Apples to zucchini – it’s no exaggeration.
The freeze-drying process offers the flexibility to remove moisture content and preserve almost any fruit or vegetable. Take a look at our products, and you can see the variety – everything from apples to zucchini.
But apart from sheer variety, the major advantage of freeze-drying lies in the ability to produce clean, whole and nutritious food ingredients with a highly prolonged shelf life, making food products versatile, accessible and convenient.
The freeze-drying process
Freeze-drying, or lyophilization, removes moisture from raw, frozen product through a vacuum system and process called sublimation.
Frozen raw product is cut down to the desired piece size and spread evenly onto trays that are stacked and stored in freezers. 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 are then loaded into a refrigerated freeze-drying chamber that seals tightly shut. The chamber’s vacuum system removes ice from the product and converts it directly to a vapor without moving through the liquid state, in a process called sublimation. Since the water is removed from the product in a frozen state, cell structure remains intact and finished product bears close resemblance to its fresh counterpart, thus retaining its piece identity.
Advantages of freeze-drying
Add freeze-dried ingredients to your next application and gain value from these specific benefits.
1. Whole food nutrition
Shifting consumer values have led more people to seek nutrition from real, high-quality food sources with understandable labels. Because they are minimally processed, freeze-dried foods can be clean ingredients, free from synthetic, artificial, and highly processed materials.
Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are also real fruits and vegetables, giving brands the ability to make claims based on nutritional value. Van Drunen Farms’ TruServ™ program provides an exclusive method of substantiation that connects our production data and the USDA nutrient database to only our fruit, vegetable and leafy green ingredients.
Consumers’ desire for nutrition from real and understandable sources drives the appeal of verified, whole food serving claims from freeze-dried fruits and vegetables. Reach on-the-go millennial consumers with whole food servings in convenient delivery forms like bars or bites.
2. Closest to the fresh form
Freeze-drying retains nutritional value better than other drying methods, further supporting consumers’ desire for nutrition from whole foods. The process also preserves the actual color and shape of the original raw material, reassuring consumers they are actually getting real fruits and vegetables in their diets. The intense flavor and aroma of freeze-dried ingredients also closely resembles the profile of the raw material.
Another advantage of freeze-drying is the ability to customize to unique needs and project goals. Freeze-dried ingredients can be cut or ground into many different sizes and shapes – everything from whole fruits and vegetables down to fine powders. Finished product can be easily mixed into any blend or formulation for a flavor profile completely unique to your final product.
4. Application variety
Customization and blending capabilities give food processors the ability to incorporate real fruits and vegetables into a large variety of applications. Growing categories of freeze-dried applications include breakfast applications like hot and cold cereals, retail-ready or ready-to-eat snacks, and beverage applications like smoothies or whole fruit pieces added to beverages.
5. Prolonged shelf life
The shelf life of any given product directly links to the moisture content of that product. Removing water through the freeze-drying process removes potential for bacterial growth. Moisture content varies from product to product, but an average for freeze-dried products is around 3% moisture. Actual length of shelf life for any given freeze-dried product depends on packaging, storage temperature and the product itself.
Get in touch with us today to learn how you can incorporate freeze-dried fruits and vegetables into your next product.