vapor. The vapor is removed from the food, and from this point forward, the food is safe for storage without losing any of its color or taste.

How to Freeze Dry Food

Freeze drying sounds like a fancy method for preserving food which would lead you to assume it’s overly complicated.

However, freeze-drying food has been around for many years. It isn’t difficult and can be accomplished with or without a machine. Here’s how:

Freeze Drying with a Machine

Freeze drying food with a machine is as simple as it comes. You wash the foods you’re planning on preserving and cut them into manageable size pieces.

When the food has been prepped, place it on the tray of the machine, turn it on, and use the machine per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Once the food finishes drying, place it in a sealed plastic bag and store. Though drying foods with a machine is fast and easy, the device itself is quite expensive.

You can expect to spend quite a lot of money. Be prepared to invest if you’d like to take the easier path using this method to preserve your food.

Freeze Drying Without a Machine

Freeze drying with a machine is a simple process, but doing it without a machine isn’t terribly complicated either.

The main difference between using a machine and not using one is the amount of time the process takes.

If you dry food without a machine, you should prep the food as you would before preserving it with any other method.

When the food is ready to go, place it on an air-drying rack where the air can fully circulate around the food.

Place the tray inside a deep freezer and leave it. At first, the food will freeze. Over a matter of weeks, the food will become dry.

You’ll know the food has fully dried by removing one piece. If the food doesn’t change color as it thaws, you’ll see the process is complete.

Which Foods Work Best for Freeze Drying?

This method seems easy, doesn’t it? It may even be worth the investment in your eyes, but does it work for all kinds of foods? Here are the foods freeze-drying works best with:

1. High Water Content

Any food which has high water content should work well for freeze-drying. The higher the water content, the smoother the process works.

Therefore, if you have an item you can’t find listed anywhere and are wondering if you could freeze-dry it, check the water content.

2. Produce

How to freeze dry meat

Most produce is known for having a higher water content. A few common fruits and vegetables which work best for freeze-drying are:

3. Meats

Meat is a tricky item when trying to preserve because of its thickness. If you can meat, you must be careful of how thick it is, or it can leave room for bacteria.

If you dry meat, you must be careful of the thickness or it won’t dry thoroughly. You don’t need to fear meat when it comes to freeze-drying; it can be preserved in this method both cooked and raw.

4. Pantry Staples

If you open your pantry do you have any grains or pasta on the shelf? If you’d like to store them for long-term use, then this is your method.

Though you might not look at pasta or grains and consider them a high-water content food, they work extremely well with this method.

5. Dairy

How to freeze dry meat

Freeze drying is amazing because if you have dairy (Greek yogurt, ice cream, etc.) getting ready to bite the dust, it doesn’t have to.

Instead, you can run it through your machine, and it will preserve it. It isn’t as creamy when freeze-dried, but it’s still good.

6. Eggs

If you raise chickens, there are certain times of the year when you feel overrun with eggs. What should you do with them?

They freeze-dry well. You can run them through the machine both raw or cooked. It is a great way to keep eggs on hand all year long without having to buy them when the hens take a break.

7. Leafy Greens

Freezing any type of leafy green can be considered a no-go by many. Yet, things are different with this method.

If you have leafy greens you’d like to be able to keep on hand for soups or other dishes, consider freeze-drying them.

How to Store Food Once Freeze Dried

Your foods are now freeze-dried. What should you do now? When foods have completed their drying cycle, you should store them in a plastic bag or container which seals.

There’s no need to store the items in the freezer or refrigerator. Instead, store them in a cool location that doesn’t reach temperatures above 75°F.

This could be a root cellar, in a pantry, or even a cabinet in most homes.

Food preservation hasn’t seemed this easy for most generations, but we’re the lucky ones. You can dry your food for long-term storage in only a few hours.

You can also store it without any special requirements for the long haul as well. If you’re searching for an easy method to preserve food, you may have found it in freeze-drying.

Whether you’re stocking up to save some bucks or to save yourself from the end times.

How to freeze dry meat

So you’re interested in lyophilisating some goji berries? In the mood to cryodessicate rutabaga? So maybe you’re going camping. Maybe you’re a prepper. Maybe you like buying in bulk. Whatever the reason, you’ve got a few options.

