Valley Food Storage has a wide variety of freeze-dried fruits that are excellent for cooking at any time.
Some of you may have read my previous post on smoothies using Valley Food Storage freeze dried fruits. If not, then please take a look at it for more ideas.
I decided to try my hand at using freeze dried fruits to create some desserts. I cannot eat wheat or uncultured dairy products unfortunately so my recipes use things like gluten-free flour and buttermilk, yogurt and gluten-free flour as substitutes. These recipes are versatile enough that you can substitute a lot so that you can meet you or your families unique dietary needs.
This is a classic that I remember well from a lot of family gatherings and holidays. In Southern households, this is a go-to dish for when there is going to be a big crowd or a potluck. While some people do this using completely store-bought ingredients, I am doing this one from scratch. Since I could not find gluten-free vanilla wafers, I am making my own using just the generic grocery store gluten-free sugar cookie mix with some extra vanilla added. Any vanilla cookie cooked to a brittle texture will do. You need something to absorb the delicious custard or pudding that you are going to pour over your dish.
What you need:
1 pk Valley Food Storage Freeze Dried Bananas
Vanilla Wafers or Cookies (Crunchy Not Soft!)
Yogurt or Unflavored Gelatin or Vanilla Pudding Mix
2-3 eggs or egg substitute. Corn Starch is a good thickener for puddings.
A clear dish makes this a very pretty dish to serve. You can even make individual banana puddings in clear jars or cups if you want! This is a good idea if you are trying to control portion sizes or if you want to use disposable cups for easy cleanup and serving.
Putting together the puddings.
This is a layered dessert. First, put a layer of vanilla cookies or crumbs on the bottom of your container. Follow this with a layer of bananas then a layer of cookies and then bananas until you reach a level where you still have enough room for whipped cream or meringue if you plan on adding it. Meringue is traditional but hard to achieve if using cups.
For the custard or pudding
You can just make a big batch of pudding using a premade mix, but a lot of people choose to cook their own custard or pudding from scratch. If you don’t rehydrate the bananas ahead of time, you may want to make yours a little more watery to make up for that in the final product.
I used around a pint of vanilla flavored yogurt and 3 eggs to make a custard. I did add just a little water before adding the eggs and bringing to a boil. You just want to make sure the eggs are cooked. The sugar in the yogurt was enough that I did not feel the need to add any extra sugar to it. I added about a teaspoon of pure vanilla extract.
Refrigerate for a few hours. This stuff stays good for days, and the advantage is that it can be made a day in advance of a gathering, so you don’t have to rush or dirty up your kitchen right as you are headed out the door.
Toppings or variations
There is no reason why you couldn’t do this same dessert using strawberries or blueberries either or you could even use all three fruits for a special treat. At this point, it becomes more of a mixed berry parfait. This is a dessert that you shouldn’t expect to last too long because it is addictive and very satisfying since it combines cookies with fruit and creamy pudding goodness!
Note: I am going to try doing this using corn starch to thicken the pudding instead of eggs. The texture of egg custards and puddings is not the same. If too much egg is used, it can be a little grainy in texture. It is good to have options so that this recipe can be utilized by those with various dietary restrictions.
Strawberry Streusel Bread
Here is a recipe that caught my eye because it can be used to produce a delicious dessert bread and spread using any fruit or you could even combine several of your favorite Valley Food Storage Freeze Dried Fruits
Note: This is a very calorie dense recipe and high in sugar.
This recipe makes 2 8 inch x 4-inch loaf pans. Halve the recipe if you think this is too much for your household size.
1 pkg Valley Food Storage Freeze Dried Strawberries Rehydrated with 2 cups water
2 cup light brown sugar
2 sticks butter
4 large eggs or 5 medium
2 tsp baking powder
2-2 1/2 tsp salt
Sprinkle of cinnamon and a dash of lemon juice
For the streusel topping:
2 sticks of butter
2 cups flour
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup of sliced almonds, walnuts, etc. This is optional.
Cinnamon to taste
Mix the sugar, flour, salt, baking powder, and cinnamon in a bowl and set aside. Combine butter and eggs and mix well. Add in the strawberries and then slowly add dry ingredients. Stir until well combined and pour into greased pans.
Mix the streusel topping in a small separate bowl. You want it to be crumbly. Just make sure to add the nuts to the mix last.
Press the streusel topping lightly on to the top of the batter. Bake at 300 degrees until a toothpick in the center comes out clean. This can take awhile. Plan on at least 70 minutes of bake time but it may be more if your strawberries are too wet.
To make a fruit butter topping (I did not do this as it would be too sweet for me! Plain cream cheese is plenty if I want to dress this bread up more.)
Combine 1 stick of butter or 4 oz of cream cheese with 1/2 cup of freeze-dried fruit in a mixer, blender, etc. You could crush the freeze-dried fruit in a mortar and pestle if you have to. Add in 1/4 cup confectioners sugar and blend well. Use this as a delicious sweet spread for bread or crackers. It is a great alternative to the expensive prepackaged flavored cream cheeses and allows you to make it just as sweet or fruity as you desire. Just remember to maintain the spreadability of it by not adding too much very thick or solid ingredients. On the other hand, if you used honey for sweetener, you would want to add some more solids to maintain a good texture.
Basic Mixed Freeze Dried Fruit Pie
The beauty of freeze-dried fruit is that it reconstitutes beautifully, so it is easy to work with. This means you can just add some liquid either before or during cooking and go with it.
For the filling, consider the following ingredients
Knox Unflavored Gelatin
Reconstitute, mix and let chill. If using gelatin then you should follow the directions and heat the fruit and gelatin together.
