What Is In That Can of Freeze Dried Food?

Gaye Levy Gaye Levy  |  Updated: December 16, 2020
What Is In That Can of Freeze Dried Food?

Something that has been troubling me lately is rumor that some freeze dried products are produced from ingredients that are sourced in countries whose standards of wholesomeness and cleanliness are less than what we are accustomed to in North America.

As I rebuild my own food storage from scratch, this has become a major consideration. Do I want my precious food storage to come from China where standards of sanitation and quality in food processing are lax?  I think not.

What is in that can of freeze dried food? | Backdoor Survival

Don’t get me wrong.  Not all countries have lax standards and as soon as I can verify my research, I will let you know who is on the “A” list and who is not.  In the meantime, however, I have reached out to a few prominent freeze dried food companies for an official statement on food sourcing.

First up is Mountain House.

What Is In That Can of Freeze Dried Food?

How does Mountain House source the raw ingredients in its food storage products?

“We try to source from the United States whenever possible, and the majority of our ingredients are from the USA.

When it is not possible, we only source from the highest quality producers and have stringent, safety, quality and documentation requirements. Sometimes we are not able to source certain fruits or vegetables from the United States due to the fact that they might not be in-season in the Northern Hemisphere. Our facilities are also USDA and SQF II certified.”

SQF II? What is that?

SQF II stands for Safe Quality Food Level II certification. What it means is that we have documented processes and controls to ensure that our food remains safe and of high quality. It is an industry standard certification kind of like ISO 9001 for other industries if you’re familiar with that.

It is required if you want to work with the large national food companies and retailers. They won’t do business with you if you’re not SQF certified.  Also, please know that we are regularly audited by independent third parties to ensure we maintain compliance.

Do you have anything else you would like share about your sourcing process?

We source from highly qualified vendors that me our stringent technical and safety requirements. I’ll give you an example.

When we do strawberries we use a specific variety that can only be grown in a certain area here in the US.  The demand still exists when they are not in season up here. So, we have a qualified vendor in South America who grows them in the only other place in the world where these strawberries can grow and meet our technical specifications.

That vendor happens to be right at the same parallel (latitude) but in the Southern Hemisphere instead of the Northern one where we are, and they have the exact same environmental conditions required to grow the strawberries the way we want them. That way we can get strawberries in the winter and the summer. We regularly visit our vendors and ensure that their practices are up to our very high standard.

We will reject shipments of raw ingredients from vendors we’ve used for years if that specific lot doesn’t meet our specs or if safety is a concern. If they do this repeatedly we find a new vendor. Obviously, we take food safety as a major concern. Every raw material is checked for microbial activity before we cook with it and then again after it’s been made into a meal.

This kind of strict quality control is pretty expensive.

The Mountain House Multi-Day Kits

While chatting with Kenny Larson, my contact at OFD (the parent company of Mountain House), he mentioned their new, multi-day emergency food supply kits.  Each kit includes enough food to feed one person from two to five days.  The kits are packaged in a stackable box sized so that it will fit in a small closet, pantry or even under a bed.

These kits are perfect for someone just getting started with freeze-dried food storage. or as a supplement to bulk and canned foods.  The nice thing is that the emergency meals in these kits can be prepared by simply pouring hot water in a pouch, waiting eight to ten minutes, and eating.

The Giveaway

Would you like win a Mountain House 3-Day Emergency Food Kit?  I have one available to give away to a lucky Backdoor Survival reader.  You know the drill; here is the Rafflecopter that you will use to enter this giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The deadline is 6:00 PM Pacific next Tuesday with the winner notified by email and announced on the Rafflecopter in the article.  Please note that the winner must claim their prize within 48 hours or an alternate will be selected.

Get a $20 Rebate

Interested in getting a rebate?

You can get $20 back when you purchase a minimum of 5 days worth of Mountain House Multi-Day Emergency Food Supply Kits from any Mountain House dealer. A single 5-Day Kit or a combo of 2-Day, 3-Day, and/or 4-Day Kits will qualify.  Here is a link:  $20 Mountain House Rebate Offer.

The Final Word

Freeze dried food is expensive so it pays to know what you are getting. In most cases, you will get what you pay for after weighing in on all factors including weight, calories, price plus shipping, and quality,

As I continue my investigation, I promise to report back with a response from the other leading freeze dried food companies.  How they respond and if they respond, should provide us with the knowledge we need to make well-informed purchase decisions.  Until then, the jury is out.

