Commercial Freeze-Dried Food

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This topic contains 11 replies, has 7 voices, and was last updated by  Crow Bar 1 week, 3 days ago.

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  • #20939

    Old School
    Participant

    I ran across a small stockpile of commercial freeze dried for I had squirreled away long ago. The brands are Backpackers Pantry, and Mountain House, and the “best by” dates are around 10 years old. The stuff was expensive, and the cost was a real sacrifice back then. My question is essentially the old “how long is commercially freeze-dried food good for”. I did a good job of storing them, always in a cool, dark, dry place in an airtight container, and I opened a couple of packs and everything looked perfect, just like new. Should I toss it all?

  • #20942

    Crow Bar
    Keymaster

    That is a good question.

    I would tell you to email the company but I think we all know their answer will be the default legaleese to protect themselves.

    Know what, I think I have some Mountain House somewheres that I am sure is past due date.
    Let me look around, locate it, and I will try to cook one or two up and report my findings. (i.e. if they smell obviously bad, I am NOT going to try a bite)

  • #20945

    namelus
    Participant

    I have eaten 10 year expired freeze dried…. it was ok worst than usual bland. Would go by it calories with near zero nutritional value. If it smells funny toss it… have had military cheese that was grey it was so old, was hard as concrete but I did not get sick.  We used a solo stove some water  and heat to make it swallow able cheese rubber.

  • #20953

    Tolik
    Participant

    I like the MCW’s or LRRPs myself .

  • #21320

    Old School
    Participant

    Well, to answer my own question… “They” have this thing called the internet, and most businesses are hooked up to it, and even have something called a “web site”. I went to Mountain Houses “web site”, and found this answer:
    <div>
    <h4>What is the shelf life of your foods?</h4>
    Our meals in our Adventure Meal™ pouches, kits and cans all have a freeze-dried, emergency food industry-leading guaranteed shelf life and Taste Guarantee of 30 years from the date of manufacture. The only exceptions are our MCWs, novelty items, and Simple Sensations. MCWs have a 3-year shelf life from date of manufacture, novelty items like our ice cream have a 2-year shelf life, and Simple Sensations have a 30-month shelf life.

    </div>
    <div>
    <h4>What happens after the shelf life has passed?</h4>
    The food doesn’t “go bad” after the shelf life, but the quality will start to diminish. You may notice a slight change in flavor or texture, but we’ve eaten food from both our Adventure Meal™ pouches and Just in Case…® cans that were over 30 years old and were still tasty!

    ‘Tis a good thing I didn’t just toss ’em.

    </div>

  • #21401

    Littlesister
    Participant

    We also have a great deal of that type of food. They said they last from 25 to 30 years. I have used some of them, but don’t want to go into them at this time.  They are now about 7 years old.

  • #21402

    Old School
    Participant

    Mine are 10+ years old. I’ve tasted them a few times over the years and never found anything objectionable.

  • #24437

    mo homestead
    Participant

    I have always read that if stored in a cool, dry place off the concrete floor they should last 20plus years. Few exceptions, like dairy products who’s shelf-life is less.

  • #24442

    namelus
    Participant

    Lol old school only thing objectionable is it tastes like an mre.  The French one so far have been the best trying to.get some.chinese astronaught food freeze dried dim sum and adventure.

     

  • #24529

    DB
    Participant

    Well this is right up my alley. This is for freeze dried (FD) only, not dehydrated, air dried or variations on that kind of processing. I would say most people get the two easily confused. of course less so in the prepper world.

    The key is airtight storage and the less O2/more vacuum in the storage container the better, but airtight rules the day for FD.

    If the FD package contains lots of air AND is exposed to regular temperature swings of 40 degrees F or more, there will be condensation issues. That condensation WILL degrade the nutritional value or the FD food within short order, weeks or a few months. Water, even “recycled water” in this case, is the enemy of the nutrition in FD food. Water itself doesn’t degrade anything but is the medium by which most of it can occur.

    You can run a simple experiment. Take a handful of nice, dry and crispy FD fruit or veggies, put them in a normal quart ziploc bag, close it and put the bag in your fridge for a couple+ hours. Take the bag from the fridge and put it in a warmer, 80 F+ and/or higher humidity location for a few hours. Now the FD food should have a feel a little spongy like a marshmallow. Open the bag and taste a little of the product. When done, close the bag and put back in the fridge overnight or so, then do another taste test. The difference in taste and texture should be marked. The cool, crisp, most fresh, from the fridge should have a lot of flavor and still be crisp enough to “snap” when broken. The spongy, somewhat moist will  have noticeably less flavor and a chewier texture.

