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Homemade Freeze Dried Snacks


How can you freeze dry fruit or vegetables for snacks without buying still another gadget?

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By 11/21/2011

It's not possible because proper freeze drying needs the right equipment to accomplish. Food is first quickly frozen, then almost all the moisture is removed in a vacuum chamber.

Here's an article of explanation:

A typical machine consists of a freeze-drying chamber with several shelves attached to heating units, a freezing coil connected to a refrigerator compressor, and a vacuum pump.

With most machines, you place the material to be preserved onto the shelves when it is still unfrozen. When you seal the chamber and begin the process, the machine runs the compressors to lower the temperature in the chamber. The material is frozen solid, which separates the water from everything around it, on a molecular level, even though the water is still present.

Next, the machine turns on the vacuum pump to force air out of the chamber, lowering the atmospheric pressure below .06 ATM. The heating units apply a small amount of heat to the shelves, causing the ice to change phase. Since the pressure is so low, the ice turns directly into water vapor. The water vapor flows out of the freeze-drying chamber, past the freezing coil. The water vapor condenses onto the freezing coil in solid ice form, in the same way water condenses as frost on a cold day.

This continues for many hours (even days) while the material gradually dries out. The process takes so long because overheating the material can significantly change the composition and structure. Additionally, accelerating the sublimation process could produce more water vapor in a period of time then the pumping system can remove from the chamber. This could rehydrate the material somewhat, degrading its quality.

Once the material is dried sufficiently, it's sealed in a moisture-free package, often with an oxygen-absorbing material.

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