Dehydrated vs. freeze-dried ingredients

The starting point for any DIY dehydrated backpacking meal is a selection of dehydrated or freeze-dried ingredients. Both of these methods remove the water weight from your food supply, helping ensure the lightest weight in your pack, and transforming perishable ingredients into a long-lasting food supply. But what is the difference between dehydrated vs freeze-dried ingredients, and how does it affect your meal plan? Read on to find out!

Cooking Time

The cooking time varies significantly for dehydrated vs. freeze-dried ingredients. Freeze-dried ingredients are actually much easier to rehydrate than dehydrated ingredients.

While the method is generally the same (just add boiling water), the time to cook varies between the two. If you’re planning to combine freeze-dried and dehydrated ingredients, keep in mind that freeze-dried ingredients will rehydrate pretty quickly, taking an average of 5 minutes or less.

On the other hand, dehydrated ingredients can take closer to 10-20 minutes to fully rehydrate. 

Shelf Life

The shelf life of dehydrated vs. freeze-dried ingredients may also be a concern, especially if you plan to keep the meals as part of a survival pack in your home. If you intend to consume the food within a couple of months, dehydration should be sufficient. However, if you’re thinking much longer term, you will want to go with freeze-drying. With the right storage conditions, freeze-dried ingredients have a shelf life of up to 20 years!

Nutritional Value

The other tradeoff between dehydrated backpacking meals vs. freeze-dried food is the nutritional value. Freeze-dried ingredients retain more of the nutrition compared to DIY dehydrating. Luckily, there are plenty of options for freeze-dried food from Trader Joe’s, Amazon, and even Costco.

Cost of Dehydrated vs. Freeze-Dried Ingredients

While freeze-dried ingredients seem to have a clear advantage in the above categories, there is one area where dehydrated ingredients take the cake: cost. In the stores, dehydrated ingredients are significantly less expensive than freeze-dried ingredients. To save even more money, you could even buy your own dehydrator to DIY. 

Still, if you’re set on buying freeze-dried ingredients, you can save costs by buying in bulk. Amazon has a variety of freeze-dried meat, vegetables, and fruits in bulk.

So which is better? Freeze-Dried or Dehydrated Ingredients?

DIY Backpacking Meals

DIY Backpacking Meals

As you can see, if you have the budget, freeze-dried meals are superior to dehydrated meals in terms of nutritional value, shelf life, and time needed to rehydrate (which translates into fuel and water costs). You can read more about the differences between freeze-dried and dehydrated ingredients here

Now that you’ve earned the difference between freeze-dried and dehydrated ingredients, maybe you’re ready to start assembling your own DIY Backpacking meals or cold-soak meals for your next trip. Enjoy!

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