Bacon is a beloved breakfast food that many of us can’t imagine starting our day without. But what happens when you have more bacon than you can eat before it goes bad?
Freezing it is an option, but it’s not always the best solution. That’s where freeze drying comes in.
In this article, we’ll explore the question of whether or not you can freeze dry bacon and how to do it properly. We’ll also discuss the benefits of freeze drying protein in general and share some tips for storing your bacon long-term.
So, grab a cup of coffee and let’s dive into the world of freeze-dried bacon!
Can You Freeze Dry Bacon?
Yes, you can freeze dry bacon! In fact, raw bacon can be readily freeze dried to a moisture content of less than 1.0 percent. The lower the moisture content of the freeze-dried raw bacon, the better its storage stability. It’s important to note that freeze-dried bacon doesn’t last as long as other freeze-dried foods because of its fat content. However, if prepared and stored properly, freeze-dried bacon can last for 15-25 years.
What Is Freeze Drying And How Does It Work?
Freeze drying, also known as lyophilization or cryodesiccation, is a process that removes water or other solvents from a sample by placing it under a vacuum while frozen. This allows the ice to change directly from a solid to a vapor without passing through a liquid phase, a process called sublimation. Freeze drying is ideal for preserving the integrity of a sample’s biological and chemical structure, providing long-term preservation properties.
Freeze drying can be achieved in various volumes, from small at-home freeze dryers all the way up to large, production-scale equipment. The process typically involves freezing the material, then reducing the pressure and adding heat to allow the frozen water in the material to change directly to a vapor. Raw foods are comprised of about 80%–95% water, which can be divided into “free” and “bound” water. In the freeze-drying process, all free water and some bound water must be removed, and free water must remain frozen at all times.
The primary difference between freeze-drying and vacuum-drying is that in freeze-drying, all free water must be removed via sublimation, followed by the removal of remaining bound water in a process called desorption drying. Freeze-drying should be performed in controlled conditions that do not melt the water, as liquid water may change the product’s composition, shape, and physical properties. Once frozen water is removed via sublimation, the remaining product develops a highly porous structure. However, adding water rehydrates the product almost immediately.
Freeze drying is commonly used for preserving perishable materials, with the goal of extending their shelf life and/or preparing them for transport. Primary applications of freeze drying include biological (e.g., bacteria and yeasts), biomedical (e.g., surgical transplants), food processing (e.g., coffee), and preservation. The low temperature used in processing ensures that the rehydrated product retains much of its original qualities, including taste, appearance, and nutritional value.
How To Freeze Dry Bacon Properly
Freeze drying bacon is a great way to preserve it for long-term storage. Here’s how to freeze dry bacon properly:
1. Start with raw bacon: Raw bacon can be freeze dried to a moisture content of less than 1.0 percent. The lower the moisture content, the better its storage stability.
2. Cook the bacon: Cook the bacon until it’s crispy. This will help to remove excess fat and moisture, which will make the freeze drying process more effective.
3. Cut the bacon into pieces: Cut the bacon into small, bite-sized pieces. This will help to ensure that the bacon dries evenly and thoroughly.
4. Freeze the bacon: Place the bacon pieces on a baking sheet and freeze them for at least 24 hours. This will help to remove any remaining moisture from the bacon.
5. Place the bacon in a freeze dryer: Once the bacon is frozen, place it in a freeze dryer. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific machine.
6. Store the bacon: Once the bacon is freeze dried, store it in an airtight container with an oxygen absorber. This will help to prevent moisture and oxygen from getting in and spoiling the bacon.
By following these steps, you can properly freeze dry your bacon and enjoy it for years to come.
