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  • Writer's pictureNorthern Lights Candy

The science behind freeze dried candy

As an Engineer, I have spent much of my life working to try and figure out how things work and the science behind our everyday world. When I first tried freeze-dried candy, I was amazed by how crunch and flavorful my favorite treats had become. It wasn't long until I was sampling different flavors and I had realized how dangerous this could become.

When we purchased our first freeze dryer, I was completely fascinated watching how these small candies grew to twice (or more) their original size and were transformed into something so amazing. I just had to know how the process worked, and now I want to share it with you.

In the world of candy, there's a fascinating process that turns your favorite sugary treats into crunchy, lightweight delights: freeze-drying. But what exactly is freeze-drying, and how does it transform candy into a whole new experience? Let's dive into the science behind this ingenious technique.

Understanding Freeze-Drying:

Freeze-drying, also known as lyophilization (sorry, big science word), is a method of removing water from a substance while preserving its structure and properties. Unlike traditional drying methods that use heat, freeze-drying involves freezing the product and then removing the ice through sublimation, where water transitions directly from a solid to a gas without passing through the liquid phase.

The Process:

1. Freezing: The first step in freeze-drying candy is freezing it to a very low temperature. This solidifies the water content in the candy, turning it into ice.

2. Vacuum Chamber: The frozen candy is then placed in a vacuum chamber. In this chamber, the air pressure is reduced to a very low level, which allows the ice to sublimate directly into water vapor without melting.

3. Sublimation: As the pressure decreases, the ice in the candy begins to evaporate, leaving behind a dried product. This process can take several hours to complete, depending on the size and composition of the candy.

4. Packaging: Once the freeze-drying process is finished, the candy is ready to be packaged. Because freeze-dried candy has very little moisture content, it can be stored for long periods without spoiling.

Science Behind the Magic:

So, why does freeze-drying work so well for candy? The key lies in the preservation of the candy's structure. Unlike traditional drying methods, which can cause shrinkage and loss of flavor, freeze-drying maintains the cellular structure of the candy, resulting in a product that retains its original shape (sort of) and taste.

Additionally, freeze-drying removes water without using heat, which helps to prevent chemical changes that can alter the flavor and color of the candy. This means that you get all of the original flavor, but intensified, and a cool new texture.

Applications and Benefits:

Freeze-dried candy isn't just delicious—it also has practical applications. Because it is lightweight and has a long shelf life, freeze-dried candy is popular among backpackers, astronauts, hunters and emergency responders who need lightweight, portable snacks that won't spoil quickly.

Freeze-drying can be used to create unique culinary experiences. Chefs and food scientists are experimenting with freeze-dried ingredients to add crunch and flavor to dishes, from desserts to savory entrees.

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