How To Reduce Plastic Use In The Home – No More Throw Away Bags

How-To-Reduce-Plastic-Waste-In-The-Home - green beans in plastic bag

Image by ToddTrumble from Pixabay

How To Reduce Plastic Use In The Home

Can silicone replace plastic in the home, especially the kitchen? Many people want to know how to reduce plastic use in the home.

 

What about all those plastic food storage bags that we use for everything, right?

 

And why?

  • They take up less room than tubs in the fridge or freezer
  • They are all too handy for taking lunch to work in, and then just throw away
  • Same for hiking, picnicking,  – light to carry, and throw away
  • Great for traveling light, separating small garments and items in a carry-on bag

 

Have you ever noticed how many you use in a week?

 

CLICK to Amazon –  reusable silicone food storage bags!

 

What Is Silicone?

 

“A silicone or polysiloxane are polymers made up of siloxane (−R2Si−O−SiR2−, where R = organic group). They are typically colorless, oils or rubber-like substances. Silicones are used in sealants, adhesives, lubricants, medicine, cooking utensils, and thermal and electrical insulation. ” – wikipedia

 

Traditionally, silicone has been used for a variety of kitchen products.

 

Silicone has become a common product in kitchenware, particularly for baking and everyday kitchen utensils.

 

It is an insulator in protective oven gloves and potholders. Silicone oven mitts are effective with temperatures up to 260 °C (500 °F), making it possible to reach into boiling water.

 

Silicone makes excellent molds for cooking chocolate, making ice, plus cookies, muffins, and many other foods.

 

It is a non-stick liner for baking pans and reusable mats used on baking sheets.

 

You’ll see it commonly used in other items like vegetable steamers, egg boilers or poachers, cookware lids, trivets, and kitchen mats.

 

Now we can get silicone food storage bags in various sizes, that seal well.

 

This is the way we can reduce and maybe eliminate plastic use in the home.

 

Best Online Shopping Guide is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking (AL= Ad Link) to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

Zero Waste Kit | 21 pcs Premium Set for an Eco-Friendly Lifestyle | 6 pcs Silicone Stretch Lids, 6 pcs Reusable Food Storage Bags, 6 pcs Mesh Grocery Bags, 3 pcs Beeswax Wraps in Various Sizes


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Wow! Save hundreds of dollars that you will spend on plastic bags, plastic wrap, plastic tubs, and more!

 

Reuse hundreds of times!

 

Product arrives in a compostable carton! (You DO compost, don’t you?)

 

The mesh grocery bags are made from cotton. They are easily washed.

 

Stasher 100% Silicone Food Grade Reusable Storage Bag, Aqua (4-Piece Bundle Set) | Plastic Free Lunch Bag | Cook, Store, Sous Vide, or Freeze | Leakproof, Dishwasher-Safe, Eco-friendly, Non-Toxic


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This product is made from 100% platinum food-grade silicone. The items are safely used in the freezer, microwave, dishwasher, boiling water, and oven up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

 

The bags seal well and will not leak.

 

If you take a sandwich to work you can microwave it and have a warm meal.

 

Choose from thirteen colors!

 

This package consists of:

  • 1 of half-gallon size 10. 25” x 8. 25” x 1. 5” (64. 2oz)
  • 2 of sandwich size 7. 5” x 7. 5” x 1” (15oz)
  • 1 of snack size 4. 5” x 7. 5” x 1” (9. 9oz)

 

Stasher Reusable Silicone Food Bag, Sandwich Bag, Snack Bag and 1/2 Gallon Bag, Sous Vide Bag, Storage Bag (Clear, 3 Pack)


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Stasher bags contain no petroleum, no PVC, and no latex. These bags can go into the top dishwasher rack, or be hand washed with warm soapy water.

 

Reusable Food Bags,Silicone Food Bags Set,Multi-Purpose High Temperature Resistance Food Storage Bags Fruits Vegetables Meat Storage Bags Food Freezer Bags Can Be Used In Microwave Dishwashers (4Pack)


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These bags can be safely used in microwave ovens, refrigerators, toasters, steamers, boiling water and freezer.

