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DIY Freeze Dried Candy – No Machine Needed!

DIY Freeze Dried Candy – No Machine Needed!

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Have you ever experienced the delightful crunch and flavor burst of freeze-dried candy? It’s a delightful experience where your favorite sweets transform into light, airy puffs that dissolve instantly on your tongue!

While freeze dryers have become popular kitchen appliances for creating these delightful treats, not everyone has one at their disposal, and that’s where this guide comes in handy!

This guide will unveil a variety of methods to help you enjoy freeze-dried goodies using simple alternatives that you may have around, sparing you the costs of buying a brand new machine.

How Does Freeze Drying Work?

Let’s start by understanding how freeze drying works, as it’s the key to recreating the process without the machine.

Freeze drying is a unique dehydration process that relies on lowering both the temperature and pressure of items to remove their water content. In that case, the moisture transforms directly from solid ice into gaseous water vapor through a process called “sublimation”.

What makes this process unique is that it dehydrates candy as well as other food items without relying on heat to evaporate moisture. This allows you to keep the composition of food items intact, as high temperatures can irreversibly alter various food items.

The traditional method for freeze drying is through a machine that reaches an extremely low temperature while pulling a low vacuum in the freezing chamber. This relies on a physical phenomenon, known as lyophilization.

After that, the machine introduces low heat to activate the sublimation process, reducing the moisture content of the foods dried to a minimal level.

The advantage here is that rehydrated candy retains almost all of its initial properties (flavor, texture, odor, etc), contrary to other methods of dehydration.

In other words, if you want to create freeze dried candy at home, you need to achieve the two necessary conditions (low temperature, low pressure). So let’s check out some of the methods that would also work for you!

How to Freeze Dry Candy in the Deep Freezer

This one is a simplified version of actual freeze drying, and while it may not yield the exact results as a freeze drier, the candy will still have a unique, enjoyable crunch while only using simple items that you typically have in your kitchen.

For this method to work, you’ll need a fairly powerful deep freezer, preferably one that can keep the temperature at -30 °F (-34 °C) or lower. In addition to the deep freezer, you’ll also need the following items:

  • A regular-sized baking sheet (large enough for your candy and your deep freezer)
  • Parchment paper
  • Vacuum seal bags

Step 1: Place Your Candy on the Baking Sheet

Start by lining the baking sheet with parchment paper, as frozen candy will tend to stick hard to the sheet, making it extremely hard to remove.

Once the tray or sheet is lined up, start placing your candy on while making sure every piece is properly spaced out so that they don’t touch each other. This is necessary to lower their temperature quicker and prevent them from sticking to each other.

Step 2: Put the Sheet in the Deep Freezer

First, make sure that the deep freezer is operating at its most powerful setting to lower the internal temperature as much as possible.

Next, introduce your baking sheet at the lowest point of the freezer (as it’s typically the coolest), and allow the candy to freeze.

Step 3: Transfer the Frozen Candy into a Vacuum Seal Bag

After 3 to 4 days, take out the baking sheet and remove the frozen candy. You’ll then transform them quickly into a vacuum seal bag, but make sure you’re quick.

Don’t worry about sticking, as it should be too cold for the candy to stick to each other. However, you still need to avoid overfilling, so make sure that you have enough bags.

After sealing the bag, try to pull as much vacuum on the candy as possible, and return them back to the deep freezer.

Step 4: Take the Candy Out to Thaw then Store

After 2 to 3 weeks (hopefully, you didn’t open the deep freezer too many times), the candy should be at the lowest pressure and temperature possible for quite a while.

All that’s left now is to take out the candy and let it thaw to encourage the removal of moisture.

Once they reach room temperature you can transfer them to a cool dry spot where they can last for quite a while in a vacuum-sealed bag. (make sure you check the candy every now and then to ensure that they’re still good to eat).

How to Freeze Dry Candy with Dry Ice

Another technique to make freeze-dried candy at home is through dry ice. The advantage of this method is that dry ice has a temperature lower than -109 °F (-78.5 °C), which is far cooler than any regular freezer out there.

For this method, you’ll need the following:

  • A few bags of dry ice
  • High-insulation styrofoam box
  • A regular freezer
  • Vacuum seal bags

Step 1: Prepare Your Candy

You can start by putting your candy directly in vacuum seal bags. Alternatively, you can repeat the previous steps of laying them on a baking sheet and flash freeze them first to prevent sticking.

Step 2: Fill The Ice Box with Dry Ice and Candy Bags

Put a 1.5-inch layer of dry ice at the bottom of the styrofoam box, add the candy bags on top, then start filling the ice box gradually with dry ice. Make sure the ice cubes surround the bags from all sides.

Partially close the lid or poke 1 to 2 holes in it (to prevent buildup of pressure from sublimated dry ice), and let the bags chill for some time. You may need to replenish the dry ice from time to time to keep the candy buried inside.

Step 3: Transfer the Dry Ice Box to a Freezer

After a few days (around 4 to 5), your candy bags should be ready for the slight drop in temperature that triggers sublimation.

Simply transfer the styrofoam box inside the freezer for around 24 hours or until most of the dry ice left inside is gone.

Step 4: Remove the Candy Bags and Store Them

When the candy bags are ready, take them out of the box, and store them somewhere cool and dry. Check the candy first to ensure that it retains its color and texture.

As previously established, these techniques are as close as possible to freeze drying, but they’re not exactly the same process. In other words, the results won’t be identical, although the candy should stay good for quite a while.

Can You Make Freeze Dried Candy in a Dehydrator?

Simply put, you can’t freeze-dry candy using a dehydrator, as dehydration and freeze drying are two completely different processes.

That being said, both dehydration and freeze-drying aim at preserving food by lowering the internal moisture content.

Dehydration works by applying slightly higher temperatures and generating a continuous air current to encourage the evaporation of water molecules inside the candy.

This means that you can still extend the shelf life of your favorite candy by sliding it into the dehydrator. Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Line your sheet with candy pieces and make sure they’re well spaced out
  2. Introduce the candy into the dehydrator
  3. Set the dehydrator depending on the hardness of your candy (16 to 24 hours for chewy candy and 6 to 10 hours for harder ones)
  4. Take the candy out once they’re dehydrated, and store it in vacuum-sealed bags to prevent it from pulling moisture from the air.

At such a low temperature, the candy’s flavor and texture should remain mostly unchanged, although it won’t be similar to what you get from a freeze dryer.

Can You Make Freeze Dried Candy in an Air Fryer?

The short answer to this question is no. Air fryers work with a completely different mechanism that relies on blowing extremely hot air at food to mimic frying.

The videos on social media that claim that this technique works are usually fake. This is because, at such a high temperature, most candy and sweets will typically melt or at least deform, which is typically unpleasant to eat.

Final Thoughts

Creating freeze-dried candy is a fun way to store your delicious treats and enjoy a remarkable texture and flavor when you pop one in your mouth.

Additionally, freeze-dried candy can stay good for over 20 years in the right conditions, so it’s also a perfect technique to preserve your food.

Remember, the previous methods will achieve great results when you do them right, but they won’t be identical to what you get with a freeze dryer.

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