    Another simple test. Crush up about 4 ounces of FD fruit of your choice to as much of a powder as you can in a gallon sized ziploc. Okay now make some whipped cream topping with 4 ounces of real whipping cream, but instead of sugar, add 1 ounce of your FD fruit then whip it and whip it good…wait 0-15 mins. Now taste, the whipped cream should be very flavorful sweet and have an obvious fruity taste of the FD used. If not add another ounce of FD and a maybe a bit more cream to keep it from turning to butter, taste again. It should taste as described before, if not, repeat until all 4 ounces of the FD are used up. Now this is a bit subjective, I’ll admit I have  a sweet tooth, but you get the idea.

    If you run these tests on your stock and there is little difference between the two taste tests of FD in the ziploc or If you’ve got no pronounced sweetness/flavor of the FD fruit used in the whipped cream, unfortunately the FD is probably depleted of nutrients, your FD stock may look good but has lost it’s nutritional value. Properly FD food retains ~97% of it’s nutrition, is crispy dry when done and without great science behind me, I’d say the more bland the taste = the less nutritional value, just like any fresh food.

    Now for the Caveats; The quality of the food that goes in to the freeze drier…comes out of the freeze drier. Not to hard to figure out, garbage in, garbage out. A lot of big operations get the cheapest and source the most reliable food the can get away with. Yah, like those store bought cardboard tomatoes that we don’t even bother buying for years now, they’ll use them no problem. Some operations now pulverize the food and then use a stamp to make it look like a slice of apple, pear or whatever. (I’ve even seen “slices” of mango that look like apple slices) These are very obvious in the finished product. They do that to maximize efficiency and hide/mask the visible imperfections and rotten bits not caught by the processor, human or machine. And of course all the myriad of other factors for pre-freeze drying storage….how fresh was it, how ripe, was it frozen before or after processing or both, how long was it frozen? The best way to process FD food is to get it as fresh and ripe as possible, process it as little as possible and get it into the freeze drier as soon as possible. Very few large operations do that. Any time the food spends exposed to water/ice or even it’s own juices before processing, it’s breaking down valuable nutrients.

    To give an example that a lot of you probably know, we can keep pears in our cool room for months, take them out to be processed and they’re still hard to cut, maybe they sit on the kitchen table for 24-48 hours, then you’re cutting half of it away because it’s now over ripe. Happens all the time.

    Rules for buying good FD food;

    The FD food should look like its fresh counterpart without the water. If it looks shriveled, powdered, significantly shrunken or colorless it’s highly suspect from a nutritional perspective.

    Vacuum packed/sealed and airtight is king. Mylar or bucket with O2 absorbers and airtight is second. Everything else, a distant third.

    Store as cool, dark, temp controlled as possible, Ideally 40-50 F. But even much warmer is possible as long as there are minimal or no temperature swings.

    Outside of some pretty good sale price or extreme bulk discounts, good quality commercial FD food is not cheap. Expect to pay ~$4/oz and up generally speaking.  Maybe as low as $3/oz if you can find a good supplier somewhere. And the price of FD food, along with everything else is only getting higher. And still there’s lots of suppliers out there charging premium $ for shit or fancy packaging.

    If it doesn’t come from the US, Canada or the western part of the EU, I’d be automatically suspect of quality. And sometimes it can be very difficult to know where its true origins are.

    With the price of FD food vs expectations, it’s worth doing some due diligence and getting what you pay for. Because of that, it could be worth spending all that hard earned money on alternatives. You could be very well buying FD food that isn’t much better than dehydrated/canned, even if it will keep for 30 years…at 40% nutritional value, not much better than canned and a lot more expensive.

     

  • #24531

    Littlesister
    Participant

    I HAVE A KEY BOARD ISSUE. SO ALL IS IN CAPS. THOUGH THE CAPS ARE OFF.

    I HAVE BOTH FD AND DEYDRATED FOODS. BOTH MOUNTAIN HOUSE AND AUGUSON FARMS.  BUT THE ONLY PROBLEM IS THEY ALL CONTAIN SALT IN THE ONES THAT ARE MEALS.  WITH DH ON A LOW SALT RESTRICTION, I CANNOT USE THESE NOW OR AT LEAST FOR HIM. I AM THINKING ABOUT TRIVE FOODS. FOR THE VEGGIES, MEAT AND FRUITS ALONE AND NOT ANY OF THE MEALS SUCH AS SPEGGETTI, BEEF STEW AND THOSE TYPES.  HAS ANYONE TRIED THE THRIVE FOODS?

    AND IF ANYONE KNOWS HOW TO UNSTICK A CAPS LOCK, I WOULD LOVE TO KNOW.  IT IS OFF. BUT AS YOU CAN SEE IT DOESN’T THINK SO. GOTTA LOVE COMPUTERS.

    • #24538

      Crow Bar
      Keymaster

      Little Sis,
      There is a electronics/computer cleaner that might help. It comes in a aerosol can. You spray it into the area you want to clean, and after a few moments it evaporates.
      Yeah, I am in the market for a new keyboard myself.
      This one, the “Home row” indicators have worn completely off, the return springs are failing, and some keys are as responsive.
      But, it is 9 years old.

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