 These are so handy for preserving cakes, breads, jellies, ready-to-eat foods, chocolates, sandwiches, and meats. They will not leak the juices from your foods.

 

These are perfect for carrying fruit or lunch to school or work.

 

This is a great as a way to save money and stop polluting the environment.

 

 

Reusable Silicone Food Storage 4/5 Gallon Heavy Duty Ziplock Dishwasher Safe Bag (2 x 101 Oz) Stand-Up Flat Bottom Microwave Freezer Bags For raw meats, marinates


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Yes, this bag will stand up on its flat bottom. This makes it very easy to use for marinades.

 

It will come inside out, easily, for thorough cleaning.

 

No more freezer burn – they seal well.

 

The vendor states: “Our silicone bags are manufactured in China within an FDA registered and approved facility/factory and also ISO9001 audited. Our product itself is FDA,BPA-Free certified and all of them are fully inspected pre-sale.”

5 more top-rated silicone kitchen products.

Sponge cake type SLC1 Yaki Tomica silicon (japan import)


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how to reduce plastic use in the home - sponge cake

 

The vendor states:

“The SKATER Co., Ltd. has been granted product commercialization licenses by character licensors such as Sanrio, Takara Tomy and Disney, and produces and distributes lunch boxes and water bottles for children.”

Winco Silicone Baking Mat, 15-3/8 by 21-1/2-Inch, Set of 10


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This baking mat is hand wash only. Wash when hot and it will easily come clean.

 

This mat fits large 2/3 commercial pans.Great for making toffee and other extremely sticky foods.

 

 

 

Ohequbao Non-Stick Silicone Baking, Pyramid Healthy Cooking Oven Mat, Red,Black


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  • Made of food grade silicone
  • Odorless, nontoxic, BPA free and safe for the whole family to use.
  • Non stick – use it in freezer, oven and microwave up to 428F
  • Reduced fat cooking:Baking mat with specially designed 500 silicone pyramids – air circulates evenly from top to bottom and around the food, drips away fat and grease so, no flipping and turning required, leaving you with a delicious healthy meal.
  • Easy Storage: This 15. 1 x 10. 6 inch Silicone Baking Mat can be easily cut to size
  • Foldable for easy storage
  • Trim to fit the size of your oven.
  • Clean in the dishwasher or can be washed by hand with soap and water 

 

Enjoy the benefits of healthier cooking — Your food will be more crisp, and juicy.

 

Plce your food on this raised cone shaped pan while baking. The fat and oil drips away from the food, and it won’t stick to the baking tray.

 

This silicone bake mat that will not melt, tear or wear off due to normal use. 

 

 

Silicone Baking Molds, Pans and Utensils (Set of 13) by Boxiki Kitchen | Silicone Cake Pan, Brownie Pan, Loaf Pan, Muffin Mold, 2 Spatulas, Brush and 6 Measuring Spoons


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180 RECIPES INCLUDED – get 3 Free eBooks with your purchase. The best 65 cake recipes, 50 cupcake recipes, 65 loaf/bread recipes that are delicious, simple and healthy.

 

Silpat ADN800585-00 Roul’ Pat Perfect Pastry Jumbo Size Non-Stick Silicone Countertop Workstation Mat, 23″ x 31.5″


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  • Non-stick surface allows for easy food release, making clean up fast
  • Made with a backing which prevents it from slipping or moving around while you’re at work
  • Perfect for rolling and kneading dough or working with sugar art, chocolate, fondant, caramel and candy
  • Can also be used a work surface mat for craft projects involving glue, permanent markers, and other messy projects
  • Generous sized mat measures 23″ x 31.5″
  •  NOT to be used as a baking mat – not an oven safe product
  • Durable and reusable for thousand times – just rinse with soapy hot water after use and lay flat or hang to dry
  • Lay flat or roll to store

 

 

The following is a contributed article about plastics, and why it is imperative that we reduce our use of plastics as much as possible.

