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During an emergency or survival situation, having some fruit can be nice.
Recently I was sent a variety of Valley Food Storage Freeze Dried Fruits to test out. For this test, I made smoothies over the course of several months. Recipes are included further on so you can try out some of my favorites.
Overall I was pleasantly surprised regarding quality and flavor.
Resealable 25 Year Mylar Bag
While I appreciate that the bags are resealable, most families are big enough that food is going to get eaten quickly.
Moisture absorber packet in the bag
Although Valley says to remove the moisture absorber packet after you open the bag, I say leave it in there if you think it might take you a bit of time to eat everything in the bag. I tried to leave it out, and I guess I let some moisture get in a bag by not resealing as well as I should have and I forgot to use up the fruit quickly. After a week the strawberry slices were a bit chewy.
I do like that Valley Food Storage has a good variety of fruits available and you can pick and choose which ones you want. For example, they sent me a lot of bananas and strawberries, so it is clear that was intended as the base for a lot of smoothies. If you want a mix of fruits, they have special fruit buckets that you can buy and put back. You get a variety in a sealed food grade bucket, but then your food is sealed in those 25-year mylar bags, so you got a lot of protection from environmental effects, insects, and pests.
Flavor quality varied by the fruit variety
Overall I think the freeze dried fruits have a great flavor. The texture of the bananas takes some getting used to, and they stick to your teeth a lot when just snacking on them.
The pineapple and peaches were my least favorite. The flavor just didn’t come through well. I guess some fruits just freeze dry better than others.
The freeze-dried strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries had a great flavor and texture.
Coconut Milk Bites
I was sent a single bag of freeze-dried coconut milk bites, and I was surprised how much Matt and I both liked them. We generally don’t like a lot of coconut flavor in anything at all. These are very concentrated little bites. Just a sprinkle of these across the top of your blender when making a smoothie is all you need for a lot of flavor.
I found myself enjoying the flavor that the coconut milk bites offered. Since I have to eat cultured dairy products only, I drink Almond or Cashew Milk blends, so it was neat to find another milk that I found tolerable.
We make our own yogurt, so that is usually our main base for smoothies. To find out how to make your own yogurt and save 70% on the retail cost of buying it premade, check out my past post “How To Make Yogurt & Yogurt Cheese.”
Other good bases for smoothies include juices and milk that is either dairy, nut, or soy based. It can be fun to combine several bases for a more complex flavor profile and nutrition. I sometimes use mango puree for a different twist. It is high-quality stuff, and it keeps well on top of costing less than buying mangoes.
Dried Fruit In A Blender
I have a very inexpensive blender, and mine blended the freeze-dried fruit bits easily, so you don’t have to worry about your blender having to work too hard. The bananas were the hardest fruit to blend, but they quickly mix in and thicken up smoothies a lot. If you get one too thin then just add a few more banana slices and blend until you get the thickness you want.
I recommend adding at least some liquid even if it is thick like yogurt. The dried fruit is going to make it considerably thicker, so some juice or even water may be recommended. Some people like their smoothies thicker than others.
8 0z yogurt
Optional: A few ice cubes or a dash of juice or water to adjust the thickness of the smoothie.
The Whole Kitchen Sink Smoothie for 2
This is the smoothie to make when you want something like fruit punch, and you are making breakfast for 2!
16 0z yogurt
5-6 ice cubes or a dash of juice or water to adjust the thickness of the smoothie. This is a personal preference. Adding mango puree or orange juice can be good.
The fruit has a good color to it and blends well even with my cheap blender!
Blueberry Banana Smoothie w/Hint Of Coconut For 2
I like this smoothie recipe because it offers a nice sweet flavor that balances out the coconut. If you prefer a little less sweet, then add some extra ice, water, or another nonsweet add-in.
16 0z yogurt
1/2 cup Valley Food Storage Freeze Dried Bananas
1/2 cup Valley Food Storage Freeze Dried Blueberries
1/4 cup Valley Food Storage Freeze Dried Coconut Bites
5-6 ice cubes or a dash of juice or water to adjust the thickness of the smoothie. This is a personal preference.
Calorie count is low in freeze-dried fruit
Anything freeze dried is going to be more than a lot of other rations. In the case of freeze-dried fruit, you are dealing with a very high cost per serving. These foods are meant to provide flavor and variety to higher calorie base foods like flours, meats, nuts, grains, etc.
Here is a breakdown of how many calories are in an entire bag versus the current cost.
Calories Current Cost On Valley Food Storage Website on 8/23/18
Raspberries 1350 $12.95
Strawberries 225 $9.99
Bananas 525 $11.49
Pineapple 600 $14.00
Blueberries 225 $14.00
Coconut Milk Bites 720 $27.99
Peaches 225 $10.49
Valley Food Storage also offers bulk discounts on cases of freeze-dried fruit. This is currently set at 10% which can add up when you are stocking up for the long term.
The freeze-dried fruit was enjoyable and great to eat, but in a survival situation, it just doesn’t pack the calories in there that are necessary. I was not impressed with the number of nutrients in the fruit according to the nutritional profile. It seems like there would be more there.