For foods with high water content, freeze-drying—the process of removing water content at low temperatures—may be your best option. It’s extremely low maintenance, and it preserves nutrients. The only real downside is the amount of time it takes, depending on the technique you use.

Here are a couple ways to do it.

Option 1: Freezer Only

How to freeze dry meat

The easiest place to start is fruits and vegetables like apples, berries, potatoes, and carrots. (If you’re more advanced, meats and larger meals can be freeze-dried, too.) For larger foods, chop into small pieces; for berries you can use as-is. Put them on a tray, spaced so they don’t touch. Put the tray in the freezer (if you need one, this one and this one are personal favorites), ideally with the freezer as empty as possible, and set it to its lowest temperature setting.

Then all you have to do is wait.

First, the foods will freeze. Next, the ice will sublime out of them—that’s when water goes straight from ice to gas without turning to liquid first, remember? When all the ice has sublimated out of the food, it’s done. You can test this by taking a piece out of the freezer. If it turns black, it’s not completely dried. Expect the whole process to take at least one week. When complete, the food can be stored in Ziploc bags anywhere that stays at or below room temperature.

Option 2: Dry Ice

How to freeze dry meat

Using dry ice speeds up the process considerably. It’s colder, and as the dry ice itself sublimes, it takes moisture content with it. The key here is to pack it properly. Put your food items in Ziploc bags first, then pack them and dry ice into a cooler at a 1:1 ratio by weight. You can loosely close the cooler lid, but don’t seal it: The gas from the dry ice will build up and cause an explosion.

Freeze-drying is complete when all the dry ice is gone (though, as before, you can test the food by removing a small piece and seeing if it turns black). This process should only take about a day.

About Reconstituting Food…

…It’s pretty easy. Set some water to boil. Put your freeze-dried chunks in a bowl. Once the water is boiling, add a little bit of water to the bowl. The food will slowly absorb the water. Give it a minute, then test a piece for flavor or texture.

The freeze drying process was first applied to food products after the Second World War, in order to preserve and store foods without the need for refrigeration. Coffee was one of the first freeze dried food products to be produced, but now vegetables, fruits, meats, fish, dairy products, herbs and food flavourings can be successfully freeze dried.

Food Freeze Drying Process

Freeze drying food uses a process called lyophilization to lower the temperature of the product to below freezing, and then a high-pressure vacuum is applied to extract the water in the form of vapour. The vapour collects on a condenser, turns back to ice and is removed. Finally, a gradual temperature rise extracts all remaining ‘bound’ moisture from the product. This process retains the physical structure of the food product and preserves it for re-hydration at a later date.

Advantages of Freeze Drying Food

With freeze drying, foods and liquids can be dried at low temperatures without damaging their physical structure. Freeze-dried foods don’t need to be refrigerated or preserved with chemicals and can be reconstituted quickly and easily by adding water.

Conventional drying methods also have a major disadvantage as the high temperatures used can cause chemical or physical changes. Changing the taste or texture of a food product could make it inedible or less palatable which would be very undesirable.

Food Types Suitable For Freeze Drying

  • Coffee
  • Fruit and juice
  • Vegetables
  • Meat
  • Fish and Seafood
  • Eggs
  • Dairy

Some foods freeze dry very well, but not all food is suitable for freeze drying. Small fruits and vegetables can be easily freeze dried, whereas whole fruits and large vegetables would not be suitable, although they can be freeze dried if cut into small pieces first. This also applies to meat; small chunks of meat freeze dries well, but larger fillets need to be cut into pieces. Meat and seafood also require cooking before freeze drying. For some foods freeze drying is not cost-effective.

Cuddon designs and manufactures freeze drying machines for sale worldwide.

Freeze drying is also suitable for a range of other items including pharmaceuticals, flowers and documents. View other freeze drying applications.

Contact us with your freeze drying equipment enquiries.

Freeze drying for the effective preservation and storage of food products.

Our freeze dried meat ingredients will enhance your recipe or application. Real meat but with shelf stable convenience. We lock in the flavour, nutrients, colour, aroma and texture to ensure the best ingredients for our customers.