Reducing Plastic Use at Home by Dan G. Carter

Most of the products we buy are either made of plastic or come encased in plastic for protection or transport. Add to the fact that most of us use plastic bags from our local stores, plastic pop bottles, or in some cases plastic furniture and you can see how plastic is everywhere. Unfortunately however plastic is not very recyclable and while certain things like pop bottles and bags can be reprocessed furniture cannot.

Certain plastics also contain harmful components that when exposed to in low quantities do not cause a problem but over time can cause health issues. One thing to remember is that plastics from all categories are not biodegradable and take centuries to break down. This means that the less plastic you use in your home the better off the environment will be both in the short and long terms. But how do you go about reducing your plastic consumption?

First you can recycle what plastics that you can. Bags and bottles are the most common form of plastic waste but also the easiest to recycle. Many recycling centers will take them and some major grocery stores have collection bins. If recycling isn’t an option then you need to limit your use as much as possible. Many stores offer fabric bags as an alternative to paper or plastic. These are a bit more expensive but they can be reused repeatedly.

Some of them can even be washed if they become stained making them a very long term investment. You can reduce your use of pop bottles via one of two methods. Either buy a larger bottle instead of multiple smaller ones, or buy canned pop. Cans are made out of aluminum which is one of the easier metals to recycle making them a viable alternative.

As for products however reducing your plastic use can be a bit difficult. Consumers have no control over what a company chooses to wrap their product in but for certain items you can find alternatives. Not all products come wrapped in plastic and some may come in a good old fashioned cardboard box, which can be recycled or reused after you’re through unpacking. That is provided you don’t have to destroy the box just to get to the product.

Plastic use in the home is not just limited to products however. There are many components of our home and appliances that are made out of plastic. It can be hard or impossible to do without these and there are few alternatives. However if you have the money to invest there are a few ways to reduce your plastic usage in this category as well.

You can buy utensils and kitchen appliances that are made out of metal instead of plastic. Alternatively you can use wooden cooking bowels or wooden silverware. Believe it or not you can still find high quality wooden silverware that is often hand carved. It’s bit expensive but 100% natural and non toxic.

Reducing your plastic use is no easy task. Many of the products, utensils, and appliances in our homes are either made from or encased in plastic. But cutting corners here and recycling what you can there does make a difference in the long run. Just remember that there are always alternative products and packaging methods to look for, they just might take a little while to find.

Dan Carter writes for the Solar Power House website, specializing in solar power kits [http://www.solarpowerhouse.org].

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Note: Author’s link has expired on original publication.

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5 Best Freeze Dried Meat Packets Vegetables And Breakfast Meals

Freeze-Dried-Meat-Packets: meat packetss

Image by Daniel Albany from Pixabay

Freeze Dried Meat Packets

 

Several companies provide excellent freeze dried meat packets to boost your healthy protein preserved food storage. Along with the delicious breakfast dishes, soups, freeze dried vegetables and fruits, these well packaged menus with long 

 

Below we’ll present the 5 best I could find. Emergency food is a great investment in your peace of mind.

 

Whether you need to shelter in place, or travel out of a disaster area, you can rest assured you and your family won’t starve.

 

First, here are a few things to know about freeze dried foods.

 

Does freeze drying kill bacteria?

 

No. Freeze drying reduces but does not kill bacteria.

 

If you’re not clear on what freeze drying is:

Freeze drying, also known as lyophilisation or cryodesiccation, is a low temperature dehydration process that involves freezing the product, lowering pressure, then removing the ice by sublimation. This is in contrast to dehydration by most conventional methods that evaporate water using heat.

Freeze drying results in a high quality product because of the low temperature used in processing.The original shape of the product is maintained and quality of the rehydrated product is excellent. Primary applications of freeze drying include biological (e.g., bacteria and yeasts), biomedical (e.g., surgical transplants), food processing (e.g., coffee) and preservation.“- Wikipedia

 

This page contains affiliate marketing links. We may get paid a commission on the sale of a product or service recommended here. This does not change your price, you pay what the vendor advertises.

