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Freeze Dried Fruit vs Dehydrated Fruit: What’s the Difference

Freeze Dried Fruit vs Dehydrated Fruit, What’s the Difference

Freeze dried fruit vs dehydrated fruit may sometimes be a difficult decision to make. Both freeze dried fruits and dehydrated fruits are great snacks. They are both delicious, healthy, and durable. However, they are processed with different methods, so there are some differences between them.
These differences are rooted in their processing methods. So we begin our discussion with a short description of freeze drying and dehydrating. More differences will be addressed as we continue our discussion.


Freeze drying vs dehydrating processes

As mentioned before, the way freeze dried fruit vs dehydrated fruit are produced determines their differences. After initial preparation, fruits are arranged on trays and placed in the freeze drying machine.

Freeze dried raspberries vs dehydrated raspberries appearances. Freeze dried fruits keep their structure.
Freeze dried raspberries vs dehydrated raspberries. Freeze dried raspberries keep their structures.

To-be freeze dried fruits enter the lyophilization process for about 18 to 36 hours. The process includes following steps:

🟢 Flash freezing

The fruit enters the primary cooling process for a few minutes.
Then the temperature falls to around -48 degrees Celsius, so the fruit freezes within a few hours. The fruit’s water crystallizes quickly without damaging the fruit structure.

🟢 Sublimation and primary drying:

The pressure is reduced considerably, so the ice molecules break away from the surrounding molecules. And the temperature never exceeds +40 degrees Celsius. This leads to sublimation, the transformation of ice to gas without going through the liquid phase.

🟢 Secondary drying

During the secondary drying, the remaining water in the fruit is evaporated by slightly raising the temperature. The sublimated water is turned into ice and leaves the system. Now you have crispy freeze dried fruits.

Dehydration, on the other hand, relies on heat. To-be dehydrated fruits are placed in a dehydrator at 140 -170 degrees Celsius for about 8 to 10 hours. They gradually lose water. In the end, you have chewy, shrunk dried fruits.

Freeze drying vs dehydrating shelf life

Dehydrated fruit can typically lose up to 90 percent of its moisture in an industrial setting. Home dehydrators may only remove 80% of the water in the fruit, resulting in a shorter shelf life. Dehydrated fruits can typically last for 12 months. Thanks to top-end dehydration equipment, it is possible to increase their shelf life to 5 years or even longer. Rarely dehydrated fruits can last more than 15 years in proper storage conditions.

Freeze dried fruit is much more suitable for long‐term storage. Around 98‐99 percent of the moisture in the freeze dried fruit is removed during the lyophilization process. This gives the freeze dried fruits a shelf life of 25 years. You can read about this topic in another article titled “all about freeze dried fruits shelf life.”

In both freeze dried fruit vs dehydrated fruit, cooler temperatures will help prolong the shelf life. Food is recommended to be stored in a cool, dark, and dry place at temperatures below 70 degrees Fahrenheit (21 degrees Celsius).

Freeze drying vs dehydrating nutrition comparison

Freeze dried fruit maintains most (about 97%) of its nutrients. After rehydration, the freeze dried fruit is very similar in nutritional value to its fresh counterpart. However, it loses some of its fiber and vitamin C. In contrast, dried fruit loses 75-90% of its moisture and nearly 40% of its nutrition through heat treatment. The heat is associated with losing vitamins A and C, thiamine, riboflavin, and niacin.

Freeze drying vs dehydrating taste and flavor

The photo shows different taste buds and some freeze dried strawberries. Strawberries taste sweet.
strawberries taste sweet and sour.

Flavor is important in food. We would like our fruits to taste as natural as possible. Who doesn’t? We wouldn’t be eating them if they did not taste good. Both freeze‐dried and dehydrated fruits taste great. But most people and freeze dried fruits suppliers would say the former taste better. 

As mentioned above, the freeze drying process involves very little heat and low pressure. This retains the flavor and original texture and secures the natural aromas. So in general, freeze dried fruit tend to have a more natural taste and flavor compared to dried fruits.

Freeze drying vs dehydrating weight and convenience 

Freeze‐dried food is the top choice if weight is a critical factor. Dehydrated and freeze‐dried fruits are great to take on camping trips, hikes, and even travel. However, dehydrated fruit is much heavier with a higher moisture content than freeze-dried fruit. On the other hand, if you keep your dried fruits in your pantry or with your emergency food storage until used, weight isn’t an issue.

Freeze drying vs dehydrating rehydration – Yes or No

Both freeze dried fruit vs dehydrated fruit can be used as snacks without rehydration. The former has a crispy texture, and the latter is chewy. 

Freeze dried fruits rehydrate very quickly. All you need to do is add water, wait a few minutes, and the fruits reconstitute back to their fresh state. Once rehydrated, the freeze dried fruit tastes much closer to the original than dehydrated fruit. 

In contrast, both water and cooking is sometimes required when if you want to rehydrate a dehydrated fruit. Instead of letting your fruit soak for a few minutes, it needs to be cooked. In most cases, it needs to be boiled to rehydrate enough to taste like the fruit it used to be. Rehydration can take 20 minutes and sometimes more, depending on the fruit.

Rehydration time can be a huge issue if you’re in a hurry or don’t have cooking equipment handy.

Freeze drying vs dehydrating cost 

Dehydrated foods are much cheaper than freeze-dried foods. Freeze dried fruits are almost five times more expensive than their dehydrated counterparts. For example, you can easily buy dehydrated strawberries from the store for $0.60 per ounce. Freeze-dried strawberries in similar packaging cost at least $3 per ounce.

There are advantages and disadvantages associated with freeze dried fruit vs dehydrated fruit. It all depends on what you’re looking for, how you intend to use it, and how much you want to invest in its purchase. Below we have identified some of them.


Conclusion

Freeze dried fruits are closer to fresh fruits in terms of nutrients, shape, and flavor. They take longer time to produce, but less time to rehydrate. Dried fruits may lose half of their nutrient content and taste due to heat treatment. And they take a longer time to rehydrate. Sometimes you have to cook them to rehydrate.
However, freeze dried fruit and dehydrated fruit are both healthy and tasty snacks.
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