While I love having the flavor and texture of fruit, this is some expensive food luxury to have around in a survival situation. Considering that you have to make careful choices with how you spend your prepping dollars, I would recommend spending your freeze dried food dollars on entree items that are calorie dense first and then add things like freeze-dried fruit in for variety.
Valley has a lot of delicious entree selections and foods that are suitable for a variety of dietary needs. I cannot eat dairy that has not been cultured first or wheat so I know a few things about how hard it can be to find food that is free of such common ingredients.
Let’s face it the fact that most people are not going to want to live on bland base foods like rice and beans. A handful of freeze-dried fruit in your granola or cream of wheat can make it a lot tastier and enjoyable.
Freeze dried preserves flavor so you can enjoy fruits outside of their peak season.
Even living in the South, there are times in the winter where it is almost impossible to get great tasting fruit. More than once I have paid a lot for fruit that was tasteless. I have learned that some things you just don’t buy a certain time of year. The freeze-dried fruits seem to keep a good flavor that you can enjoy any time of the year.
Using combinations of fresh and freeze-dried fruit helps fill in the gaps.
Sometimes you may have some fresh fruit or veggies to add to your smoothies, but you may want to add in something else that is not easy to get in your area or a certain time of year. I used some fresh blueberries at times instead of my freeze dried ones because we have a bunch of bushes.
Veggies In Smoothies
I know a lot of people use vegetables and their juices in smoothies. Since I was just testing fruit and coconut milk bites, I didn’ t get into trying vegetables with the fruit because I wanted to be able to taste the fruit without as much competition so I could give a better review of what I was sent. Here are a few veggies and juices that are common in smoothies.
All of these veggies can also be bought dehydrated or freeze-dried and used in smoothies. Dehydrated veggies need a little bit of time to soak in liquid while freeze-dried can just have a little water or other liquid added and they taste better. Of course part of the year you can get some great fresh veggies or grow your own.
For a protein boost and some extra fat, peanut butter is great in a smoothie. Just remember that it thickens things up a lot so balance it out with more liquid. Valley Food Storage also offers dried peanut powder in their classic mylar bag! This is a very affordable addition, and for extra sweetness, you can add in a little jelly or jam!
Remote locations would be a lot nicer with fruit like this!
The world is a big place and I can see how having freeze-dried fruits would be comforting if you have to live and work at a remote site, especially where fresh supplies are limited or extremely expensive.
Freeze dried fruits for weight loss and better health
I have to say that getting this box of freeze-dried fruit in the mail helped me improve my diet and eating habits some regarding not eating too much. Smoothies in the morning were enough that I was not hungry for a lot of the day. I lost about 7 lbs over a few weeks. While I know that losing too much weight in a survival situation is not a great thing, I also think a lot of us would benefit from a health perspective if we lost a few pounds on and got in better shape for any coming catastrophes, events, or turmoil.
The freeze drying process is expensive to do, and at home, units are just too much money and time for a lot of people.
I hear people mention the expense of freeze-dried food a lot, but they don’t seem to understand exactly why it is. First of all, it takes investing in some serious equipment. Even at home units cost $2,000 roughly, and then you have to buy food and cut it into pieces. After that, you still need to allow the freeze dryer to do its thing and that means paying for electricity while taking up space in your kitchen or back room. I have a small kitchen, so I have to be picky about what accessories and machines I buy and make sure it is something I will use often!
Packaging is not an insignificant cost. Mylar bags and a method of sealing them plus an absorber all add to the cost and time it takes to offer freeze-dried food.
The trade-off is that flavor, and nutritional value is preserved better than if you canned or froze the food. You can fit a lot more in a small space, and most freeze-dried products can be eaten out of the package or at most need water and a few minutes on the stove.
Freeze dried is convenient and helpful for those that have trouble lifting heavy food items or want to be able to fix a little of something and reseal it, so there is less waste.
Food From Valley Food Storage looks like it does in pictures. No bait and switch sales tactics.
Have you ever looked at survival food in a picture, ordered it, tried to use it, and it looks nothing like the beautiful picture? Well in my experience Valley Foods look like they do in the pictures and they taste good. You are not going to get a package of freeze-dried bananas that are brown as an old boot!
The only trouble I have ever had with Valley is that I think some of the entrees don’t tell you to use the right amount of water but that is not a major deal. I have just learned to use some common sense when rehydrating soups and stews that have beans and harder bits in them.
Valley Food Storage is one of the better survival food companies that are easy to order from and they have good customer service!
Valley Food Storage is a brand that I recommend because they do a good job of offering foods that cater to a variety of different diets. It’s nice that you can pick and choose individual ingredients and combine them the way you want so you get the nutrition you can use and avoid any upsets.
I think that Valley has taken a lot of time to create a product that appeals to those that want something beyond your typical survival ration. I have talked to some people who were not impressed with Valley in the past, so I have encouraged them to try them out again because I think they have made significant improvements regarding quality and variety of specialty diet foods offered.
Have you got any great smoothie recipes to share? I like how they keep you from wanting to eat for a while, and they are manageable for the lactose intolerant, gluten-free diets, and others that have to watch what they eat. For those of you that have tried Valley Food Storage products, what was good and what didn’t live up to your standards?
Be sure to check back later for my post on fall baking with freeze-dried fruit from Valley Food Storage!
Samantha Biggers can be reached at [email protected]