 

Is freeze drying better than dehydrating?

 

Freeze drying and dehydrating foods are not the same process, nor do they give the same results.

 

To compare:

Dehydrating removes 70% of the moisture, food is good for less than a year

 

Freeze drying removes 99% of the moisture and the shelf life of foods is 15 to 25 years!

 

Dehydrating leaves about 60% of the nutrition in the foods

 

Freeze drying leaves about 97% of the nutrition in the foods.

 

(Removing the moisture prevents growth of bacteria and molds.)

 

When preserving food, or choosing preserved foods to purchase, one major consideration is weight.

 

Whether your stored foods are for camping, hiking, bugging out, or using at home, minimum weight is convenient, or if you’re carrying it on your back, perhaps crucial.

 

Can you live off freeze dried food?

 

If you consider that you can freeze dry foods that you cannot dehydrate, this is indeed possible. For example you can freeze dry:

  • Eggs
  • An ice cream sandwich
  • A full plate of dinner that won’t lose its form or taste
  • Sour cream
  • Cottage cheese
  • Meats, vegetables and desserts

 

That is a wonderful variety of food to stock! This variety will provide you with a balanced diet.

 

“Once rehydrated, freeze-dried food is similar in nutritional value to fresh food according to Diane Barrett, a food science and technology prof at UC-Davis.” – Mother Jones

 

Can you rehydrate freeze dried food with cold water?

 

The recommended ways to rehydrate your freeze dried foods is with warm or hot water, or steam.

 

For instance, with a casserole, fill your dish about 1/3 with water, place the dried casserole food and then put in the oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

 

With dried cake and cookies, place into a zip lock bag with a moist towel and allow them to reabsorb the moisture over a few hours. 

 

Best Online Shopping Guide is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking (AL= Ad Link) to Amazon.com. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

 

 

Patriot Pantry 3-Month Emergency Food Supply – 864 Servings of Delicious Recipes for One Person Stores up to 25 Years in Slim-line Totes

 


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Pay over twelve months –  $108.33 per month.

 

Packaged in four slim-line rugged totes. Each measures 26 inches x 18 inches x 12 inches.

 

This is the family sized package of the item below, with all the same contents.

 

Patriot Pantry 4-Week Emergency Food Supply – 252 Servings of Tasty Recipes for One Person

 


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Except for broth, there are no meat meals in this package.

 

 

  • 252 Servings of delicious meals, drinks and snacks
  • Will last one person for four weeks
  • Your family’s favorite menus,  like Mac and Cheese, potato soup, chocolate pudding and more yummy meals and desserts
  • Three meals provide 2,000+ calories per day
  • Will keep (unopened) up to 25 years in your storage areas
  • Packed in a sturdy plastic rectangular tote for compact storing
  • Easy to re-hydrate, simply boil water and simmer for 10-15 minutes

Contents:

Long Grain White Rice (30 servings)
Buttermilk Pancakes (30 servings)
Orange Energy Drink Mix (16 servings)
Maple Grove Oatmeal (32 servings)
Homestyle Potato Soup (20 servings)
Southwest Savory Rice (24 servings)
Creamy Chicken Flavored Rice (16 servings)
Chocolate Pudding (20 servings)
Mac & Cheese (12 servings)
Strawberry Flavored Cream of Wheat (8 servings)
Banana Chips (8 servings)
Mashed Potatoes (8 servings)
Cheesy Broccoli & Rice Soup (8 servings)
Traveler’s Stew (12 servings)
Black Beans & Rice Soup (4 servings)
Fettuccine Alfredo (4 servings)

 

All cheeses are real. Each food packet has a packaging date.

