What is the Difference Between Freeze-Dried and Dehydrated Fruits?

Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

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.

Raisins are dehydrated grapes.
Raisins are dehydrated grapes.

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.

Fruit that is freeze-dried has a crisper texture.
Fruit that is freeze-dried has a crisper texture.

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.

Bananas can be both freeze-dried or dehydrated.
Bananas can be both freeze-dried or dehydrated.

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.

Many people enjoy both freeze-dried and dehydrated apples.
Many people enjoy both freeze-dried and dehydrated apples.

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.

A food dehydrator can be used to dry fruit.
A food dehydrator can be used to dry fruit.
Freeze-dried fruits not only keep their nutritional value, but can be stored for several years.
Freeze-dried fruits not only keep their nutritional value, but can be stored for several years.
Malcolm Tatum
Malcolm Tatum

After many years in the teleconferencing industry, Michael decided to embrace his passion for trivia, research, and writing by becoming a full-time freelance writer. Since then, he has contributed articles to a variety of print and online publications, including wiseGEEK, and his work has also appeared in poetry collections, devotional anthologies, and several newspapers. Malcolm’s other interests include collecting vinyl records, minor league baseball, and cycling.

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Discussion Comments

DylanB

My sister-in-law was always wanting to be prepared for emergencies. After going two weeks without power because of an ice storm, she vowed to keep freeze-dried and dehydrated meals and fruits on hand in case it ever happened again.

She won't let anyone touch the freeze-dried stuff, since it keeps longer than the dehydrated food. However, I did get to try some dehydrated beef stew during a power outage that lasted for a whole day, and it wasn't all that bad. You just add hot water, and since she has a gas stove, this wasn't an issue.

Dehydrated fruit is even easier, since you don't have to add anything to it to make it edible. She told us that when the expiration date on the freeze-dried food gets near, she will let us eat it. That will be a couple of years, though.

JackWhack

@giddion – In my opinion, the freeze-dried fruits taste a lot more like the real thing than the dehydrated fruits do. The problem with dehydrated fruits is that you will often find that preservatives or sweeteners have been added to them, and that takes away from the natural fruit flavor.

I have a package of dehydrated cranberries, and they taste so sweet that I can hardly eat more than a few at a time. Too much sugar was added.

giddion

I haven't tried dehydrated or freeze-dried fruits. Do they taste about the same? I know that freeze-dried fruit is supposed to be crispier, but as far as the flavor goes, is it nearly identical to dehydrated fruit?

kylee07drg

@julies – When the moisture is taken out of fruit, the natural sugars become way more noticeable. I have noticed that even freeze-dried and dehydrated fruits that say they have no sugar added taste extremely sweet because of this.

I prefer fruit in its original form. I like eating something juicy, because it just seems like it would be better for me.

julies

While dried fruit can be a very tasty snack, many of them are loaded with sugar. That is the main reason I started making my own dehydrated fruits and vegetables.

A dehydrator is not too expensive to buy, and I have got a lot of use out of it. I don't eat much sugar, so when I dry my fruit this way, I don't even add any sugar. I love drying different kinds of fruit and adding to nuts to make a great trail mix snack.

honeybees

Every fall we go to the orchard to pick apples, and always end up with more than what we know what to do with.

One year I decided to dry the extra fruit in our dehydrator. I sliced them up and placed them in the dehydrator for several hours. They smelled so good while they were drying. I was surprised at how crispy they turned out to be.

These apple slices were good alone as a dried fruit snack, and I also used them in my favorite granola recipe.

anon116080

I recently bought a food dehydrator. However because of the long dehydration process how much of the vitamins, minerals are still left at the end? Is freeze-dried fruit more nutritious than dehydrated fruit?

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