Enjoy your next adventure through common sense and thoughtful preparation!

If you enjoyed this article, consider subscribing to email updates.  When you do, you will receive a free, downloadable copy of my e-Book, The Emergency Food Buyer’s Guide.

You can also vote for Backdoor Survival daily at Top Prepper Websites!

Spotlight Item: Mountain House Just-In Case… 3 Day Emergency Food Supply


This stack-able 3-day boxed kit contains a variety of popular breakfast, lunch, and dinner entrees for one person. Use it alone or combine it with our Just in Case 4 Day Emergency Food Supply Kits for 1 week of food. Each box is compact making it easy to store anywhere you have room.

I carry my portable survival kit whenever I leave the house.  The nice thing about it is that it fits neatly in a pocket, day pack, glove box, or handbag.  If you are interested in more details or need assistance building your own kit, see 8 Essential Items: The Perfect Portable Survival Kit.

In the meantime, here are some items you should consider carrying with you as you travel near and afar.

BIC Classic Lighters (12): A dozen full size BIC lighters at a bargain price with free shipping. Don’t forget to test them to ensure they work!

Paracord Lanyard:  I prefer a paracord lanyard over a bracelet because I can use it’s clip to attach my whistle as well as other items that I may want to add from time to time such as a second flashlight, a Swiss army knife, pepper spray, or a flash drive (thumb drive).

Blocklite Ultra Bright 9V LED Flashlight: One of my readers (James) claimed that these work great. So I bought one. Then I bought another.  All told, I have 8 of these spread out in drawers, in my emergency kits, the car, everywhere.

Kershaw OSO Sweet Knife: This “oh so sweet” knife is solidly built, stainless steel knife that comes razor sharp right out of the package. It will pretty much cut through anything the price is amazing.

Windstorm Safety Whistle: This particular whistle can be heard a long distance away and above howling wind and other competing sounds.  I love my cheapie whistles but this is the one I would depend on for wilderness survival.

Lavender Essential Oil:  This is the Swiss army knife of essential oils. My favorite lavender oil is from Spark Naturals.  Enjoy a 10% discount with code BACKDOORSURVIVAL.

Rectangular Tin with Window: Chances are you have something similar already that can be repurposed for free.

LifeStraw Personal Water Filter:  Too large for a pocket kit but important to have with you is the Lifestraw Personal Water Filter.  At only 2 ounces (in weight), the LifeStraw is suitable for a backpack or bug out bag.  It is easy to use and requires no chemicals to remove a  minimum of 99.9999% of waterborne bacteria.



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103 Responses to “What Is In That Can of Freeze Dried Food?”

  1. I’ve never tried any pre-packaged survival food, and I like what I read about theirs. Thanks for a chance at winning the 3-day supply. Enjoy your blog and appreciate what you share. Thank you.

  2. I’m curious: how does the cooking-freeze-drying process affect the vitamin and nutritional content of your food?

  3. With Thanksgiving upon us and all the leftovers, how much of that can be freeze dried? For example, I love pumpkin pie, but my two sons and husband do not. I can eat a slice of pie a day for 3-4 days max, then I’m satisfied til Christmas. So, half a pie left that will go to waste. Can you freeze dry pies like that or is there a limit like with canning (no dairy, no pasta, etc.)?

    • I have a similar problem. My solution has been to have small baking dishes and make individual pies from a recipe, then freeze them until I want one. Can’t help you about the freeze drying, just the freezing. 😉

  4. I’d love to try freeze dried food. My question is, do vitamins remain unaltered in the process? Does freeze dried food have enough nutritional value to sustain you for a relatively long period of time? Thank you, Dani.

    • The vit. and nutritional value is not supposed to change with freeze dried as it does with dehydrated.

  5. I would love to get some of these prepackaged freeze dried meals, but as you said they are expensive. Thanks for researching them, I look forward to leaning more.

  6. How adversely does changes in temperature affect freeze dried food? For example long term temperature extremes or or going back and forth in the extremes – going from high heat to almost freezing back to high heat again. Like what you might get if it were stored in a backpack in a car.

