All About Freeze-Dried Cheese

One of the most critical aspects of building a food storage is to store foods that can be used in meals that your family will eat. We always like to say “If I could just eat PIZZA in an emergency, everything will be ok”. The bread part of the pizza is easy with food storage ingredients, and when we discovered that freeze-dried cheese actually works we knew it would become a staple in our storage.

What is Freeze Dried Cheese?
Freeze dried cheese goes through the same flash freezing process that freeze dried fruits and vegetables go through. First the cheese is frozen, then it is placed under vacuum. This enables the frozen liquid in the product to vaporize without passing through the liquid phase, a process known as sublimation. Heat is applied to the frozen product to accelerate sublimation. Low-temperature condenser plates remove the vaporized liquid from the vacuum chamber by converting it back to a solid. This completes the separation process. You are then left with a cheese product you can use like regular shredded cheese after you rehydrate it.

What Varieties Does Freeze Dried Cheese Come in?
Most food storage companies sell four varieties of Freeze Dried Cheese. You can often find cheese blends but those are a powder and will not turn out like regular cheese at all. The four main varieties are:
Cheddar Cheese
Mozzarella Cheese
Colby Cheese
Monterrey Jack Cheese

How Do I Reconstitute Freeze-Dried Cheese?
There are two methods for reconstituting your cheese. One turns out just like regular cheese, but takes a little longer to prepare. The other is just fine if you are going to be melting your cheese anyway, and it’s quick and easy.

Best Method: (from Thrive Life’s Chef Todd)
1. Place 2 cups of THRIVE cheese in a glass bowl.
2. With a spoon, lightly stir cheese while drizzling 1/2 cup of cold water over the cheese. Stir continuously until all the water is incorporated into the cheese.
3. Water should just barely start to collect on the bottom of the glass bowl. This is a sign that the cheese has absorbed enough water.
4. Place cheese in a zip lock bag and store in refrigerator overnight or for several hours before use.

Quick Method:
1. Place a thick layer of paper towels on a plate.
2. Pour dried cheese onto the paper towels.
3. Spray the cheese with a spray bottle and stir around with your finger.
4. Continue spraying and waiting a little bit, spraying and waiting.
5. Once water starts to pool under the paper towel, it should be pretty well hydrated. It may be slightly crunchy but should work fine in recipes for melting, etc.

Is Freeze-Dried Cheese More Expensive than Fresh?
Freeze-Dried Cheese is a fairly expensive product compared to it’s fresh equivalent. We usually recommend that you try a few of your favorite recipes to make sure that you are comfortable with using it, but don’t necessarily plan to replace your fresh cheese with it on a regular basis.

What Are Some Recipes I Can Try?
Here are a few recipes we’ve tried that turn out great with powdered sour cream:
Omelets
Enchilada Pie
Homemade Pizza

Where Can I Buy Freeze-Dried Cheese?
Here are links to three of our favorite sources for all food storage items including sour cream powder!

How to Make Omelets Freeze-Dried Style

Two years ago Julie and I won a trip to Cancun and we both brought our husbands and made a fun trip out of it. My husband and I fell in love with this breakfast place there that had the most amazing custom-made omelets. When we got home we had a little bit of an obsession with trying to recreate these omelets. (Our backyard chickens were still laying like champions so we had no shortage of eggs to try it out on every morning.)

The problem was that we kept running out of the fresh veggies needed for the omelets. One day I was really wanting one of the famous omelets but had no peppers or tomatoes in the house. So I ventured to the basement and pulled a few cans upstairs to try out. I then had the brilliant idea to also use freeze-dried cheese just to see if in an “emergency” I could still have my treasured breakfast.

Back Camera

Here is how I reconstituted the foods. I used freeze-dried green bell peppers and freeze dried tomato dices. I rehydrated them for just a couple of minutes before adding them into the omelet. I used freeze-dried cheddar cheese. I reconstituted it in a bowl full of water. This made it kind of squishy and hard to spread around. There are two other methods which work better which I’ll describe below. I sprinkled some of the cheese inside and topped the omelet with the rest. My omelet was DIVINE! Now if I really wanted to get crazy I could also try throwing in some freeze-dried ham, but I’m hesitant to open a full can of it because it has such a short open shelf life (but in an emergency I could have delicious ham in my omelet too!) I’d also like to try it with the scrambled egg mix some day just to see if it is as yummy (because I know not everyone has chickens).

