Food Storage Essentials: How to choose from many dried food options

Published: Friday, July 12 2013 5:00 a.m. MDT

Some dried foods are critical for great flavor in recipes.

Leslie Probert

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With many dried foods available, it can be overwhelming knowing which to choose. For people gathering basic food storage, their decisions will depend on what they plan to make with those basics. Planning around recipes families will enjoy is a simple place to begin.

Seven dried, freeze-dried foods make great-tasting recipes

Taste is critical in food storage dishes. Having converted hundreds of delicious recipes into food storage meals, here is a simple list of seven dried foods most commonly used in great tasting recipes:

Garlic

Onion

Green peppers

Celery

Carrots

Peas

Potatoes

Interestingly, dried garlic, onion, green peppers and celery provide more intense flavor in recipes compared to their freeze-dried equivalents, and they are less expensive. Because dried foods expand and absorb more water than freeze-dried as they are cooked, only half as much dried food is required. The above four dried foods hydrate and cook simultaneously in just 10 minutes. While these foods in freeze-dried form will cook quickly in 3-5 minutes, they lose a significant amount flavor if simmered or cooked in a recipe. To retain their flavor, freeze-dried vegetables should be added in the last 3-5 minutes of cooking time.

Dried carrots have a strong smell and flavor, which deter some people from storing them, and they take 20-25 minutes to hydrate and cook. A new process called puff-drying gives carrots excellent smell and flavor, and they hydrate in just 3-5 minutes. Add puff-dry dehydrated carrots at the end of recipe cooking time to preserve their great flavor. Not all food storage businesses sell puff-dry carrots, so search online for where to find them. Sometimes they are listed as dried carrots, but make sure the product description says they are puff-dried.

Dried peas also take a long time to hydrate and cook. Freeze-dried peas are a great option, even though they cost a little more, because they hydrate and cook in around 3 minutes. They provide excellent color and variety in food storage recipes, and for best flavor should be added at the end of cooking time. Freeze-dried peas can also be soaked in lukewarm water for 10 minutes with a little bit of sugar and added directly to salads with delicious results.

Mashed potatoes are simple to make from potato flakes or pearls. Dried potatoes can be purchased as hash browns, dices or slices. Consider simplifying by storing dices only, which fry beautifully in place of hash browns and can also be used in soups and main dishes in place of slices.

Add other dried foods after planning for recipes

After storing enough of the above seven foods for the recipes you plan to fix, it’s simple to add other dried and freeze-dried foods your family will enjoy for side dishes or snacks as your budget allows.

Tip for saving money when buying dried foods

Many food storage companies send out regular catalogs, fliers or emails advertising sales, which can really stretch food storage dollars. Be sure to register for these notifications.

Dried and freeze-dried foods greatly expand possibilities for delicious meals made with stored foods. It’s nice to have recipes using these foods that your family can enjoy now, not just in an emergency. This makes it easy to gradually rotate what you store instead of waiting until your entire supply reaches the end of its shelf life.

In an emergency, having some dried and freeze-dried fruits and vegetables will be of great nutritional benefit when fresh foods may not be available and in seasons when a garden is not an option. These foods provide important vitamins and other nutrients not found in basic food storage.

Leslie Probert, a graduate in home economics from Brigham Young University, has been a popular speaker and is co-author of "Emergency Food Storage in a Nutshell, 3rd Edition" with over 400 fast, creative recipes. E-mail: foodstoragechick@gmail.com

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