Today I decided to stop the great freeze-dry experiment. It’s been 17 days, more than twice the recommended time (though it did add “or so” to the end of “a week”), and I kind of need that freezer space back.
I took the tray out and set it on my stove to warm up for the afternoon. It yielded this.
Clearly this is one of those times where you write up the experiment report and the “conclusions” section reads “this did not work.” Kind of like my senior research in undergrad, actually, though at least there I got a beautiful graph of my active low-pass filter enhancing the sensitivity of the receiver.
Whereas in today’s experiment I get things like this:
That’s a soggy, folded apple slice. I didn’t taste it.
My hypothesis is that the inside of my fridge is too humid and too warm for this to be an effective home food preservation technique for me. There’s a lot of ice on the inside, it’s on the warm side for a freezer, and periodically I need to open it to remove food, letting in more warm air and moisture.
You’ll also note that only the potatoes turned black like the instructions said they would; the pumpkin and apple are still basically their original colors. An avenue for later exploration.
Though there is this one thing:
See that white part along the edge? That is a tiny, styrofoam-textured edging of what I’m pretty sure is freeze-dried potato.
It’s just that at the rate it’s going, full freeze-drying would take about five months. And I definitely need the freezer space back.
On the last episode of Astronaut Ice Cream, Erin attempts to freeze-dry fruits and vegetables at home! Will she succeed?
< opening theme song >
My freezer isn’t that cold-stuff stays frozen, but I’ve encountered colder freezers- so I figured it might take a bit longer than usual to freeze-dry my veggies. So on Sunday I took out an apple slice to thaw and hopefully turn black. I set it on my counter on top of a paper towel and went back to listening to the Steelers game.
Several hours later, it was a bit damp and floppy. It was not, however, black. It was apple-colored.
This morning (Wednesday) the plot thickened: I opened my freezer to get a couple of waffles for breakfast, and just to check on the slices I touched one of the apple pieces. And it was soft and foldable, like a piece of foam. It definitely was not apple-textured. Or frozen.
This particular apple slice was really, really thin-the slightly thicker apple and potato slices appeared to still be solid. I know my freezer is working because my waffles and ice and random things in bags are all still frozen. Maybe it needs another week. Maybe my freezer’s humidity is too high to pull this off.
I’ll check back with it next week to see how they’re doing.
Last week Amazon sent me email, which is not unusual. Usually it’s suggesting stuff I can’t afford to buy, or things which are similar to things I bought other people as gifts. Or things which are similar to my textbooks, that’s always a good one.
On this occasion, it was this:
Other than the astronaut ice cream, I don’t recall ever looking at anything in Amazon’s dairy and eggs department (because I didn’t know they had one).
While I have looked at astronaut ice cream, eaten astronaut ice cream, and named my blog after astronaut ice cream, I’ve never bothered to figure out what freeze-drying actually entails.
As a side note, my eleventh grade English class once spent more than one class period arguing over whether the lines
should have been “grape in the sun,” or if raisins had enough water content that they could continue to meaningfully dry up in the sun.
NASA actually developed freeze-drying of food for feeding astronauts, and in fact astronauts still eat freeze-dried food.
While NASA might use a vacuum and/or radiation to freeze-dry, googling informs me that a more time-consuming version can be performed at home.
After the jump are pictures!