A few weeks ago my family was given the opportunity to taste test a wide variety of freeze dried foods for the first time ever. As we’ve begun to build our food storage, the topic of freeze dried foods has been everywhere. But we were never really interested in them. I figured we could grow and/or can most of the fruits and veggies we would need, and could hunt for meat if necessary, so we never really even considered adding freeze dried foods to our storage.
Plus… for some reason I had this idea in the back of my mind that the stuff would be dry and stale tasting.
So when I was contacted about sampling several THRIVE products, I figured I might as well see for myself what I think! But the real test would be if our kids would like freeze dried foods. I mean, what’s the use of storing up stuff that the little ones will thumb their noses at, right?
When my products arrived, I put together a little taste testing party and invited a friend to join us so that I could get another person’s unbiased opinion of the foods. I took lots of photos so you can see what everything looked like. I also decided it would be fun to video tape the kids as they tried each item as well. I figured, nobody is more honest than a child, and with my three guinea pigs being ages 8, 5, and 2, I’d be able to get a good range of honest opinions.
First on the menu was chicken salad sandwiches. One of these packets contained freeze dried chicken, and the other was onions and celery. You don’t have to use them as chicken salad (actually, they can be used in any recipe you like), but they do go well together for this particular recipe.
Here are the bags opened. You can see what the foods look like in their freeze dried state. Amazingly, they didn’t look that different from their fresh equivalents! Oh, and those little packets in there are oxygen absorbers to keep the food fresh. They come in every THRIVE container to ensure top quality and long term storage (lasting an average of 20-30 years unopened, and 1-2 years after being opened).
Before preparing, both bags were dumped into some water for a couple of minutes to rehydrate.
And here’s what the chicken, onions, and celery looked like after the water was poured off. Beautiful, huh! You couldn’t even tell they had once been freeze dried. The chicken was soft and moist, and the veggies were perfectly tender, but not the least bit mushy.
I stirred this up with a little mayo and sweet pickle relish, and served it on homemade bread. Delicious!!! The freeze dried chicken is just like any other kind of unseasoned chicken. It’s plain until you either add it to a dish or season it a little. I’m convinced that you would never know the difference if I served you a meal with this freeze dried chicken in it.
We also got to enjoy some Potato and Cheese Soup from THRIVE’s Express line. I absolutely loved how easy this was to make. Boil some water, dump the package in, cook and stir for 15 minutes, and voila! Dinner’s done!! And the taste… well, let’s just say the kids devoured it. (This is what my 2 year old exclaimed, “It’s GOOD!” to in the video. She cracks me up!)
I was especially anxious to try the cheese. Jerry is a HUGE (and I mean big time) lover of cheese. I’ve never seen somebody eat so much cheese in all my life. And he’s very particular about which kinds he likes and which he doesn’t. We’ve actually been meaning to add cheese to our food storage… but freeze dried?? What does freeze dried cheese taste like anyways? We were hesitant to sink any money into anything we weren’t sure we’d love. So… Jerry’s opinion would be the determining factor in whether or not we would buy any.
Here’s what it looked like in the package. SURPRISE! It actually looks like cheese!! I don’t know why I was so amazed by this. I guess I didn’t imagine the color to be so bright and fresh looking.
After soaking it in water for a few minutes, draining it off, and refrigerating it overnight, it was ready for the big test. It went really well sprinkled over the cheesy potato soup, but we all sampled it plain as well. Jerry was amazed at how fresh it looked, and after pinching up a handful and shoving it in his mouth… he LOVED it! I think we were all shocked at how much like “regular” cheese it tasted. You wouldn’t even know the difference. (This was actually the first thing we ordered after our taste testing party. Lots of cheese!)
Green beans were a side dish to the entree. Another thing that I love about THRIVE foods is that it is made with no preservatives. The ingredients: green beans. Period.
Here they are in the bag. Picked at the peak of harvest. And unlike when foods are dehydrated, freeze drying actually retains nearly 100% of the original flavor, color, and nutrients.