Benefits Of Freeze Drying Protein
Freeze drying protein, also known as lyophilization, is a highly effective method for preserving delicate materials against degradation or decomposition. One of the main benefits of freeze drying protein is that it results in improved stability profiles. Protein products that have been freeze dried are more stable than liquid formulations. This makes them ideal for long-term storage and distribution, as cold-chain issues are mitigated and the vibrational stress during shipment is minimized. Freeze-dried products are also less susceptible to contamination due to extractables and leachables from the container closure, as the formulation is only in contact with the closure for short periods instead of the entire shelf life.
Another advantage of freeze drying protein is that it allows you to take advantage of bulk sales and co-op meat shares without worrying about freezer burn. Freeze-dried proteins are easy to store, and you can even fill each tray with a different kind of food for an instant variety of stored protein. You can freeze dry any kind of meat, plus eggs and seafood. When you’re ready to serve, just reconstitute them using water. Freeze drying just removes water and leaves all the flavor and nutritional content intact, making it an ideal method for preserving high-value biomolecules such as proteins.
Despite its many advantages, freeze drying protein does have some disadvantages. The process is lengthy and complex, resulting in higher overall production costs and requiring a larger capital investment for manufacturing. However, for those looking to preserve high-value biomolecules or take advantage of bulk sales and co-op meat shares without worrying about freezer burn, the benefits of freeze drying protein far outweigh the disadvantages.
Storing Freeze-Dried Bacon Long-Term
To store freeze-dried bacon long-term, it’s important to follow a few key steps. First, place the freeze-dried bacon in an airtight container to prevent it from reabsorbing moisture from the air and spoiling. Mylar bags are an excellent option for this purpose, as they are both easy to use and inexpensive.
Once you have your bacon stored in an airtight container, you’ll want to make sure it stays dry. To do this, dry it at 160F for around 8 hours, making sure to pat the crumbles dry often to absorb any fat or moisture that accumulates. You may also want to lay parchment paper on the bottom of your machine to protect it from any grease that may drip.
After you’ve dried your bacon, store it in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer. It’s important to note that while dehydrating bacon for long-term storage is possible, it’s not an approved method of preservation for the home cook. Bacon contains fat, and no amount of cooking or dehydrating will get rid of all of the fat. Fat will go rancid fairly quickly, so you want to do this knowing that it is not a food you can store long-term, and it will need to be stored in your refrigerator or freezer for the safest storage.
If you’re looking for an even longer shelf life for your freeze-dried bacon, consider vacuum sealing it in hermetically sealed gastight containers along with an oxygen absorber. This will help ensure that your bacon stays fresh and tasty for years to come.
Creative Ways To Use Freeze-Dried Bacon
If you’re wondering what to do with your freeze-dried bacon, don’t worry, there are plenty of creative ways to use it! Here are some ideas to get you started:
1. Breakfast: Of course, bacon is a classic breakfast food, and freeze-dried bacon is no exception. Add it to your scrambled eggs or omelets, sprinkle it on top of your avocado toast, or use it as a topping for your breakfast bowl.
2. Salads: Bacon bits are a popular salad topping, and freeze-dried bacon works just as well. Add it to your Caesar salad or your Cobb salad for an extra burst of flavor.
3. Sandwiches: Bacon is a common ingredient in sandwiches, and freeze-dried bacon can be a great addition. Try adding it to your turkey or ham sandwich for a savory twist.
4. Snacks: Freeze-dried bacon can make for a delicious and satisfying snack. Try sprinkling it on top of popcorn or mixing it into your trail mix for an extra protein boost.
5. Party appetizers: Bacon-wrapped dates or bacon-wrapped jalapeño poppers are always crowd-pleasers at parties. With freeze-dried bacon, you can easily make these appetizers ahead of time and store them until you’re ready to serve.
6. Main dishes: Bacon can be a great addition to many main dishes, from pasta dishes to casseroles. Try adding freeze-dried bacon to your mac and cheese or your shepherd’s pie for an extra layer of flavor.
No matter how you choose to use your freeze-dried bacon, be sure to store it properly in an airtight container in a cool, dry place. With these creative ideas, you’ll never run out of ways to enjoy this delicious food!