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    Ask the Chef: What's a Freeze Dried Fruit, Anyway?

    By Julie Morris, Superfood Chef | October 19, 2012

    Likely you've noticed that many of the Navitas Naturals superfood powders are labeled as “freeze-dried powders.†What exactly does this imply? You'll be happy to know that from both a culinary and a health standpoint it implies… fabulous!

    Freeze-drying is a method used to preserve fresh-picked produce for long periods of time by removing moisture, without compromising flavor or nutrition. Of course, sun-drying fruits is one method to achieve this, where moisture is removed through evaporation. But freeze-drying is different -- removing the moisture through a process called sublimation, which chills the produce rapidly, then transforms the ice directly into water vapor that's vacuumed away from the fruit. Because the foods aren't ever heated the flavor and color remain remarkably fresh.

    The process may sound like a calculated move of modern science (and in truth, it is, for the purpose of food safety), nevertheless Peruvian natives have been confidently using freeze drying methods for nearly a millennium. Looking for ways to preserve food, while taking advantage of the drastic daily climate changes, freeze-dried chuño is a staple food of the many Peruvian regions. To make chuño, potatoes are trampled to break them down and expose them to the cold, dry air of the Andes at night. In the morning, the potatoes thaw and the moisture evaporates. After ongoing exposure to the cold and the sun, the result is essentially a freeze-dried potato that lasts indefinitely.

    Depending on the produce, and if kept away from moisture, most freeze-dried fruits and vegetables can last at minimum a year or two, often longer. (Though not necessary, their shelf life can be extended even further when kept in the freezer.) Best of all, when reconstituted in a recipe - smoothie or otherwise - the “Sleeping Beauty†benefits come instantly to life, making freeze-dried foods a wonderful option to have in the kitchen for instant nutrition and flavor appeal.

    Though Navitas offers several freeze-dried products that I love, one of my favorites is the Pomegranate Powder, which transforms the entire pomegranate in a gorgeous pink powder that's shelf stable. I'm obsessed with it in this Pomberry Balance smoothie recipe, where it imparts the classic sweet-tart flavor of pomegranate, without the mess or the hassle of opening the tricky red superfruit!

    Do you add freeze-dried fruits or powders into your smoothies? What's your fave?