By Dale Wallis
Freeze-dried fruit is convenient, nutritious and fun to add to different recipes. However, you might still wonder, “is freeze-dried fruit healthy for you as fresh fruit?”
The short answer is yes, it’s still highly nutritious because it keeps much of its nutritional content through the freeze-drying process. The information in this guide can give you an in-depth look at the nutritional value of freeze-dried fruits.
What Is Freeze-Dried Fruit?
Freeze-dried fruit goes through the freeze-drying process, which involves sublimation, the process of evaporating frozen water. Sublimation occurs when fruit freezes in a vacuum chamber, then the sub-freezing temperatures gradually rise. This forces the solid ice to evaporate as water vapor, which means the water content never enters the liquid state.
Freeze-drying removes up to 99% of the moisture content, making it an effective method for preserving foods. You’ll also find that a lot of fruits are good for freeze-drying, including:
Nutritional Contents of Freeze-Dried Fruit
Freeze-dried fruits are full of a range of nutrients including essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber. Many different fruits contain bioactive nutrients like polyphenols and carotenoids. Even though fruit contains sugar, the volume can differ between varieties. Some fruits are lower in sugar content than others, like cranberries which have a sugar content of about 3.5%. In terms of nutrition, if you can’t eat fresh, freeze-dried fruits are your next best option.
Take a look at some of the basic nutrients content in some common freeze-dried fruit products available, keeping in mind that 28 grams is equal to about one ounce:
- Freeze-dried strawberries: 120 calories and 15 grams of sugar per 34-gram serving
- Freeze-dried bananas: 150 calories and 30 grams of glucose per 40-gram serving
- Freeze-dried apples: 130 calories and 22 grams of sugar per 34-gram serving
- Freeze-dried cherries: 98 calories and 22 grams of sugar per 28-gram serving
- Freeze-dried raspberries: 130 calories and 13 grams of sugar per 34-gram serving
- Freeze-dried blackberries: 102 calories and 14 grams of sugar per 30-gram serving
- Freeze-dried blueberries: 108 calories and 19 grams of sugar per 28-gram serving
- Freeze-dried pears: 25 calories and 4 grams of sugar per 1/4-cup serving (or about two ounces)
- Freeze-dried peaches: 130 calories and 24 grams of sugar per 35-gram serving
- Freeze-dried pineapples: 70 calories and 14 grams of sugar per 100-gram serving
To see how these freeze-dried fruits compare in calorie and sugar content, take a look at the following calorie and sugar content in these fresh fruit equivalents:
- One large apple: 130 calories and 23 grams of sugar
- A medium-sized banana: 105 calories and nine grams of sugar
- One cup of blueberries: 84 calories and 15 grams of sugar
- One cup of blackberries: 62 calories and seven grams of sugar
- One cup of raspberries: 54 calories and five grams of sugar
- A dozen cherries: 60 calories and 12 grams of sugar
- Two plums: 61 calories and 14 grams of sugar
- One medium peach: 58 calories and 13 grams of sugar
- One cup of strawberries: 46 calories and seven grams of sugar
- One medium-sized pear: 101 calories and 17 grams of sugar
- One cup of pineapple chunks: 82 calories and 16 grams of sugar
Freeze Dried Fruits vs. Fresh Fruits
While both freeze-dried and fresh fruits are packed full of nutrients, there are a few differences between them. For one, the nutritional value can vary between fresh and freeze-dried because of fresh fruit’s tendency to continue ripening, which means the nutritional value within the fruit can diminish over time.
In freeze-dried fruits, though, the fruits are picked and flash-frozen at the peak of their ripeness, trapping in all the nutrients, vitamins, and minerals. With the exception of vitamin C, which is water-soluble, and several other nutrients found in fruit skins, much of the nutritional content remains inside the fruit when it’s freeze-dried.
While it seems that freeze-dried fruit carries more sugar than fresh fruit, this is simply not the case. The key is portion size, as you can eat multiple servings of freeze-dried fruit and not feel full like you would with a banana or apple. This means that the larger the portion of freeze-dried fruit you eat, the more sugar you’re consuming. So the trick is to watch your portions.
Freeze-dried fruits can often be cheaper than fresh because of the serving size. One apple can yield as much as two to three separate freeze-dried servings, so when you pay for the price of one package of a freeze-dried product, you may actually end up spending less for a bigger serving size.
The tastes can vary between freeze-dried fruits and fresh, too. Most freeze-dried fruits don’t hold the same scent as their fresh fruit counterparts, while some pack a punch of scent, like bananas. Depending on your personal preferences, you might favor the mild flavors of freeze-dried berries compared to the tartness of fresh. When it comes to taste, just experiment with different freeze-dried fruits to find what you like best.
Freeze-dried fruit also has a longer shelf life than fresh fruits. Some freeze-dried fruits, if packaged adequately enough, can last up to 25 years. The common range is anywhere from two to 25 years, and some even have a shelf life of 30 years. That’s a seriously long storage time when compared to fresh fruits, or even dried fruits. Because freeze-dried fruits contain as little as less than 1% of their original moisture content, this makes it ideal to store for long periods of time.
Freeze-dried can save you time when making salad and smoothie recipes. With pre-packaged varieties, all you have to do is toss it into your smoothie or salad and you’re good to go. You can even powder your freeze-dried fruits to make smoothie blending even easier.
The bottom line is that if you can eat fresh, do so, but if you’re looking at freeze-dried fruits as your most convenient options, don’t worry about the nutrient value. You’re getting all the benefits of fresh fruit — it’s just in more convenient packaging.