How to freeze dry meat

We provide a variety of meat products in diced, minced, sliced or powdered forms that can be added to any meat-based dish. In addition to this we are continually extending our range with innovative ingredients such as flavoured and pulled meats. Common uses are meals such as pasta dishes, curry, stir fries or soups and consommés.

Our freeze dried meat products can be stored easily and rapidly rehydrated making them ideal for any catering environment, large or small. Our meats are also ideal as premium pet treats.

How to freeze dry meat

Bespoke Freeze-dried Ingredients

We can tailor our products to suit your needs. Choose the features that fit your products and standards.

Real Meat

Ambient Storage

Microbially Stable

Long Shelf Life

Great Flavour

Product Range

Freeze Dried Meat with great flavour and texture

Freeze dried meat is fresh-tasting and nutritious. Compared to other preservation methods it locks in all the flavour and nutrition, without making the texture chewy or hard. As soon as it’s rehydrated, the moist, soft texture of the meat returns, making it the ideal ingredient for meat-based dishes. Please see below for a selection of our freeze dried meat ingredients.

Freeze-drying your food or surplus garden harvest is an excellent method to keep them. Sublimation is when water is removed from food straight from a solid to a vapor or gas state. Freeze drying is one of the most acceptable methods for preserving food since it holds about 100% of the nutritional content of the food.

Canning and dehydrating food alter the flavor and nutritional content of the food; it also changes the color and diminishes the nutritional value by approximately half. Freeze-dried meals may be preserved for up to 25 years in the refrigerator, pantry, or cellar. They are compact and portable, ideal for camping dinners or an emergency food supply.

Food Preparation for Freeze-Drying

Choose the freshest selections possible before freeze-drying your meals. Remove any particles, dirt, or toxins from your food by washing it. Then, chop the meat into small pieces or chunks to remove excess liquid using a sharp knife. However, you may freeze-dry prepared meals.

Once your food is prepped, you may start the freeze-drying process. We’ve compiled a list of the most popular methods for freeze-drying food.

How to Use a Freeze-Dryer to Freeze Dry Food?

This is an excellent alternative if you can afford a freeze-dryer because they are made explicitly for freeze-drying. Several possibilities are available, so choose a dryer that makes economic sense. The advantage of these dryers is that they come with many trays for various meals.

  • Fill the trays with your items, ensuring that the food does not exceed the tray’s height.
  • Close the dryer doors and place the trays inside (Some models have two doors).
  • Freeze the food at a temperature of -40 to -50 degrees.
  • Allow 24 hours for completion of the process.
  • Once completed, seal the food in mylar bags.

Using a Freezer to Freeze Dry Food

A home freezer simplifies the process for anyone interested in freeze-drying food for the first time. If you have a deep freezer, this is an even better alternative. However, your standard home freezer will continue to function normally.

  • After spreading the food out, transfer it to a tray or plate.
  • Place the tray in the freezer — the food must be frozen completely.
  • Allow the food to remain frozen until thoroughly freeze-dried – approximately 2 to 3 weeks.
  • Once finished, place it in an airtight storage bag and keep it in your freezer or pantry.

How to Use Dry Ice to Freeze-Dry Food?

Dry ice is far faster than utilizing a freezer. This is because dry ice rapidly evaporates moisture from meals.

  • Food should be packaged in freezer-safe packaging.
  • In a more relaxed, place the bags.
  • Cover the bags completely with dry ice and set them aside for approximately 24 hours.
  • Remove the bags and store them after they have entirely freeze-dried.

How to Use a Vacuum Chamber to Freeze Dry Food?

While this is the most cost-effective technique, it is also the most time-consuming. To freeze-dry your food, you’ll need a specialized vacuum chamber. The chambers are specifically designed to accelerate the freeze-drying process.

  • Distribute the food evenly on a tray or plate, avoiding clumping it together.
  • In a freezer, freeze the food until it is solid.
  • Set the chamber’s pressure to roughly 120 m Torr and ten °C.
  • Allow at least a week for optimal sublimation of the food in the chamber.
  • Once the procedure is complete, transfer the food to airtight storage containers.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can dry food be frozen at home?

