What is the Shelf Life of Freeze-Dried Food

What Is the Shelf Life of Freeze Dried Food?

Table of Contents
Table of Contents

For decades, freeze-drying has been the go-to technique for the long-term preservation of meat, fruit, and vegetables. By removing 95 to 99% of the moisture from raw, frozen products, freeze-dried foods are given a lifespan of 25 years—more if stored in optimal conditions. 

Unlike other preservation methods, freeze-drying retains the texture, appearance, and nutritional value of the freeze-dried product. This makes it one, if not the best, method of preserving the integrity of foods for extended periods.

Fortunately, you can freeze-dry all sorts of food, including meats, deserts, powders, grains, fruits, and vegetables, for 25 years. Once opened, freeze-dried food will have its shelf life shortened to 6-12 months.

In this article, we’ll discuss everything you need to know about freeze-dried food. How long does freeze-dried food last? And how do you store freeze-dried food to maximize its shelf life? Let’s find out. 

freeze dried vegetables

Shelf Life of Freeze-Dried Food

The shelf life of freeze-dried foods is highly dependent on how they’re packaged and stored after the freeze-drying process, as well as the type of food being freeze-dried. 

In optimal conditions, most freeze-dried food has a shelf-life of around 20 to 30 years. When packaging your freeze-dried food for long-term storage, you should store it in an airtight container, add oxygen absorbers, and store it in a place out of reach from most pests. We often suggest keeping your freeze-dried food in a food-grade bucket or in a mylar bag. Using these storage methods, you will be able to limit the exposure to environmental aggressors that cause food to go bad.

Here are the factors that affect the shelf life of freeze-dried food: 

  • Moisture: Freeze-dried food goes bad in storage areas with a lot of moisture. Moist environments encourage the growth of microorganisms in freeze-dried products, significantly shortening their lifespan. 
  • Light Exposure: Light has deteriorative effects on freeze-dried food. Extended exposure to direct light causes the fats, vitamins, and proteins in freeze-dried foods to break down, degrading their quality and nutritional value. 
  • Temperature: Freeze-dried food must be stored between 32°F and 75°F to maximize its longevity. Freeze-dried food doesn’t last long when constantly exposed to a temperature higher than 75°F. 
  • Oxygen Exposure: Oxygen causes oxidative reactions with vitamins, fats, and other food constituents. Because of this, freeze-dried food should always be stored in airtight packaging with oxygen absorbers

Once freeze-dried foods are taken out of storage and exposed to the elements, their shelf life will be shortened to 6-12 months. However, you can go through the storage process again to extend the shelf life of foods.

Note: You should also be mindful of pests; although they don’t affect the shelf life, rodents are known to penetrate mylar bags and expose food items to oxygen and moisture. But keeping your food items in a food-grade bucket provides an extra layer of protection from pests accessing your food supply.

Shelf Life of Different Types of Foods

The type of food being freeze-dried also affects its storage life. Here’s how long food products last under optimal conditions: 

Food ItemShelf Life (Years)
Staples (flour, oats, sugar, etc.)30+
Vegetables25 – 30
Fruits25 – 30
Desserts25 – 30
Meat Products15 – 25

freeze dried shrimp

How Does Freeze Drying Work? 

Freeze drying, also known as lyophilization, is the process of placing a frozen product under a vacuum chamber where the temperature is lowered to below freezing, then slowly raised. The product’s liquid content transforms from a solid to a vapor without passing through a liquid phase. This process is called sublimation. 

The food’s cell structure remains unchanged through sublimation, closely resembling its fresh counterpart. This means that when the freeze-dried food is rehydrated, it’ll look, taste, and feel almost the same as a non-freeze-dried product.

Today, freeze-drying is applied to nearly every type of food, from fruits, vegetables, and meats to powders and desserts like ice cream and candies. 

Nutrition of Freeze Dried Food

Freeze-dried food retains up to 98% of its nutrients even after years of storage. This is quite significant as other preservation methods, such as dehydration, only retain around 60 to 75% of its nutrients when rehydrated. 

Also, foods with a high density of nutrients are known to be more flavorful and tastier, so if you care about how your food tastes, eating freeze-dried foods is better than dehydrated foods.

Taste of Freeze Dried Food

One of the biggest misconceptions about freeze-drying is that it sucks the flavor out of food. That couldn’t be farther from the truth. 

Freeze-dried food tastes nearly identical to its fresh counterpart, with the same flavor, texture, and natural aroma when rehydrated. 