    • The Mountain House pouches are designed to be rehydrated in package and eaten from there. In fact, the only FD meal I’ve eaten was a MH Beef Stroganoff that I rehydrated with boiling water (per the directions), and it was darned tasty. My wife didn’t agree, but she and I rarely agree on food. 😉 So I have other entrees for her.
      But I have no idea about the #10 cans, since that’s a LOT of food at once. I suspect you need to rehydrate it in another container, but a few quick searches didn’t turn up any hard answers.

    • yes, the #10 cans you have to rehydrate it in another container. I have purchased a lot of #10 Cans.

  7. Do you have alternative meals or emergency kits for people who are vegetarians or vegan? Also, most prepared meals and kits are very high in sodium. Are there alternatives there as well.

  8. Living in a hot climate for most of the year, I wonder if there are any “TRICKS” for keeping storage food cooler!!! Not an easy task. Love Mountain House and wish I had more. Thanks Gaye!

    • Heat has been my concern with freeze dried food, too. I want to store more, but I am afraid it will be wasted if it can’t take heat.

  9. I love salt, but some FD and packaged “meals” have SO much salt that I am not able to eat very many of them in my normal food rotation or a week-long camping trip. Are there entree versions with a little less salt?

  10. Would love to win the kit. It would give me the opportunity to see/taste, so I’d know if I wanted to spend the money on a kit.

  11. Would your freeze dried pouches hold up well in a vehicle during a Mid West sub zero winter? My concern is if temperature would have a negative effect. Thank you

  12. How would said freeze-dried foods hold up in extreme temperature fluctuations (i.e. in my car), since it’s well below zero in the winter here and gets into the 100’s in the summer?

  13. Can I cook directly in the bag by adding boiling water or do I need to have access to cookware to place the ingredients in?

  14. honestly, Mountain House has the best taste consistently throughout all their products. Other companies have maybe one item that is really good but other items, starving street dogs in Panama won’t even eat (this is the truth, from my own experience!)

  15. My question to the companies would be: has there been ongoing research into reducing the amount of sodium as a preservative to increase shelf-life? Although sodium is a necessary evil, it may adversely affect long-term survival rates if these types of meals were eaten in abundance (and some folks have stocked a plethora of these meals).

  16. I’ve read that people are supposed to eat a certain amount of calories to stay fit and alive. My question to the company(ies) is: How do you base the amount (of calories?) for each of the meal packets for each person it’s supposed to feed? Reason I ask is I got a packet of MH from one of my sons (he thought he was being funny). The packet said it was for two people but I was surprised how little food there was in the packet. Even after I followed the instructions, it really didn’t seem to be a lot for two adult people.

  17. Freeze dried sux. I wish it could be said a better way, but it can’t. Why does everyone look for the easy way out? MREs are beyond sux. Why not purchase a good quality dehydrator that hold nine trays or more, then purchase your own veggies and do your own thing? Store in mason jars or mylar along with an oxygen absorber, then secure in a cool, dry, and dark place, and you’ve got food that will not spoil for at least a decade. I’ve eaten freeze dried, if you can call that eating, and there is no comparison to dehydrating your own. We also ‘can’ chili in jars along with the beans in separate jars and is nothing short of delicious. Of course this takes work and planning and I’m just wasting my time so goodbye and thanks for your time. PS: This article is nothing short of an advertisement for suckers.

    • Have you tried diesel in your gasoline car? Both are “fuel”!
      I’ve tried “Backpackers Pantry” and will not buy it again. But…
      Go to WallyWorld and buy a single packet of Mountain House Lasagna, prepare it by the instructions (not hard to do) and give it a try. I’ve gotten a lot worse from restaurants!
      Yes, Mountain House is a commercial company…they have to make a profit on their sales…is “profit” a crime?
      The alternative you offer?
      One or two thousand for a “quality” dehydrator. Possibly a building to put it in. Purchase the food and hope you get it all processed before it spoils. And hope you haven’t done anything wrong that is going to poison you in the future when you eat the food.

    • It also will not last for 20+ years like MREs do. Mtn House Beef Stroganoff is pretty amazing! Especially when on a long hike or camping trip!

  18. How old is the freeze dried meal when we receive it? In other words what amount of time occurs between manufacture of the freeze dried meal to when it is available for sale? What is the average time from manufacturer to customer?
    Would love to try these. Thanks.

  19. I wonder why there are not more selections of meals that are organic and/or gmo free and/or gluten free. Any one of these would be good, but I’m not going to buy a significant amount of freeze dried meals unless they meet all three.