Yes, if you know-how, you can freeze fried food at home. You may freeze-dry your food using a freeze-dryer, a freezer, dry ice, or a vacuum chamber. To freeze-dry your food for future use, simply follow the methods outlined above. Freeze-drying at home is far less expensive than commercial services. If this is your first experience of freeze-drying food, begin with essential items like apples, bananas, and berries. Vegetables such as pepper and broccoli are also excellent for practicing on – if you’re confident with the results, you can go on to other sorts of meals. Keep in mind that properly frozen food maintains its original color.

  • How long does freezing dry food take?

Depending on the method used, freeze-drying food takes anything from 20 hours to a month. Additionally, it is dependent on the sort of food being freeze-dried. Corn, beef, and peas, for example, dry rapidly, but melons and squash take longer. Additionally, the thickness of the food slices affects the freeze-drying period. It takes around 20 to 40 hours if you have a freeze-dryer.

However, this freeze-drying apparatus is too expensive for domestic usage. The most effective dryers range in price from $2,000 to $5,000. Nonetheless, there are choices available for less than $2,000. While using a regular freezer is the cheapest method, freeze-drying your food effectively can take up to a month. Dry ice is another quick alternative. It does, however, require somewhat more effort than utilizing a regular freezer.

  • What foods are ineligible for freeze-drying?

This method of food preservation is excellent for vegetables and fruits, but it is not restricted to them. Additionally, you may freeze-dry sweets, meats, dairy products, and prepared meals. However, certain items should not be frozen dried. Butter, honey, jam, syrup, pure chocolate, and peanut butter are examples of this.

  • How to freeze-dry fruit without a machine at home?

If you do not possess a freeze-dryer, a home freezer and dry ice are readily available to most householders. Make sure to follow the instructions outlined above when freezing-drying your goods using these methods. When utilizing these techniques, keep testing your items before saving them.

  • How are freeze-dried meals rehydrated?

While certain freeze-dried items may be consumed frozen, others require rehydration, such as meat and vegetables. Simply place your heart in warm or hot water for a few minutes to rehydrate it. Vegetables may merely be sprinkled with water. Alternatively, you may consume them raw.

Freeze-drying is a special form of drying that removes all moisture and tends to have less of an effect on a food’s taste than normal dehydration does.

In freeze-drying, food is frozen and placed in a strong vacuum. The water in the food then sublimates — that is, it turns straight from ice into vapor. Freeze-drying is most commonly used to make instant coffee, but also works extremely well on fruits such as apples.

An Experiment in Freeze-Drying

You probably don’t have a good vacuum chamber at home, but you almost certainly have a refrigerator. If you don’t mind waiting a week, you can experiment with freeze-drying at home using your freezer.

For this experiment you will need a tray, preferably one that is perforated. If you have something like a cake-cooling rack or a metal mesh tray, that is perfect. You can use a cookie sheet or a plate if that is all that you have, but the experiment will take longer.

Now you will need something to freeze-dry. Three good candidates are apples, potatoes and carrots (apples have the advantage that they taste okay in their freeze-dried state). With a knife, cut your apple, potato and/or carrot as thin as you can (try all three if you have them). Cut them paper-thin if you can do it — the thinner you cut, the less time the experiment will take. Then arrange your slices on your rack or tray and put them in the freezer. You want to do this fairly quickly or else your potato and/or apple slices will discolor.

In half an hour, look in on your experiment. The slices should be frozen solid.

Over the next week, look in on your slices. What will happen is that the water in the slices will sublimate away. That is, the water in the slices will convert straight from solid water to water vapor, never going through the liquid state (this is the same thing that mothballs do, going straight from a solid to a gaseous state). After a week or so (depending on how cold your freezer is and how thick the slices are), your slices will be completely dry. To test apple or potato slices for complete drying, take one slice out and let it thaw. It will turn black almost immediately if it is not completely dry.

When all of the slices are completely dry, what you have is freeze-dried apples, potatoes and carrots. You can "reconstitute" them by putting the slices in a cup or bowl and adding a little boiling water (or add cold water and microwave). You can eat the apples in their dried state or you can reconstitute them. What you will notice is that the reconstituted vegetables look and taste pretty much like the original! That is why freeze-drying is a popular preservation technique.

Articles

Updated: May 20, 2021

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How to freeze dry meat

More by Andy Hirneisen, MA

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