Back Camera

Tips for Reconstituting Freeze-Dried Cheese

Best Method: (from Thrive Life’s Chef Todd)
1. Place 2 cups of THRIVE cheese in a glass bowl.
2. With a spoon, lightly stir cheese while drizzling 1/2 cup of cold water over the cheese. Stir continuously until all the water is incorporated into the cheese.
3. Water should just barely start to collect on the bottom of the glass bowl. This is a sign that the cheese has absorbed enough water.
4. Place cheese in a zip lock bag and store in refrigerator overnight or for several hours before use.

Note: Cheese will last up to 8 days in refrigerator. Continue to reconstitute cheese, as you need it, following these simple steps. Adjust quantity for individual needs.

Quick Method:
1. Place a thick layer of paper towels on a plate.
2. Pour dried cheese onto the paper towels.
3. Spray the cheese with a spray bottle and stir around with your finger.
4. Continue spraying and waiting a little bit, spraying and waiting.
5. Once water starts to pool under the paper towel, it should be pretty well hydrated. It may be slightly crunchy but should work fine in recipes for melting, etc.


Food Storage Enchilada Pie! FOR REAL!

This is a recipe I have been making for a couple years. I first introduced you to it in a blog post with some fun challenges to help you use your food storage items more often. The post came with challenges such as cooking your dry beans instead of using canned, making bean flour cream of chicken instead of using canned, and making whole wheat tortillas from scratch. The challenges and post can be found here. Well, then I found a homemade enchilada sauce and posted about that here.

Well last week I brought it to the NEXT FOOD STORAGE LEVEL! I tried it using freeze dried chicken and freeze dried cheese. I always justified the chicken and cheese in there by saying I keep a 3 month supply in my freezer, but I always wondered in the back of my mind, if it could ever be done ALL THE WAY SHELF STABLE?!?!? Well the answer is YES. I was impressed, and relived all at the same time with how it turned out.

TRADITIONAL RECIPE
Ingredients:
1 can of black beans
1 lg onion
1 can of cream of chicken
1 can of cream of mushroom
¾ cup of milk
1 (4oz) can diced green chilies
1 (8 oz) can mild enchilada sauce
1 pkg soft tortillas
½ lb cheddar cheese, grated
½ lb monterrey cheese, grated
3 chicken breasts shredded

Directions:
Wash and cook beans. Mix next 6 ingredients with beans. Place tortillas in greased 9 by 13 inch pan. Top with half the bean mixture and half the cheese. Repeat the layers. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool slightly and cut in squares.

SHELF STABLE DELUXE
Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups of cooked black beans
1/4 cup dehydrated onion
1 batch of cream of chicken from bean flour
1 (4oz) can diced green chilies
1 batch homemade enchilada sauce
6 whole wheat tortillas
2 cups of freeze dried cheese.
2 cups of freeze dried chicken

Directions:
Cook tortillas, and black beans. Hydrate chicken and cheese (the measurements given are the ingredients dry) While chicken and cheese is hydrating make cream of chicken bean sauce and enchilada sauce. Add beans, onions, cream of chicken sauce, diced green chilies, enchilada sauce, and chicken in a large bowl. Place tortillas in greased 9 by 13 inch pan. Top with half the bean mixture and half the cheese. Repeat the layers. Bake at 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Cool slightly and cut in squares.

Now I’m not going to lie. Making it the Shelf Stable Deluxe way is a TON of work. BUT, I dare you to try it at least once. It tastes INCREDIBLE because of how much fresher and healthier it is. It’s also a GREAT way to try all sorts of food storage foods, and techniques. If you like the recipe, then you can decide how ambitious you will be with it in the future. Maybe you make some of it shelf stable, and some of it fresh. You may not choose to be as ambitious as I had to be by bringing over 100 samples of it to a food storage fair, but hey – we all have our crazy moments!