Stockpiling Freeze Dried Food
Kevin Felts 11.24.16
Unlike over the counter canned foods, freeze dried foods, when stored properly, can have a shelf life of 25+ years. You read that right! When stored below 75 degrees but above freezing, freeze dried food can have a shelf live of at least a quarter of a century.
#10 cans have a shelf life of at least 25 years when stored properly.
Pouches of freeze dried food have a shelf life of around 7 years when stored properly.
Related article – What is the best value freeze dried food.
What is Freeze Dried Food?
The process of freeze drying has been around for a long time. It was developed in 1906 by Arsène d’Arsonval in Paris, France.
Rather than going into all the details of freeze drying food, here are the basics:
The food is prepared. Meaning, the meals are cooked, add seasoning, etc. The food is then put in a special chamber where the food is flash frozen and then exposed to a vacuum. Exposure to a vacuum causes any moisture in the food to turn into vapor, and then the food is sealed so it can not absorb moisture.
Think of freeze drying as industrial grade dehydration. Instead of using low humidity and heat to dehydrate, a special chamber and freezing temperatures are used.
The end result is a product that can be stored in cans for at least 25 years and in pouches for 7 years.
Let’s use one of my personal cans of beef stew as an example. It measures 6 1/4 inches wide and 7 inches tall. Weighs 1 pound 11.3 ounces, that is what my scales say anyway, while the label says net weight 17.2 oz. The can has an estimated ten servings, with each serving measuring 1 cup.
If you want variety, that is no problem because there are a great number of choices.
- Chicken a la king and noodles
- Chicken teriyaki with rice
- Chili Mac with beef
- Beef stew
- Macaroni & cheese
- Rice and chicken
- Scrambled Eggs with Ham
- Strawberry slices,
My personal stockpile includes a variety of meats, fruits, and vegetables. If I have to go into my stockpile of #10 cans, the plan is to have a protein and a side dish of a fruit or vegetable with every meal.
7 Year Pouches
Looking for a freeze dried solution that is more portable than a #10 can? Something that you can take hiking, camping, or keep in a bug out bag? No problem. That solution is the 7 year pouch.
There are two choices:
The pro-pak, which is freeze dried and then vacuum sealed, comes in one and two servings. Each serving is about 1 cup.
The standard pouch, which is not vacuum sealed, has air inside of it which makes it larger than the pro-pak.
7 year pouches are available in a wide variety of options.
- Chicken stew
- Garden green peas
- Granola with milk and blueberries
- Lasagna with meat sauce
- Macaroni & cheese
- Noodles & chicken
- Pasta Primavera
- Scrambled eggs with bacon
Rather than buying individual pouches, there are a number of pre-packaged kits available.
- 7 day box – has enough pouches to feed a single person for 7 days.
- 29 serving bucket.
- 32 serving bucket.
- 64 serving bucket.
- Breakfast bucket – 29 servings of just breakfast meals.
The list goes on, and on, and on. Pouches can be found in any number of combinations, price points, vegetarian, meat lovers, boxes, buckets, just about anything you can think of.
#10 cans have an estimated life span of at least 25 years when stored properly.
7 year pouches have an estimated life span of at least 7 years when stored properly.
So, what exactly is stored properly? It means keeping the cans and pouches in climate controlled conditions. Do not keep them in a shed where it gets 110 degrees in the summer and 20 degrees in the winter.
Extreme heat and temperature fluctuations can greatly reduce life expectancy of any stored food.
Traditionally, freeze dried meats have high sodium content. I suspect the sodium content is to help preserve animal products. Anything that contains fats or meat will break down faster than, say, beans and rice.
The following examples of sodium content are taken directly from my personal stockpile of freeze dried food and are listed as per serving.
- Chicken stew – 940 mg.
- Chicken teriyaki with rice – 690 mg.
- Beef stew – 850 mg.
- Lasagna with meat sauce – 630 mg.
- Scrambled eggs with bacon – 710 mg.
- Spaghetti with meat sauce – 760 mg.
Breakfast of scrambled eggs with bacon, lunch of chicken stew, and dinner of spaghetti with meat sauce, you have consumed 2,410 mg of sodium in a single day.
For a young healthy adult 2,410 mg may not be an issue. If someone has high blood pressure, heart disease, or over 51 years old, the recommended daily intake drops to 1,500 mg.
For individuals on a reduced sodium diet, I suggest reducing freeze dried meat intake and increase fruit and vegetable portion size. Freeze dried fruits and vegetables have little to no sodium in them.
From some of my personal Provident Pantry #10 cans: freeze dried broccoli, 20 mg sodium per serving, freeze dried strawberries, 0 mg of sodium per serving.
Preparing Freeze Dried Food
To prepare freeze dried food, simply add warm, hot, or boiling water. No special pots, no special devices. All you need is something to heat water in.
Instructions are listed on the back of number #10 cans and 7 year pouches detailing how much water to add, portion size, and whether the water should be warm, hot, or boiling. Here are some examples from my personal stockpile.
Strawberries #10 can – Mix 2/3 cup strawberry slices with 1 1/3 cups warm water. Let sit for 5 minutes then drain excess water.
Broccoli #10 can – Mix 1/2 cup broccoli to 1 cup warm/hot water. Let sit for 5 minutes or until tinder. Drain excess water.
Chili mac with beef #10 can – Bring 3/4 cup water to boil, remove from heat, add one cup dry mix, stir throughly, cover, let sit for 5 – 10 minutes. I usually let it sit for around 15 minutes before eating.
Chicken stew 7 year pouch – Open pouch, remove oxygen absorber, add 16 ounces boiling water, stir throughly, close zipper, let sit for 10 – 15 minutes.
Lasagna with meat sauce 7 year pouch – Open pouch, remove oxygen absorber, add 16 ounces boiling water, stir throughly, close zipper, let sit for 10 – 15 minutes.
Just read the directions on the back. Easier than pie.
Freeze dried foods are a perfect solution for long term food storage and a lightweight option for hiking or camping.
25+ years for cans and 7 years for a pouch, that is hard to beat. Then all you have to do is add warm, hot, or boiling water? It does not get much better than that.
Before stockpiling #10 cans, pick up a couple of pouches and try out various flavors.
My personal favorites are chili mac and scrambled eggs with bacon. Try them out, then come back and post in the comments section what you thought about them.
Mountain house has updated the life span of the 7 year pouches to 30 years. Since there are a lot of pouches on the market are labeled as 7 years, I am keeping the wording of the article as 7 year pouches.