    • An honest answer to your question is that the percentage of people that demand GMO free or organic is much smaller than the people that don’t care. I don’t know of any company that does true GMO free storage food. You don’t need to buy from them but you need to store food somehow. I seriously doubt you will be anywhere near as picky after you have gone a couple of days without eating.JMHO

  20. I have established goals for 2016. With that being said, I am formulating a schedule to purchase freeze-dried products. I am making monthly menus using freeze-dried food. Then correlating that with purchases within my “set” budget for each month. Hopefully this will reduce error on buying products that we usually do not eat. Thus, allowing for more purchases of things we eat and not waste money on those things we do not.

  21. I too would ask ” When can we get non GMO freeze dried meals”? In addition to the great selection of meals already available, Is it possible to freeze dry a meat such as hamburger in a meatloaf variety to pair with the freeze dried mashed potatoes? That would be an interesting meal combo.

    • I have not tried it, but apparently the FD meals made for Infowars are Non-GMO, and around $1 per serving.

  22. I am concerned about the source of the food used is It organic, GMO free, pesticide free, hormone free, Eric. I have asked this question of many companies and no one will answer me.

  23. The only time that I have tried FD foods was in the ’70’s. It was Mountain House and produced copious amounts of intestinal gas.Does MH food still do that and is it a common side effect of all FD foods?

  24. I’m also concerned about the salt in any emergency food. I tried one food pouch last month and it was almost inedible, it was way too salty (and it was a major brand). Would you consider cutting down on the salt in your emergency foods? It’s probably the easiest ingredient to leave out really.

  25. For long term storage, should freeze-dried food pouches be stored in buckets with oxygen absorbers or can they stay in the box they come in?

    • they can stay in the box they come in. The packs of food are sealed plus the box that they come in are sealed as well.

  26. I like the fact that the smaller package allows people to try several varieties without a major investment in money, so would love to win this. My question would be is the nutritional information available in the package? Thanks.

  27. I’ve never tried anything freeze dried except coffee. This sounds like a great opportunity to try. Thanks for all your exhaustive work in so many areas.

  28. I just did a deployment to SC for the floods with the Red Cross as a ERV driver. I have a few Heater Meals for the Apocalypse that expire Dec. 5, 2015. If you see me eating one, you know the end is near …..

  29. Small size is wonderful for small family. (Or bugging out….:) ) When I have several buckets saved up can I open them and consolidate the contents without affecting the quality of the product that was formerly sealed?

  30. They make a kit? I’d love to try one. Getting 4 or 5 of these will be a big help in jump starting my stash of freeze dried food. Thanks for the chance..

  31. Try northbaytrading for excellent freeze dried food variety .. 100% non-gmo and many of the foods are organic. Foods come in foil packaging, not a can that possibly contains BPA. Love this place!

  32. First, a note. We are deathly allergic to cheese and most of its off-fall products. We mention our condition, because almost all commercial, FD, pre-pack survival meals we have checked out have cheese as a prime component, or like other packaged foods “Whey or Cheese Solids” are used as a filler to bulk up the product making it look like the consumer is getting more for their money than they really are!!!

    OUR QUESTION: Does Mountain Hose use cheap fillers, too?

    O.M. Knutson

  33. I know Mountain House recently changed to 1 serving size pouches. Is this figured for a standard day or the extra energy that would be needed in an emergency situation?

  34. Do you offer a small sampler packet so people can taste some of your different products before buying a large package?

  35. How much does fluctuating temperature affect the food quality and shelf life? Does it stay the same as long as you stay within the high and low recommendations?

  36. I have to wonder – does freeze-drying food affect the nutritional content of different foods? Does it reduce it in anyway? What about when you “rehydrate it”?

  37. Often the manufactured date appears on the products, but there isn’t usually information on the package as to when it expires. Is it possible to also print a “BEST IF USED BY DATE” on the package/can?

  38. We tried a couple of Mountain House meals when Gaye told us in her blog that you could request free samples from the company. Tried them out when we were camping over the summer and we were really surprised at how good everything was! I really was not expecting that. We don’t have the money to stock up on Mountain House meals right now but it is something on my list.

  39. What are some of the new meals you have available? How often do you offer new ones? Do any get discontinued and why?

  40. Is there a reason why you only did Mountain House and no other company? I’ve tried Mountain House and they were good, but I’ve tried other brands and they were too. How about giving some other companies a shot?

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