Many people make use of freeze fried and dehydrated fruits as an efficient way to keep fruit on hand regardless of the season. While both types of fruits are dried, they differ in a few important ways. One of the most important differences is the process used to create the final product.
When fruit is dehydrated, the pieces are placed into a warm environment that removes much of the water content. This may be done naturally by laying the cut fruit in the sun on a hot surface, or mechanically by running the fruit through machinery that is designed to dehydrate the fruit. In either case, there are no added chemicals to encourage the process and no sugar added to the fruit.
While freeze-fried fruit is also dehydrated, the process for preparing it is different and somewhat more complicated. Before the drying process begins, the fruit is frozen. It is then placed into a chamber that makes use of a vacuum to gradually extract the water content. Heat is applied in the chamber and set at a temperature that allows the frozen fruit to quickly thaw while the vacuum extracts the water. The end result is a dried fruit that retains the taste of fresh and also develops a crispy texture.
While both types of dried fruit have a long shelf life, there is a significant difference in how long they will keep under normal conditions. In general, dehydrated fruits will retain their taste and flavor for a period of one year. Freeze-dried fruits can easily be stored for several years, assuming that the fruit is sealed in a container that is airtight and moisture free.
The texture of the fruit is also often different. Fruit that has been dehydrated has a more pliable texture, while freeze-dried varieties tend to be crisper and crunchier. Both types can be enjoyed as snacks, however, or be used in a number of different recipes.