Do you love candy? I have to admit, I have a sweet tooth, myself. But sometimes I’ve left candy too long in the pantry and noticed a definite deterioration in quality. Has that happened to you?
Have you ever wondered if you could freeze dry candy using a food dehydrator? If you’re a fan of sweets and have a curious mind, you’ve come to the right place!
In this article, we’ll explore the ins and outs of both food dehydration and freeze-drying. We’ll answer the popular question: can your food dehydrator double as a freeze dryer for your favorite candies? We’ll also examine other ideas for preserving the shelf life of candy. So, hang on tight, we have lots of information to share!
Quick Answer: The short answer is no, you cannot use a food dehydrator to freeze dry candies. The processes of freeze-drying and dehydrating are distinctly different. But that’s not the whole story… There are techniques you can use that will result in a partial freeze-drying of certain candies. Read on to find out more!
Understanding Food Dehydration
What exactly is food dehydration? It’s the process of removing moisture from different foods to make them last longer. By reducing moisture content, we can stop bacteria and mold from ruining our favorite foods.
And that’s where home food dehydrators come in handy. These cool little appliances work by circulating warm air around the food. This draws out moisture while keeping nutrition and flavor intact. They’re perfect for drying fruits, veggies, herbs, and even making delicious beef jerky. They may take a while to work their magic, but the results can be amazing!
The Science Behind Freeze-drying
Freeze-drying is a whole different ball game compared to traditional food dehydration. (*)
Here’s how it works. First, the product gets frozen at super-low temperatures. Then, a process called sublimation removes the ice crystals. Sublimation works by turning ice into vapor, bypassing the liquid stage.
The end result? A perfectly preserved product that keeps its flavor and texture intact, with minimal loss. Freeze-dried foods are lightweight, and maintain their original shape, color, and taste for a long time. This makes them perfect for camping trips or emergency stockpiles.
Vegetables, fruits, and beef are popular freeze-dried items. But how about candies? Can you freeze dry candies?
Yes, you can! But unfortunately, not by using a food dehydrator. Here’s why.
The Limitations of a Food Dehydrator
Food dehydrators are great at removing moisture from foods, but they can’t freeze them. Freezing is crucial in the freeze-drying process and helps preserve the structure of the product.
Unlike a freeze dryer that can go as low as -58°F, most food dehydrators only work at temperatures between 104-158°F . They cannot freeze food. Plus, there’s no vacuum pressure in a food dehydrator. This prevents sublimation from occurring.
Other issues with putting candy in a food dehydrator include:
- Candy is sensitive to heat, due to its high sugar content. It can melt or lose its shape when exposed to elevated temperatures during the drying process. Chocolate-based candies, in particular, are prone to melting.
- Some candies contain ingredients like nougat or caramel that become sticky when heated. Using a food dehydrator to dry these types of candies can result in a gooey mess.
So, what does this mean? Is a food dehydrator useless for freeze-drying candy? Not necessarily.
Experimenting with Partial Freeze-drying
Even though a food dehydrator can’t fully freeze dry candy, there’s still room for experimentation. You can try a partial freeze-drying method by making a few adjustments.
- Start with candies that are less likely to melt or lose their shape when exposed to mild heat. Hard candies, gummies without fillings, or fruit-based candies hold up better during dehydration.
- Give your chosen candies a partial freeze before popping them into the food dehydrator. When the candy is colder than the surrounding air, it allows for some moisture removal without excessive melting. To do this, place the candies on a tray and put them in the freezer for about 30 minutes before transferring them to the dehydrator.
- Last, you’ll want to adjust the temperature and time settings on your food dehydrator. Instead of using the high heat setting, try lowering it to around 90-100°F . This way, you can remove moisture from the candies without melting them completely. Keep an eye on them and check every hour or so until they reach the desired dryness.
By following these steps, you can partially freeze dry candy with your food dehydrator. The results won’t be identical to traditional freeze-drying, but it will still extend their shelf life. Plus, you can have fun experimenting with different candies and finding out which ones work best.
Exploring Alternative Techniques
We’ve also lined up a few other solutions. Below are alternative methods you can explore that offer similar results to freeze-drying candy:
- Vacuum Chamber: A vacuum chamber works by removing all the air and moisture from a sealed container. This helps to dehydrate the candies. It’s a lot like freeze-drying, but on a smaller scale. Be aware that it won’t produce quite the same results as freeze-drying. Yet, it can still remove a significant amount of moisture from the candies, helping to extend their shelf life.
- Home Freeze Dryer: While food dehydrators may not be suitable for full-scale freeze-drying, you can always buy a home freeze dryer. They can be pricey, though.
- Freezing Candies in Your Freezer: If you’re only looking for a simple way to extend the shelf life of your favorite candies, consider freezing them, old-school style. Seal them in an airtight container and store it in your freezer. Freezing will slow down bacterial growth and help maintain their quality for longer periods.
While a food dehydrator may not work perfectly for freeze-drying candy, don’t let that discourage you! Experimenting with partial freeze-drying can still yield interesting results.
We hope this article has answered your questions about freeze-drying candy with your food dehydrator. If we’ve missed anything, please give us a shout! We’d love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to enter your questions or comments in the space provided.