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Freeze-Dried Dog Food: Everything You Need to Know
Over the past few years, the popularity of freeze-dried dog food has skyrocketed. Pet owners are switching from dehydrated dog food or highly processed kibble to more nutritious and tasty freeze-dried dog food. This is because freeze-dried foods can be shelf-stable for over 20 years and retain nearly all their nutrients after being dehydrated.
Also, freeze-dried foods can be rehydrated easily by placing them in hot water. In a few minutes, it will return to a normal consistency. Rehydrated raw meat can then be cooked and fed to your pet.
We have previously discussed the difference between dehydrated and freeze-dried dog foods, but in this article, we will do a deep dive into freeze-dried dog food. We’ll walk you through everything you need to know about freeze-dried dog food.
What is Freeze Drying?
Before we jump into freeze-dried dog food, it’s a good idea to understand what freeze-drying is first.
Freeze-drying is a method of preserving food. Instead of relying on chemicals to keep meals fresh, this process uses extreme cold and prolonged heat exposure to dehydrate food and other items.
By removing the majority of the water content from food, we create an environment that isn’t hospitable for bacteria growth.
Because of that, the meals can last for years without refrigeration. It can be stored in mason jars, mylar bags, or food-grade buckets.
What are examples of Freeze-Dried Dog Food?
Just about anything that dogs can eat can be freeze-dried. Some examples of freeze-dried foods that dogs love and are safe to eat include:
- Meat (Chicken, Ham, etc.)
- Dairy (Eggs, yogurt, milk, etc.)
It is common for dog owners to give their pets an entirely raw diet. Although this is common, the US Food and Drug Administration advises against giving dogs certain raw foods. This is because common dog foods like raw chicken may contain harmful bacteria like salmonella and E. Coli.
So, to be on the safe side, it’s always a good practice to cook your raw dog food before freeze-drying it.
Note: Some dogs may have allergies and be intolerant to certain food items in high doses
How Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food Made?
The term freeze drying may sound complicated, but the process is quite straightforward. Typically, wet dog food will contain about 70% to 80% water.
While the excess moisture is excellent for your canine, it can reduce the shelf life of the feed. That’s because the extra water creates a cozy environment for bacteria to grow.
So, to push back the expiration date of the food, we can remove the water.
To start off, we prepare the dog food normally. Then, we freeze it until all the water inside has crystalized.
Once that’s done, we place the meal in a vacuum chamber. This causes the frozen water to sublimate. That means it’ll turn from solid to gas without going through the liquid phase.
Then, the water vapor will evaporate off the food without changing its nutritional value.
After that, the feed goes through a secondary dehydration stage. We call that desorption drying. This step will remove any remaining bound water that may be in the food.
How to Freeze-Dry Dog Food at Home
If you want to preserve food at home, you can invest in a freeze-drying machine. Although, these devices can be costly.
So, if you don’t want to break the bank, you may use the freezer method. Luckily, this process is exceptionally simple.
Begin by preparing the dog food as you usually would. After that, cut the meal into bite-sized pieces. Here, one-inch squares should do the trick.
Plus, focus on getting rid of any chunks. Once that’s done, spread the food onto a baking sheet in a single layer.
Then, pop the tray into your freezer for a minimum of one week. At this point, the process is complete.
Yet, you have to test out if it works properly. To do that, take a small portion of the food out of the freezer and let it thaw for about two hours.
If it returns to normal, then the process is a success. However, if the food turns black or brown, you need to leave it in the freezer for a few more days.
Is Freeze-Dried Dog Food Healthy?
Most pet owners consider freeze-dried food to be a healthy alternative. That’s because freeze-drying is one of the most effective food preservation methods.
It doesn’t alter the composition of the meals or their nutritional value. Besides that, it’ll help the food maintain its color, flavor, and structure.
Moving on, elements like antioxidants and vitamins are sensitive to temperatures. So, heating them up may destroy these compounds.
Luckily, with freeze-drying, this isn’t an issue. The low-temperature nature of the process will keep these chemicals intact.
There are some misconceptions dog owners follow that may not be the best decision for their furry friends.
For starters, some dog owners like to feed their pets rehydrated, freeze-dried raw food, but the Food and Drug Administration advises against this. Raw dog food can make your dog sick with salmonella, E. Coli, or some other foodborne illness.
Additionally, many pet parents don’t check the sources of the dog food. Nutrious meat options for your dog are important to ensure they get vital nutrients, amino acids, and maintain good gut health. Providing your dog with humanely raised beef, or minimally processed meat, can go a long way to ensuring your dog stays in good health.
How to Rehydrate Freeze-Dried Dog Food
Most of the time, freeze-dried food is meant to be served as is. Yet, you have to remember that the preservation method removes all free water.
This can make the food a little crunchy and tough. Sadly, some senior canine companions don’t have the teeth to chew through the crispy meals.
Thankfully, you can rehydrate the food to soften it up. Start by warming up a little water.
Then, add one part liquid to one part dog food. After that, wait 15 to 20 minutes for the meal to absorb the water.
You can use boiling water for this step to speed up the process. However, remember that high temperatures may reduce the health benefits of the food.
How Long Does Freeze-Dried Dog Food Last?
Generally, just like regular meals, most freeze-dried foods will come with an expiration date. You should be able to find the exact time printed on the label.
If you use a freeze dryer machine and properly store the food in a food bucket or mylar bag, it can last up to 25 years. The freeze-drying process removes much of the moisture from the food, allowing the shelf life of most freeze-dried foods to be extended for much longer.
Although, once you open the container, the food will only last for about a month. So, to ensure you don’t give your pup expired food, it’s best to test it before mealtime.
Take out a small portion of the meal and let it thaw out. If it gives off a rancid odor, it’s best to dispose of the batch of food.
Freeze-drying is a method of preserving dog food to ensure it lasts for a long time. In the right, air-tight containers, the feed can last up to 25 years in storage.
The process involves sublimating the water inside of meals. This will allow the food to maintain its color, structure, and flavor. Besides that, it won’t alter the nutritional value of the meal.
Freeze drying truly is a revolutionary way to preserve items. If you would like to learn more about freeze-drying, explore our site to find related articles.
If you still have any questions about freeze-dried dog foods, feel free to send us an email, and we will get back to you as soon as we can.
Freeze-Dried vs. Dehydrated Dog Food: What Is the Difference?
Freeze-drying and dehydration are both method for food preservation. Dehydration relies on high temperatures, while freeze-drying uses cold temperatures. Because of that, the latter is much better at preserving nutrients, antioxidants, and vitamins. The main downside of freeze-drying is that it is an expensive method for preserving food because it uses a lot more energy to perform the food drying process.
Can I Freeze-Dry Dog Food at Home?
Yes, using a Harvest Right freeze-drying machine, you can preserve dog food at home. Yet, if you don’t want to invest in the device, you can use your freezer instead. However, the process will take quite a bit longer to complete and much more difficult to perform.
How to Freeze-Dry Dog Food Without a Machine?
The easiest way to freeze-dry your food without a machine is to use your freezer. Place your food in the icy chamber for about a week to remove all free water.
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If you are looking to buy cookware, you probably came down to ceramic cookware vs stainless steel cookware. Learn to see which is better for you.