Before the influence of technology on the food industry, natural resources like sun, wind, salt, etc., helped dehydrate food materials to preserve them longer. However, these methods were not efficient and included hectic processes. In this scenario, air-drying and freeze-drying of food materials came to mainstream prominence. The similarity between air-drying and freeze-drying is that they eliminate the moisture which would otherwise cause microbial growth. Due to this fundamental similarity, many of us consider them interchangeable. Well, the truth is that these methods differ in several characteristics and processes of the end products.
Herbs are an indispensable accompaniment to any dish. They add flavour and taste to make the dish more appealing and palatable. The year-long availability of seasonal herbs through air-drying and freeze-drying makes it a convenient alternative to fresh herbs. So, what are the fundamental differences between air-dried herbs and freeze-dried herbs?
1. Different food preservation processes
In freeze-drying, the herbs are frozen at shallow temperatures. Once frozen, they are moved to a compartment that is vacuum-sealed. Through the process of sublimation, the moisture is completely removed. Viola!! The freeze-dried herb is all ready to pack!!
Air-drying is relatively simple, where the herb is exposed to hot air in a chamber. The hot air removes moisture content, thereby prolonging its shelf-life.
Though both processes try to retain flavour to the full extent, freeze-dried herbs have more flavour than air-dried ones. However, air-dried ones are denser and have better colour saturation. On the other hand, freeze-dried herbs crumble due to their crunchier texture.
The herb identity remains the same after each of these processes. However, the appearance of these products differs significantly. Freeze-drying retains the cell structure due to the sublimation process. However, air-dried herbs have more of a shrivelled appearance due to the involvement of high temperatures.
This is the most important aspect for health watchers. Rest assured that both herb products retain the nutritional value of their natural counterparts. However, freeze-dried herbs tend to have more nutritional value than air-dried ones. Air-dried versions lose some amount of nutrients due to the extremely high temperatures that they are subjected to. Therefore, other than the expected moisture content, heat-sensitive nutrients will also evaporate during air-drying.
The comparatively high moisture content of air-dried herbs gives them a shorter shell life, unlike freeze-dried ones. There is a high chance of microbial growth in air-dried versions. The recommended shelf-life of such products is 18 months or more, while it is 24 months or more for freeze-dried ones.
Which are Better-Air-dried Herbs or Freeze-Dried Herbs?
Well, there is no clear winner on this take. The end-time benefit of each of these products is based on personal preferences. The choice of such preserved herbs is mainly based on the dish, texture, appearance, shelf-life etc.
Get to know more about different types of preserved herbs from the leader of freeze-dried manufacturers in India, Flex Foods.
To know more details, kindly visit https://www.flexfoodsltd.com/