 

 

Wise Company Emergency Food Supply, Freeze Dried Meat Variety, 15-Year Shelf Life, 60 Servings

 


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  • Conveniently packaged in 4 portions per sealed pouch
  • Seasoned beef and chicken
  • Square bucket that is easily stacked in storage
  • Fully cooked, ready to grab however much you need for camping and hiking (just add water)
  • BONUS – 20 packs of long white rice

 

Wise Company Long Term Emergency Freeze-Dried Food Supply, Breakfast and Entree Variety

 


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2 Buckets

240 servings of entree (including meat) and breakfast meals

25 year shelf life

Individually wrapped meals

Easily stored at home, in your vehicle, or your emergency shelter

Add water and wait up to fifteen minutes – it’s ready!

 

Wise Company, Emergency Food Supply, Organic Breakfast and Entree Variety, 90 Servings


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This is the organic foods version of the breakfast and entrees package.

Ready Supply Foods Variety Bucket,25.2 lbs of Freeze Dried Food Storage, Camping, Hiking, Survival, Emergency Food Supply, Up to 25 Year Shelf Life,140 Servings,43,280 Total Calories

 


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  • These meals are fully prepared- you don’t need to add ingredients, just add hot water and you are good to go.
  • Biggest bucket you can find – no filler agents added, no MSG or added sugars
  • Natural ingredients that make healthy meals
  • Compare our buckets weight to our competitors it won’t stand up..
  • Convenient tubs stacked and stored easily in your home or in your vehicle for emergency situations
  • Individual packages can be carried along on hiking, backpacking, and camping to add yummy, home made style meals to your trip
  • 25 years on the shelf? – 20% longer than most of the company’s  competitors
  • UV resistant bags extend the time your food will stay fresh!
  • 43,280 CALORIES- That’s 140 servings in a 25.2 pound bucket.
  • Don’t be fooled thinking this is all servings of vegetables and rice
  • Get real healthy protein meals with the variety bucket from breakfast to dinner
  •  Based on a 2000 calorie per day diet

 

This vendor has 20 plus years of emergency, survival and camping kitchen experience.

 

These buckets are five times the weight of other brands. That’s because the servings are based off a 2000 calories diet instead of 1200 calories that most other companies assemble.

 

Ready Supply Foods freeze dried food kit can be used for emergency preparedness, camping, hunting, backpacking or hiking.

 

This bucket has 27 different meals from old fashioned pancakes to cheesy potato soup. 

 

Don’t be fooled by the number of servings, check the calories. 

 

When an emergency hits you can count on our food to stay fresh longer than our competitors.

 

With a 25 year shelf life this bucket is essential for any household.

 

These fully prepared meals simply need hot water and a little time to become delicious nutrient dense meals without fillers.

 

All of the ingredients are natural with no MSG or GMO’s.

Take Ready Supply Food on your next camping trip or pack away for an unexpected emergency.

 

Order multiple buckets for bigger discounts.

 

What’s in the Bucket? Click over to the Amazon page (above image) and see the whole long list of meal ingredients.

 

The following syndicated article is a few years old. It covers the basics of freeze drying food, and may be of interest if this is a new topic for you.

 

Freeze Dried Foods – What Are the Options? MRE’s, Freeze Dried Food and Why it is a Great Choice by Andrew Hagley

 

Freeze drying is a recently developed method of preserving food stuffs. It involves the freezing of the food, then removing most of the foods moisture within a vacuum, and lastly sealing the food in air-tight storage. Freeze dried foods can be transported at normal temperatures, stored for very long periods of time, and be eaten with minimum preparation. Once prepared to eat, freeze-dried foods look and taste the same as the original, natural products.

Freeze-dried food was developed during World War II as a method of preserving blood for battlefield injuries, without needing refrigeration or damaging the organic nature of the plasma. The technology was later applied to food products after the end of the war. Coffee was one of the first freeze-dried products to be produced on a large scale. Many fruits, vegetables, meats, eggs, and foods are freeze-dried.

Freeze-dried food has many advantages. Because as much as 98% of the water content has been removed, the food is extremely lightweight, which reduces the cost of shipping. This also makes it popular with anyone that has to carry their food with them. Because it requires no refrigeration, shipping and storage costs are minimal. Freeze-dried food is also relatively clean, as the dehydration process makes it virtually impossible for yeast and harmful bacteria to survive the process. Finally, since the physical structure of the food is not altered during the freeze-dried process, the food retains much of its color and flavor when it is prepared by adding water. This makes it far more attractive to people, than food preserved by other methods.

