Tray of Various Dog Food ready for freeze drying

Can You Freeze Dry Dog Food to Keep It Fresh?

Yes, you can absolutely freeze dry dog food to help keep it fresh for longer. Freeze drying dog food is an excellent way to extend the shelf life of both wet and dry kibble and provides a few advantages over traditional freezing methods.

The freeze drying process works by freezing food and then removing the ice crystals by sublimation. This removes most of the moisture content, leaving behind a lightweight, dried food product that retains more nutrients compared to conventional freezing. Freeze dried foods can be stored at room temperature for extended periods without deteriorating.

Below we’ll explore the benefits of freeze drying dog food, how to properly freeze dry kibble at home, and some tips for choosing a high-quality commercial freeze dried dog food.

Benefits of Freeze Drying Dog Food

There are several compelling reasons why freeze drying may be the best way to preserve your furry friend’s food and keep it tasting fresh and nutritious for as long as possible:

Extends Shelf Life

The extremely low moisture content of freeze dried food prevents spoilage and bacterial growth. Properly freeze dried dog food can last between 3-5 years stored at room temperature. This is significantly longer than the 6-12 month shelf life of kibble stored traditionally.

Retains Nutritional Value

Unlike typical freezing which can damage vitamins, minerals and antioxidants in dog food over time, freeze drying locks in nutrients. This allows your dog to get the full nutritional benefit of the food regardless of how long ago it was processed.

Maintains Flavor and Texture

In addition to preserving nutritional content, freeze drying also maintains the original taste, aroma, shape and texture of the food. Your dog is sure to gobble up food just as delicious as the day you bought it.

Lightweight and Portable

The removal of almost all moisture makes freeze dried food extremely lightweight. This makes it easy to transport and convenient for travel or outdoor adventures with your pup. Rehydrating with water allows the food to return to its original form.

No Refrigeration Needed

Storing freeze dried food at room temperature eliminates the need for refrigeration or freezing. You don’t have to worry about repeatedly thawing and refreezing. This saves energy and provides long-term convenience.

Better Than Canning

While canning can also extend shelf life, it requires high heat that damages the nutritional content of food. Freeze drying preserves all nutrients making it a superior process for maintaining nutritional integrity.

How to Freeze Dry Dog Food at Home

If you want to freeze dry your dog’s food at home, this process requires specific equipment and care. Here are some key steps to follow:

Purchase a Freeze Dryer Machine

You’ll need a commercial grade freeze dryer machine which offers precise temperature and pressure control. Look for one designed for home use with trays or containers to hold food. Expect to spend $1,000 to $3,000 or more for a quality home unit.

Prepare Food in Small Batches

Only process small batches of food at a time, about 1-2 pounds. Cut or break food into smaller pieces so it freeze dries evenly. Place food in a single thin layer on trays.

Freeze First

Load trays of food into the freeze dryer and pre-freeze at -40oF or below. Freezing food solid prior to drying prevents uneven sublimation.

Dry Under Controlled Conditions

Turn on the vacuum pump and heating coils to begin the drying stage. This should occur at precise temperatures and pressures over 12-48 hours to safely sublimate moisture from the frozen state.

Proper Storage

When drying is complete, immediately store the freeze dried food in air-tight, moisture-proof containers. Store in a cool, dark place to maximize shelf life.

Reconstitute Before Serving

When ready to serve, rehydrate the food with water until it regains its original texture. Let it sit 5-10 minutes before feeding to your dog.

Be very cautious when DIY freeze drying. Improper temperatures and pressures can make food unsafe. Consulting an experienced freeze dry professional is recommended.

Choosing a Commercial Freeze Dried Dog Food

For most dog parents, purchasing a commercial freeze dried dog food is the easiest and safest option. Here’s what to look for when selecting a brand:

  • Fruits and Vegetables: Choose brands incorporating antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies to mirror a dog’s natural diet. These provide essential vitamins and minerals.

  • No Fillers or By-Products: Avoid brands with meat by-products, corn, soy, wheat, artificial preservatives or other fillers. These offer less nutritional value.

  • Natural Fat and Fiber: Ingredients like flaxseed, pumpkin and coconut provide natural sources of fat and fiber for energy and digestion.

  • Probiotics: Probiotic cultures support healthy gut flora and aid digestion. Look for freeze dried foods listing specific strains like Enterococcus faecium.

  • Manufacturing Transparency: Seek brands manufactured in the USA in FDA-audited, SQF-certified facilities under stringent standards.

Reputable brands like Primal, Stella & Chewy’s and Sojos use quality ingredients and are completely transparent about their sourcing and production processes. Review freeze dried recipes to find one tailored to your dog’s dietary needs and preferences.

Frequently Asked Questions

Still have some questions about freeze drying dog food? Here are answers to some common queries:

How long does freeze dried dog food last?

Unopened freeze dried food can last 2-5 years at room temperature. Once opened, it will last up to one year properly stored in the pantry.

Is it safe to freeze dry wet dog food?

Yes, freeze drying canned or raw dog food is completely safe. It stops bacterial growth just like with dry kibble.

Can you rehydrate freeze dried food and then freeze it again?

It’s best to avoid refreezing reconstituted food to prevent quality loss. Enjoy any leftovers within a few days.

What is the cost of freeze dried dog food?

Expect to pay $2-$5 per pound. More than kibble but less than fresh raw food. Significant savings from reducing waste can offset the higher upfront cost over time.

Is it better to freeze dry food at home or buy commercial?

For safety and convenience, commercial is recommended for most dog parents. But using a home freeze dryer allows customizing with your dog's favorite recipes.

Give Freeze Dried Food a Try

If you’re looking for a convenient way to make your dog's food last longer while maintaining its wholesome nutritional content, then freeze drying is an excellent option. Allowing kibble to be stored at room temperature for years without spoiling provides long-term simplicity. And the lightweight portability is great for travel and adventures with your furry pal. Consider switching to freeze dried food today so you can feel confident your dog is getting the freshest, healthiest meal at every mealtime.

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