Top your pie with whatever you like, Cream Fraiche, whipped cream, ice cream, whipped cream, etc. You can also do this with meringue on top if you like. The gelatin can be helpful if you want to thicken your pie and make your fruit go a bit further. Gelatin is also good for those that do not want to use enough sugar to thicken their pie’s. I try to keep the sugar low sometimes myself.
As far as crust goes, you could use butter and graham crackers or just use flour, butter, salt, and a little cold water. About 2 cups of flour, a stick of butter, a dash of salt, and enough water to make a dough is my basic go-to recipe. I usually try to top the pie with something else to avoid too much bread.
This is just one post, and my husband and neighbors can only eat so many desserts, but I did not want to leave you without mentioning some other ideas for utilizing Valley Food Storage Freeze dried fruits.
Strawberry Short Cake
I am going to do this one sometime. I just need to make sure to add enough liquid or reconstitute the strawberries with some simple syrup (sugar and water) or water and honey!
Freeze dried fruits are so good for adding to bread. While fruit bread may like the strawberry streusel bread are dessert like, you can make changes so that they are healthier or meet your dietary requirements.
Any freeze dried fruit can make an excellent pie. Pie is so versatile and always a crowd pleaser. Plus you can make pies well in advance, so it helps with your time management.
Oh my, the cookie combinations that you can create here are endless! Just use some lightly smashed freeze-dried fruit pieces in your favorite cookie mix. Just remember to account for dryness by adding a bit of extra water. I recommend adding no more than half the amount of water recommended by Valley when baking. It is really easy to overcompensate in baking, and that can lead to trouble.
Pancakes, Waffles, and Crepes
While these are considered breakfast, they can be made decadent enough to be considered dessert, especially when combined with chocolate chips or shavings and some rehydrated freeze-dried fruit. You could also add some freeze-dried blueberries to all that pancake mix you have put back for SHTF and have something that is much better than the fake blueberries that are in most of the mixes out there. I know that during an emergency you will eat what you have to, but I don’t like how all the mixes out there including oatmeals that are flavored, have artificial fruit pieces. These are just cheap filler with no nutritional benefit.
Real fruit has antioxidants and fiber. There is a reason these mixes are so cheap sometimes. The truth is that you might just be better off getting a bucket of Augason Farms pancake mix and adding a little freeze dried fruit when you want a different flavor experience. It can get rough eating the same thing over and over during good times, but during hard times like a disaster or SHTF situation, variety can help with morale.
In the mountains of North Carolina, Apple Stack Cake is a classic. This comes from the fact that this is apple country and it is also a place where you can find apple trees just growing wild and gather them. Drying apples used to be one of the only ways to have apple pie when you wanted it. To those of us that grew up in the days of canning jars and easy to use stovetops, the concept of food storage and putting back is a bit different. Apples were traditionally sliced and dried for the winter. They would get very brown as lemon juice was not something sold in giant jugs at the little local country store and besides that, it would cost a bit!
The fruit Valley sent me got me to think about my Mamaw’s apple stack cake. She just used applesauce when she got older, but that tradition comes from that old log cabin way of doing things that were part of her upbringing. Mamaw was born in a cabin in Blue Ridge Georgia and had to raise a lot of her siblings. She was the oldest girl. This happened a lot in Scotch Irish Families. She had to cook a lot as a result.
Apple stack cake is a series of layers of thin cakes with an applesauce in between each layer and poured on top. Mamaw used 4 9″ cake pans and typically made a yellow cake. There is no reason my the apple stack cake recipe could not be changed for other fruits too! You could also use vanilla or yellow cake or even chocolate if you want to use strawberries or raspberries for layering or to make a sauce. This keeps good in the fridge for days if you can manage to make it last that long!
I was sent a pack of freeze-dried apples. I tasted one before making this pie. They are a red apple variety, but I am not sure which one. I imagine the apples Valley Food Storage sent are Red Delicious since those are the most common commercial apple. The flavor is great but not as sweet as you would imagine a freeze-dried apple would be.
For the crust, I used about 2 cups of Bob’s Red Mill 1-1 Gluten-Free Baking Flour, 1 softened stick of butter, a teaspoon of salt, and enough water to make a pliable dough for a crust. I pressed this into a slightly oiled pie pan and then topped with a little brown sugar. I baked it at 350 degrees for 10 minutes and took out of the oven before filling.
For the filling:
To make my pie, I rehydrated a full package of Valley Food Storage Freeze Dried Apples using 3 cups of water. After 10 minutes there was still a lot of water that had not been absorbed. I put the apples in a pot with cinnamon and 2 loosely packed cups of brown sugar. I added a squirt of lemon juice and some vanilla and allowed it to cook down until slightly thickened.
The filling was a bit runny still when I put it in the crust, but I topped it with some oats rather than more pastry. This makes a lower calorie pie and cuts down on eating too much bread.
It turned out pretty good, but it did take an entire package of freeze-dried apples to make a single 9-inch pie so while it would be a great treat if you were in an emergency situation, it is not an inexpensive dessert.
Sometimes we get a little silly with all the pictures required for this blog. You have to take a lot of pictures to get a good one of me so here is one that normally I wouldn’t post, but you got to have a little humor sometimes huh?
What recipes have you tried with freeze-dried foods? The quality is good, but desserts seem like they would have to be a rare treat in a major survival situation or you would run out of fruit pretty quick!
For those that want to get some quality Valley Freeze Dried Fruit for their food stash, they offer a wide variety of buckets, variety packs, and bulk discount pricing. Backdoor Survival readers are eligible for an exclusive 10% discount using promo code BDS10 at checkout.
Samantha Biggers can be reached at email@example.com