Weight of Freeze Dried Food

Freeze-dried food is significantly lighter than its fresh counterpart because it has up to 99% of its water removed. 

Freeze-dried food is easy to store, package, and transport, making it an excellent choice for outdoor activities like backpacking, camping, and hiking, where weight and space are concerns. 

It also does not need to be refrigerated, so it will not take up any fridge or freezer space.

freeze dried raspberries

How to Store Freeze Dried Food

To maximize the shelf-life of freeze-dried food, you want to eliminate three primary factors of food spoilage: light exposure, moisture, and oxygen. You can achieve this through proper packaging and storage. 


Freeze-dried food should be stored in an airtight container, preferably mason jarsmylar bags, or a food-grade bucket. Otherwise, freeze-dried foods will reabsorb moisture from the air and spoil. 

Mylar bags are the simplest and cheapest way to store freeze-dried foods. They do an excellent job of blocking out light and air, but you want to make sure to remove as much oxygen as possible before sealing the bag. You can do this through a vacuum packing machine or oxygen absorbers. 

Cans and jars work just as well as long as they’re properly sanitized and sealed. Just keep in mind that jars allow light in, so it’s crucial that you store them in a dark area. 


Location matters just as much as the packaging itself. If you store your freeze-dried products in an unsanitary or high-temperature environment, not even the best packaging will save them. 

You’ll want to store the freeze-dried foods atop a shelf in a dark closet or basement. They should be stored in temperatures between 32°F and 75°F.  

freeze dried caramel

How to Rehydrate Freeze Dried Food?

To rehydrate freeze-dried food, add boiling water to a bowl of freeze-dried food. Then allow the freeze-dried food to soak the food for 10 to 15 minutes to reconstitute it to its original state. You can use any liquid, whether regular water, milk, broth, or juice. 

Use a 1:1 ratio when rehydrating, meaning that for every cup of freeze-dried food, use one cup of water. This can change depending on the type of food you’re rehydrating, so it’s best to add water gradually to prevent overhydration. 

freeze dried foods

Final Thoughts 

The answer to the question, “How long does freeze-dried food last?” is it depends on the type of food and the manner it’s stored. Generally, freeze-dried food has a lifespan of around 25 to 30 years, give or take. Once the package of freeze-dried food is opened, the shelf life of freeze-dried food is shortened to 6-12 months.

Freeze-dried meat doesn’t last as long as freeze-dried fruits or freeze-dried vegetables because meat has a high-fat content, thus shortening its life by around five years. Freeze-dried powders last longer than fruits and veggies, with lifespans reaching upwards of 30 years.

If you are interested in learning more about freeze-dried foods, see related articles on our website.

People Also Ask

What Types of Foods can be Freeze Dried?

The best foods to freeze dry are as follows: 

  • Fruits: apples, citrus, berries, peaches and nectarines, pears, bananas, and passionfruit
  • Vegetables: broccoli and other brassicas, carrots, beets, parsnips, corn, leafy greens, tomatoes, and potatoes 
  • Herbs: lavender, rosemary, lemon balm
  • Meat: beef, chicken, lamb, pork, and fish 
  • Dairy: milk, sour cream, cheese, yogurt 
  • Desserts and treats: brownies, cookies, cheesecake

Which Foods Cannot Be Freeze Dried?

Foods that are high in fat can’t be freeze-dried. Examples include jam, honey, pure chocolate, peanut butter, and syrup.

How Long Does Freeze-Dried Food Last?

Most freeze-dried food lasts between 25 to 30 years. Herbs last for around 3 years, not because they spoil but because their aroma disappears during that period. You can still use freeze-dried herbs after the 3-year mark but without the original aroma.

Which Is Healthier Freeze-Dried or Dehydrated?

Freeze-dried food is healthier than dehydrated food because freeze-drying retains up to 98% of the food’s minerals and vitamins, whereas dehydration retains only up to 75%.

How much does a Freeze-Dryer Cost?

The biggest problem with freeze drying is that the equipment is expensive and difficult to maintain. Commercial freeze dryers don’t fall under the $2,500 mark, with some costing as much as $6,000.

Sign Up to our Newsletter to access our eBooks
Food Storage: Canning and Jarring 101
Get our latest Articles
Subscribe today!

Get our latest Article and eBook
Subscribe to our Newsletter today!

Find us on

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

stay in touch

Receive survival tips in your inbox daily & access our free survival e-Books