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Can Bacteria Grow on Freeze Dried Food?

by Cliff Co May 28, 2024 3 min read

Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables

Freeze drying is a popular food preservation method that offers numerous benefits, including extended shelf life and the retention of nutrients and flavor. However, a common question arises: can bacteria grow on freeze-dried food?

The short answer is no, bacteria can not grow on freeze-dried products—but why? Read along and discover how freeze drying, especially with Harvest Right, preserves food and inhibits bacteria growth.

Does Bacteria Grow on Freeze Dried Food?

Freeze drying, also known as lyophilization, involves removing moisture from food by freezing it and then reducing the surrounding pressure to allow the frozen water to sublimate directly from solid to gas.

This process significantly reduces the water activity in food, making it difficult for bacteria to thrive. However, it's important to note that freeze-drying does not kill bacteria; it merely inhibits their growth by limiting their access to water.

The Freeze Drying Process

The freeze-drying process consists of three main stages: freezing, primary drying, and secondary drying. During freezing, the food is brought to a very low temperature, causing ice crystals to form. Primary drying, or sublimation, removes most of the water content, while secondary drying eliminates any remaining bound moisture. This meticulous process ensures that the food retains its structure and nutritional value while becoming shelf-stable.

Food Safety and Bacteria

Freeze-dried steak

While freeze drying slows down bacterial growth, it does not eliminate harmful bacteria such as Salmonella, Clostridium botulinum (responsible for botulism), and parasites. These microorganisms can survive the freeze-drying process and may become active again if the food is rehydrated and stored improperly. Therefore, it's crucial to handle and store freeze-dried food correctly to maintain food safety.

Salmonella, Parasites, and Other Dangerous Bacteria

Salmonella, like other forms of bacteria, can survive the freeze-drying process. Freeze-dried raw meat, especially, can lead to food poisoning. Since freeze drying only inhibits and doesn't kill, these dangerous bacteria remain a threat. It's important to practice safe food handling and proper hygiene practices after thawing to prevent contamination.

Harvest Right Can Do No Wrong

Harvest Right Freeze Dryer

Harvest Right Freeze Dryers are designed to offer a high-quality and power-efficient freeze-drying process. These machines ensure that the food retains its nutritional value, taste, and texture while extending its shelf life. They're also easy to use and come in various sizes allowing better flexibility than most brands.

Harvest Right Freeze Dryer Prices and More Info

Freeze Drying vs Other Food Preservation Methods

While freeze-drying is an excellent method for preserving food, it's not the only option. Other methods include hot air drying, microwave vacuum drying, and conventional drying. Each method has its pros and cons, but freeze-drying stands out for its ability to retain the food's original structure and nutritional content.

Hot Air Drying

This form of drying uses heat to evaporate moisture from food. While effective, it can cause significant loss of nutrients and alter the food's texture.

Microwave Vacuum Drying

Microwave vacuum drying is faster than conventional drying methods and retains more nutrients, but it requires specialized equipment and can be less energy-efficient.

Conventional Drying

These types of drying methods, such as sun drying and air drying, are cost-effective but can take longer and may result in more significant nutrient loss and quality degradation.

Proper Storage of Freeze Dried Food

To ensure the safety and longevity of freeze-dried food, it's essential to store it in airtight containers in a cool, dry place. Vacuum packaging can further extend the shelf life by preventing moisture and air from reaching the food. Proper storage also helps prevent mold growth and maintains the food's quality over time.


While bacteria can survive the freeze-drying process, their growth is significantly inhibited due to the lack of water. By using reliable freeze-drying equipment like Harvest Right freeze dryers and practicing safe food handling and storage, you can enjoy the benefits of freeze-dried food without worrying. Remember, freeze-drying isn’t perfect, but it still is a high-quality food preservation method that extends shelf life and retains nutritional value better than other methods.

Have any questions or would like to place an order? We'd love to help! Chat with our friendly customer service team by calling 1-844-945-3625, chatting in on our website, or email us at customersupport@wildoaktrail.com. We look forward to hearing from you!

Cliff Co
Cliff Co

Cliff, a passionate storyteller and hardcore seller, here to share insights and knowledge on all things prep. He firmly believes in only selling things he'd use himself, making sure only the best get to his readers' hands.

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