Herbs and spices are essential ingredients in cooking and other areas such as nutraceuticals, as they provide flavour, aroma and colour. However, these fresh ingredients have a short shelf life, so they need to be properly preserved to maintain their organoleptic properties.

Freeze-drying is a dehydration process that allows foods to be preserved for long periods of time without altering their flavour, aroma and texture. In the case of herbs and spices, freeze-drying is an excellent option to preserve their natural flavour and aroma.

The freeze-drying process is carried out in three stages:

  1. Freezing: The food is frozen at a temperature of -40 °C.
  2. Vacuum: A vacuum is created around the food.
  3. Sublimation: The water contained in the food is sublimated, going directly from a solid to a gaseous state.

Freeze-drying is a gentle process that does not alter the molecular structure of foods. This allows herbs and spices to retain their natural flavour and aroma, even after a prolonged period of time.

Graph freeze drying process.

Benefits and advantages of freeze-drying herbs and spices

Freeze-dried herbs and spices have a number of advantages over fresh herbs and spices:

Durability

Freeze-dried herbs and spices have a shelf life of several years, whereas fresh herbs and spices only last a few days. Freeze-drying is a process that removes moisture from food quickly and efficiently. This prevents the growth of microorganisms and oxidation, allowing freeze-dried herbs and spices to retain their natural flavour and aroma for a long time.

Preservation without loss of properties

Freeze-dried herbs and spices do not require refrigeration, making them easier to store and transport. This is an advantage for chefs and consumers who want to have fresh herbs and spices available all year round.

Comfort

Freeze-dried herbs and spices are easy to use, as they can be added directly to dishes, without the need for reconstitution or use of their properties for nutraceutical products.

Freeze-dried herbs and spices are an excellent choice for chefs, as they allow them to have fresh herbs and spices at their disposal all year round. They are also a good option for consumers, allowing them to keep herbs and spices in good condition for long periods of time.

Below are some examples of freeze-dried herbs and spices:

  • Herbs: basil, coriander, parsley, rosemary, thyme, etc.
  • Spices: pepper, cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc.
Basil freeze-dried

Basil freeze-dried

Turmeric freeze-dried

Turmeric freeze-dried

Preserving natural flavours: how freeze-drying preserves essential oils

Essential oils are volatile chemical compounds found in plants that give them their characteristic flavour and aroma. These compounds are very sensitive to temperature, light and oxygen, making their preservation a challenge.

As freeze-drying is a dehydration process that allows food to be preserved for long periods of time without altering its flavour, aroma and texture, it is the most suitable and ideal of the drying processes.

Freeze-drying is a gentle process that does not alter the molecular structure of the food, allowing essential oils to retain their organoleptic properties for long periods of time.

Freeze-drying is the best option for preserving the essential oils of herbs and spices. This process allows these ingredients to maintain their natural flavour and aroma for years, even without refrigeration, as no heat is applied in the drying process and they remain free of moisture, preventing their biological activity to a minimum during preservation.

Freeze-drying preserves the essential oils and the natural flavour of herbs and spices.

How freeze-drying works to preserve essential oils

Freeze-drying preserves the essential oils of herbs and spices in two ways:

  • Removes water: Water is necessary for micro-organisms to grow. By removing water from herbs and spices, freeze-drying prevents the growth of microorganisms, which can degrade essential oils.
  • Protects the molecular structure: Freeze-drying is a gentle process that does not alter the molecular structure of the food. This allows essential oils to retain their shape and organoleptic properties.

Advantages of freeze-drying for preserving essential oils

Freeze-drying offers a number of advantages for preserving essential oils including:

  • Long shelf life: Freeze-dried essential oils have a shelf life of several years, even without refrigeration.
  • Easy storage: Freeze-dried essential oils are easy to store and transport.
  • Preservation of flavour and aroma: Freeze-drying is a process that preserves the natural flavour and aroma of essential oils.
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