Monday, March 21, 2016

Product Comparisons - What is the Difference?

What is the Difference?
These are questions I get asked frequently.  What is the difference between freeze dried and dehydrated?  What is the difference between instant and regular?  Is the shelf life different?
When there is more than one option for the same food, which do you choose?
Here are answers for some of the most popular questions concerning food storage items:

In all cases where there is a freeze-dried (FD) product versus a dehydrated one, the freeze-dried product will have a higher concentration of nutrients and flavor, as well as a longer shelf life.  You can learn more here.

Fuji Apples (FD) vs. Granny Smith Apples (FD)
These sliced Fuji Apples have their skins left on and are sweet, just like a fresh Fuji apple--they are great for snacking on or adding to your oatmeal, etc. The sliced Granny Smith Apples have already had their skins peeled and are slightly more tart, just like a fresh Granny Smith apple--these are great for baking or snacking!
Neither of these are comparable to dehydrated apples, which double or triple in size when soaked in water.  Freeze dried foods maintain their original size when rehydrated.

Strawberries (FD) vs. Whole Strawberries (FD)  
You may have guessed it, but the main difference between these two is that one is sliced and the others are left whole. The Whole Strawberries have a reputation of being sweeter than the sliced ones.

Onions vs. Onions (FD)
Both of these onions are chopped and ready to go, but the dehydrated onions will plump up when you rehydrate them; however, they have less flavor when compared to the freeze-dried onions. So, if you need an onion with a bit of bulk, go with the dehydrated ones; if you need an onion more for the flavor, go with the freeze-dried ones. Also, because the dehydrated ones plump up, your can of onions will actually "go farther" than the freeze-dried ones because the freeze-dried ones stay their original size.

Red & Green Bell Peppers vs. Green Bell Peppers (FD) vs. Red Bell Peppers (FD)
The Red & Green Bell Peppers are chopped, dehydrated peppers. They will plump up a bit when you cook with them, and can add great flavor and texture to your meals; I like to add them to salsa and soups. The Green Bell Peppers and the Red Bell Peppers are cut into long slices and have great flavor and cook up really well; however, they are sold individually and not combined in a single can like the dehydrated ones are.

Potato Beads vs. Mashed Potatoes
The Potato Beads are powder pearls used for making mashed potatoes and include milk, salt, and oil. These are occassionally available at the LDS Cannery, as well as other food storage companies, but have been replaced by Thrive Life's Mashed Potatoes. The Mashed Potatoes are flakes of Idaho-grown potatoes and that's the only ingredient. They rehydrate faster, easier, and creamier than the Potato Beads.

Potato Chunks vs. Potato Dices (FD)
The Potato Chunks are dehydrated cubes of potatoes and will plump up when you rehydrate them, though they take about 15-20 minutes of simmering to fully reconstitute. The Potato Dices (FD) are freeze-dried cubes of potatoes that rehydrate in very little time and have more of a fresh-potato flavor than the dehydrated ones. The Potato Chunks and Potato Dices (FD) can be used interchangeably in many recipes and are ultimately the same size, it's mostly a matter of reconstitution time; however, the can ofPotato Chunks will "go farther" because the potatoes are smaller before they plump up, while the Potato Dices (FD) will stay the same size.

Instant White Rice vs. White Rice
The Instant White Rice is already partially prepared and only takes 3-5 mins. to cook at home; however, because they have been partially prepared, there are fewer grains of rice in a can due to their increased size. The White Rice has almost twice as many servings in its can, though it takes about 15 minutes to cook. Personally, I prefer the texture of the non-instant white rice, but instant rice works well for camping.

Hard Red Wheat vs. Hard Winter Wheat
Hard Red Wheat has a higher amount of protein, which yields itself well to rustic, artisan breads with its nutty flavor (though sometimes bitter). Because of its lower, moderate level of protein, Hard Winter Wheat makes softer breads, has a more subtle flavor, and requires less sweeteners in its breads.

Cheese Blend vs. the other FD cheeses
Unlike the other freeze-dried cheeses that are shredded and a single type of cheese in the can, the Cheese Blend is a powder. It is a blend that lends itself well to cheese sauces like you would use in a soup or macaroni.

Instant Milk vs. Powdered Milk
Instant Milk is intended for drinking, though I also use it in stove-top recipes that call for milk. Powdered Milk, on the other hand, is intended for cooking and baking. However, both can be used interchangeably. A #10 can of Instant Milk will make approximately 3.5-5 gallons of milk, depending on how much powder you use. The milks have a 2-year opened shelf life (25 years when unopened), so if you can buy it in the 6-gallon bucket (that will be your best value).

Beans vs. Instant Beans
The non-instant beans are regular dried beans, just packaged for long term storage of 30 years. They need to be prepared as traditional beans are, which takes several hours and a lot of water. The instant beans have a 25-year shelf life and have been par-boiled and dried again before packaging, so they only take 15-20 mins. to cook at home. They appear cracked when you open the can, but once cooked look the same as the non-instant beans. Both cans have pretty much the same number of servings, but the instant beans are about half the weight.

Beef Dices (FD) vs. Roast Beef (FD) 
Both of these meats are cooked and cut. The Beef Dices are about the size of stew meat while the Roast Beef is smaller. They both have salt added to them. These are very versatile and can be used in several recipes, including stroganoff, stew, burritos, fajitas, etc. There is the equivalent of approximately 5 lbs of fresh beef in each can.

Chopped Chicken vs. Seasoned Chicken Slices 
Both of these meats are cooked and cut. Just as the name implies, the Chopped Chicken is chopped, but there are no other ingredients. The Seasoned Chicken Slices have salt added to them and are cut into larger strips. Both of these can be used in a number of recipes, including chicken salad, burritos, fajitas, soups, etc. There is the equivalent of approximately 5 lbs of fresh chicken in each can.

Scrambled Egg Mix vs. Whole Egg Powder  
The Scrambled Egg Mix is still just eggs, but it has a different ratio of egg whites to egg yolks. They make excellent scrambled eggs (and omelets and French toast, etc.), and you can also use them in your baking recipes that call for fresh eggs. They have a longer shelf life (7 years) than the Whole Egg Powder (3 years); however, there are fewer eggs per can because it requires more powder to equal 1 egg than the Whole Egg Powder does. But, the Whole Egg Powder is only intended for baking. The Whole Egg Powder doesn't have an anti-caking agent in them, so your cakes will stay nice and firm.

Don't forget, today is the last day for Thrive Life's March Madness Sale!  Every one of these items listed, (and more) is discounted, up to 50% off!

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