One of the major disadvantages of freeze-dried food is its cost. The equipment required for this process is expensive, and the process itself is time consuming and labor intensive. These costs are usually passed on to the consumer, which makes freeze-dried food very expensive when compared to other methods of food preservation such as canning or freezing.

Raw Materials

Some foods are extremely well-suited to the freeze-drying process. Liquids, thin portions of meat, and small fruits and vegetables can be freeze dried easily. Coffee is the most common freeze-dried liquid. Chunks or slices of shrimp, crab, lobster, beef, and chicken can be freeze-dried. They are often mixed with vegetables as part of soups or main course entrees. Almost all fruits and vegetables can be freeze-dried, including beans, corn, peas, tomatoes, berries, lemons, oranges, and pineapples. Even items like olives and water chestnuts can be processed this way.

Thick portions of meat and larger, whole vegetables and fruits cannot be freeze dried with any success. With many other foods, it is simply not economical to preserve them by freeze drying.

The Manufacturing Process

A freeze-drying processing facility is usually a large plant with modern equipment. Its food-handling areas must be approved by the United States Department of Agriculture, and the company and its employees must adhere to government regulatory procedures. The plant may include a receiving and storage area for raw foods that arrive at the plant in bulk; a food cooking area for those foods that must be cooked before processing; a large area with several large freezing and drying chambers; and a packaging area. The facility may also include a research area where improved methods of freeze-drying foods are developed, and a test kitchen where new preparation techniques to improve the final taste, quality, and texture of the food are tried. Some plants are dedicated to freeze-drying only one product like freeze-dried coffee. Others process a wide range of meats, vegetables, and fruits. Nonfood products such as chemicals and pharmaceuticals are usually processed in separate plants from food products.

The freeze-drying process varies in the details of temperatures, times, pressures, and intermediate steps from one food to another. The following is a generalized description of the process with several specific exceptions noted.

Testing and preparation

The food is first checked for contamination and purity. Fruits, meats, and some other edibles are tested for bacterial counts and spoilage. Much of the work of the plant is dependent on the harvest season for each food. In January, for example, the plant would be processing celery, olives, lemons, oranges, and pineapples. In July, it would process green beans, peas, and strawberries, among others.

Some kinds of food, like seafood and meats, must be cooked before freeze drying. They are usually purchased already cut into small pieces. If they have not been pre-cooked and frozen, these foods are placed in large, industrial-sized kettles and properly cooked. Fruits and vegetables are usually purchased already cut, pitted, and peeled. These foods are simply washed with sprays of water. Some vegetables, like peas and corn, are quickly scalded, or blanched, before freezing. Coffee is purchased as a pre-brewed concentrated liquid. Because the aroma of coffee is important to consumers, a small amount of coffee bean oil may be added to the liquid. Unlike the water, the oil is not removed during the drying process.

Freezing

The food pieces are spread out on flat, metal trays which are stacked 20 to 30 high in slots in a wheeled cart. With food that has been pre-cooked and frozen, the trays are pre-chilled to prevent partial thawing during handling. With liquids like coffee, the pre-brewed coffee is poured into shallow pans. The carts are wheeled into a large, walk-in coldroom where the temperature can be as low as -40F (-40C). In this extremely cold temperature, the food is quickly frozen. There are usually a dozen or more coldrooms in operation, and the carts are kept there until it is time to move them into the drying chamber.

Drying

The carts are wheeled out of the coldroom and into a vacuum drying chamber. In the case of liquids like coffee, the frozen coffee is first ground up into small particles in a low-temperature grinder. The drying chamber is a large, long, horizontal cylinder with semi-elliptical ends. One end is hinged to open and close. When the trays of frozen food pieces are inside, the chamber is closed and sealed. In a large plant, there may be 20 to 30 drying chambers in operation at any time.