I must admit, I didn’t do a very good job cooking these. I’m not a very talented person in the kitchen, and since we usually eat green beans out of a jar and never eat fresh green beans (shame on me, I know), I wasn’t exactly sure how to best prepare these guys. They rehydrated beautifully, but I thought it would be a good idea to saute them with some onions for flavor. They tasted good, they were just a bit undercooked, I think. Either way, I definitely prefer canned green beans over fresh or freeze dried. These would be great for people who love the taste and texture of fresh green beans.
A drink mix was also included in our meal. This was the Melon Berry Burst. Just add water, mix and chill! What I was really excited to learn about these drink mixes is that they are actually made from real, freeze dried fruit which has been turned to a powder. No chemicals, dyes, or preservatives… nothing but natural goodness! Just try to find something like this at the grocery store.
It was gorgeous mixed up, and tasted divine. The kids were in heaven, as we don’t give them juice very often. It was fruity and refreshing, with just the right amount of added sweetness.
We love blueberries around here. And these were no exception.
We sampled them dried first. They had a slight crunch, and then dissolved in our mouths. The kids especially loved these. I think they’d be really great in our homemade granola.
When rehydrated, they were almost as good as fresh. The taste was all there; the texture was more that of a cooked berry. I think these were all three of the kids’ favorite. They would be amazing over yogurt, or in a cobbler, oh, or in smoothies. Yum.
Next up, the apples. THRIVE carries several different varieties of apples. These were Fuji.
Here they are dried. They were really sweet and chewy straight out of the bag. And got a thumbs up from everyone all around.
The rehydrated apples were good as well. Though they definitely weren’t like fresh, crisp apples. The flavor is all still there, but they end up being a mix between soft and chewy. We all enjoyed eating them like this as well. Different, but very good. They’d be really nice in a pie or any kind of baked dessert!!
We also got to taste freeze dried strawberries. We all love strawberries as well.
Here’s what they looked like dried. You can see that the shape and color are beautifully retained. I would not recommend eating them straight out of the bag. Sour! I forgot to take a picture of the rehydrated strawberries, but they too were a bit on the tangy side for us. We didn’t like the strawberries straight up like that, but I’m anxious to try them in dessert dishes and smoothies. A little bit of sweetener and they’d be really good.
Red Seedless Grapes were also put to the test.
They look funny dried, huh? Kinda like a mix between a fresh grape and a raisin. The texture was very different. The dried grapes were hard, and they broke in your mouth like candy when you bit down on them. I really enjoyed the uniqueness of the grapes. The flavor was sweet and fresh. I’m sure you could easily fool your children into thinking these were candy. Which is wonderful since there isn’t any sugar or anything added to them!
The rehydrated grapes were another strange texture. I guess it reminded me of what a grape might feel like half way through the dehydrating process. Again, the flavor was all there, and I enjoyed finishing off the bowl. I don’t think the kids liked these as much as the blueberries and apples. Dried was definitely better than rehydrated, in my opinion. But man was the flavor awesome!
We also had an opportunity to try the freeze dried vanilla yogurt bites, but we ate them so quickly I didn’t even think to take a picture! They were SO. GOOD. Like little bites of marshmallow that melted on your tongue. Even baby Elias was able to eat them, much to his delight! We all loved the yogurt bites. The come as hard, mini cubes and can be eaten straight out of the can, or you can add a little water and stir to make a smooth and creamy yogurt.
If you’d like, you can see for yourself what my kiddos thought. (Sorry it’s a bit home movie-ish! Yes, you will hear Xia telling the world she just pee-peed. Welcome to my unedited reality.)
After tasting for myself what great products these are, and seeing the incredible selection Shelf Reliance has to offer (things I’d never be able to can or grow myself… such as bananas, my children’s FAVE) I not only placed an order for things I’d love to have in my home store, I also signed up as a consultant!