What do you do when your favorite fruit is out of season?
Take a vitamin to get the same nutrients? Let’s agree—vitamins don’t taste nearly as good as freshly picked blueberries or grapes.
That’s why we’re so excited to introduce another nutritious and tasty option that doesn’t get much press: freeze-dried fruit.
Fruit nutrients: advantages of freeze-dried
How is the freeze-drying method different from air-drying or dehydrating fruit?
Air dried strawbwrry
Dried fruit is either sun-dried or machine-dried. Approximately 80-90% of the water is removed, and the fruit becomes chewy as it shrinks. Some loss of nutrients, flavor or color may occur. Some dried fruits, like raisins, are packaged with no added ingredients. But depending on the food manufacturer, some will add an unnatural form of sugar, preservatives, dyes or an oil to make the dried fruit more appealing in taste or texture. As always, we recommend that consumers always read ingredient labels to make sure you know what you’re buying. You might be surprised what added sugar can do to the nutritional value of dried fruit.
Dehydrated fruit is heated carefully to remove the moisture, but not cook the food. It’s usually withered and pliable, and about the same texture as dried fruit. Dehydrating does result in a loss of some nutrients and color or flavor. Again, check your labels for unnatural additives like oils, preservatives, sugar or dyes.
Freeze dried strawberry
Freeze-drying locks in the nutritional composition (Yes, please keep the nutritional value!) and structure of the fruit by first freezing it, then drying it in a commercial vacuum process. The interior water is quickly taken to the vapor state and is pulled off the fruit. Approximately 96-98% of the water is removed from the fruit while maintaining its shape, color and flavor. The result is a nutrient-dense, amazingly crunchy version of your favorite fruit—without added sugars and oils.
If you’re curious to learn even more, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council offers a detailed chart of the differences in each of the drying methods. It includes helpful information about common processing methods, moisture levels and shelf life.