The drying procedure involves a process known as sublimation. In sublimation, a solid material is forced to change state into a gaseous material without ever becoming a liquid. In the case of freezedried food, the solid ice crystals trapped in the frozen food pieces are forced to change into water vapor without ever becoming liquid water. In the drying chamber, this is accomplished by evacuating the air with a vacuum pump to reduce the pressure to about 0.036 psi (0.0025 bar). The temperature of the food is raised to about 100 degrees by direct conduction through the bottom of the trays, radiation from heat lamps, or microwave heating. When the chamber is evacuated of air, the pressure is below the threshold at which water can simultaneously exist in a solid, liquid, and gaseous (vapor) state. This threshold is known as the triple point of water. Once the pressure falls below this point, the heat causes the ice crystals trapped in the frozen pieces of food to change directly to water vapor. The vapor is drawn off and condensed within the chamber leaving the food behind. The dried food is filled with tiny voids, like a sponge, where the ice crystals were once present. Not only does this make it easier for the food to reabsorb water when it is prepared for consumption, but the dried food retains its original size and shape. The time for this drying process varies. Freeze-dried liquids make take only about four hours to prepare, while semi-solids and solids like soup and sliced meats may take 12 hours or more.

Sizing and blending

The dried food pieces are removed from the drying chamber and tested for moisture content and purity.

Some food pieces may be ground to a smaller size or may be reduced to a powder. Others may be screened to separate them by size. Two or more different products may also be blended together to meet a customers specific specifications.

Packaging

Freeze-dried foods must be sealed in airtight containers to prevent them from absorbing moisture from the air. Several types of containers may be used: plastic laminated foil pouches, metal and plastic cans, or metal and fiber drums for bulk packaging. Some freeze-dried food is vacuum packed, in which the air is evacuated from the container before sealing. Other food has an inert gas like nitrogen injected into the container before sealing to displace the oxygen in the air and prevent oxidation or spoiling of the food. The packaging is done in the freeze-dry plant almost as soon as the foods come out of the drying chamber. The plant can form, fill, and seal the packages to the desired weight for the end user. Packages that are to be sold directly to the consumer are packed in cartons, stacked on pallets, and transported to the grocery warehouse. Other freeze-dried food is packaged in bulk and sold to a secondary processor for incorporation into other food products. Freeze-dried blueberries, for example, may be sent to a company that makes pancake and muffin mixes.

Quality Control

Each food has different processing, storage, and rehydration requirements. Some of the variables include the sizing of the raw food products before freezing, the cooking or blanching time and temperature, the rate of freezing and final freezing temperature, the rate of application of vacuum and the final vacuum pressure during drying, the rate and method of application of heat and the final dried product temperature, the allowable residual moisture content after drying, the storage temperature and atmosphere (vacuum, nitrogen, etc) after drying, and the rehydration procedures. At large freeze-drying facilities, electronic microprocessors regulate the times, temperatures, and pressures throughout each step of the process. A central computer collects this data, analyzes it using statistical quality control methods, and stores it for later reference. This assures that the food sent out to the public for consumption has been through a strictly controlled process that meets government guidelines and varies only slightly from batch to batch. The computer also collects data on the bacterial and moisture levels of the raw, bulk food products coming into the plant as well as the final freeze dried products. Special equipment may include computerized gas chromatographs and oxygen analyzers. Even the packaging materials are tested for their ability to prevent water vapor and oxygen transmission.

The Future

Food is not the only material that is freeze-dried. Pharmaceutical products such as antibiotics and vaccines are often preserved this way. Specialty chemicals, pigments, and ceramics powders are also produced using freeze-drying. Currently, there is development work on freeze-drying various aerosol sprays. One of the most interesting applications is freeze-drying flowers to produce bouquets that can be stored for many months before being reactivated to make fresh flowers. This would be especially beneficial for those who want flowers that bloom only during a short season.

The author enjoys camping and has recently become aware of the need for an emergency survival kit for the household.

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