Before I found Thrive Life foods, I can’t say I understood the difference between dehydrated foods and freeze-dried foods. I just considered them both “dried foods,” and thought they were mostly for snacking, storing, or throwing into a trail mix.
One of my favorite ways to explain the difference visually to people is to show them a raisin and a freeze-dried grape:
We all know that a raisin is a dehydrated grape; it shrivels, concentrates the flavors, and is a completely different texture from a grape. The Thrive Life freeze-dried grape, on the other hand, still looks like a grape, holds the shape of a grape (well, sliced grapes), and when refreshed, has a very similar texture to a “fresh” grape.
Here are some more examples:
On the left are some dehydrated apples from a stored #10 can. They are slightly gummy and yet somewhat crunchy; they taste fine, but definitely do not reconstitute to be like fresh apples. On the right are Thrive Life freeze-dried Fuji apples; they are crisp, sweet, and delicious, and could be tossed into an apple pie or cobbler and without anyone knowing.
And one last example. Recently, I bought a strawberry spinach salad kit from the store. Those dried berries are on the left, and Thrive Life freeze-dried strawberries are on the right:
If that doesn’t show you that there can be a real difference between dehydrated foods and freeze-dried foods, I don’t know what will.
Other than the visual and textural differences, the main difference between dehydration and freeze-drying is the amount of heat used in each process. To dehydrate a food, you lay it out in the sun or on a dehydrating tray, and expose it to a slow, steady heat. This does, indeed, help preserve the food, but also begins to break down nutrients and change the texture almost immediately.
With freeze-drying, the food is frozen and then exposed to a vacuum chamber, where the water is “zapped” out through a process called sublimation. It’s actually really cool science, where the water goes straight from liquid to gas without passing through a solid state.
In short, dehydrating and freeze-drying are both methods used to preserve foods. Freeze-drying has additional benefits of better preserving the texture and nutrition of foods, and well as offering longer shelf-life at room temperature.
I can not vouch for the quality of freeze-dried foods in general, but I can vouch for the high quality, non-GMO foods at Thrive Life, which make their freeze-dried foods fresher than fresh. These freeze-dried groceries are fun to cook with, last for up to 25 years unopened, and are preservative-free.