Freeze dried fruit is often found in the snack aisle at the grocery store. You can even find it packaged as apple/pear/strawberry chips and marketed as a healthier alternative to potato chips. I am not big on snacking on freeze dried fruit because the dry, powdery texture just doesn’t work for me. I do buy a lot of freeze dried fruit, however, because it is an outstanding way to add fruity flavor to a wide variety of baked goods and other treats!
What is Freeze Dried Fruit?
Freeze dried fruit is not simply fruit that has been dehydrated. Ripe fruit is frozen and then packed into a vacuum chamber where most of the water crystals are sublimated, or turned directly to vapor without going through a liquid state. The fruit is then dried to ensure that no water remains in it. The process retains the color of the fruit and preserves most of its nutrients, as well as creating an extremely long shelf life for the products (as long as they are protected from air once they have been freeze-dried).
Once freeze dried, the fruit can be rehydrated with water or use eaten/used directly from its dried state. Rehydrated freeze-dried fruit will not have the texture of fresh fruit, but it will not be quite as soggy as frozen fruit that has been defrosted, either.
How to Use it in Baking
Freeze dried fruit can be stirred directly into recipes for almost any baked good, from cookies to muffins to cakes. It can be used as a “mix-in” in so many recipes because it contains no excess moisture that could change the consistency of the baked good in question. For instance, fresh strawberries would make a batch of chocolate chip cookies very soggy, but freeze dried strawberries can easily be incorporated to create Strawberry Chocolate Chip Cookies with a great berry flavor and classic chocolate chip cookie texture.
Freeze dried fruit can be used in large pieces, which is often how it is packaged, or it can be broken down into smaller pieces. Coarsely chopped freeze dried fruit is a good choice for muffin and cake recipes, but pulverizing it into a powder is a better option in recipes like my Strawberry Limemade Bars. You can place the fruit in a ziploc bag and crush it with a rolling pin until it becomes a powder, however pulsing it in a food processor is a quicker way if you need to make a large quantity of it. If you are making a recipe that uses both sugar and freeze dried fruit, it is often easier to combine the sugar and fruit before pulsing it in the food processor to speed the process. Once powdered, freeze dried fruit can be added to recipes to add both color and flavor. One of the simplest applications is to make a batch of Strawberry Sugar, then use it to make homemade Strawberry Milk without artificial colors or flavors.
Reading this, you’ve probably noticed that I like to use freeze dried strawberries! This is because freeze dried strawberries are very flavorful and fresh strawberries are not always ideal for baking, since they lose a lot of their texture in the oven. These techniques can be applied to any freeze dried fruit. This recipe for Red, White and Blue Rice Krispy Treats uses two different fruits – and no artificial colors! Small fruits, such as blueberries, will most often be used whole and make a great addition to shortbreads and mini muffins. Larger fruits, such as apples, make a sweet addition to oatmeal cookies and breakfast breads. Get creative! Once you start using freeze dried fruits, you’ll find all kinds of uses for them!