Freeze-Drying Banana Bread Slices, Pumpkin Pie and Other Tasty Treats

All the rage last fall was having freeze-dried pumpkin pie coming out of your freeze-dryer on the groups of avid freeze-drying loyalists on Facebook. So of course we tried it out – and will be doing it this fall as well.

Freeze-dried pumpkin pie is pretty phenomenal. It’s like buttery biscotti.

The secret are those massive pumpkin pies, sold at Costco in the fall, thinly sliced, then frozen, then freeze-dried. It is that simple. It produces a crunchy treat, so thinly slice those pies.

So plan! Plan! They will start showing up very soon in stores.

The secret is to cut it thinly, and lay out on parchment paper lined trays. Then freeze fully, place in your freeze-dryer, and run on auto. The wafer thin slices make for a great snack. You can of course use homemade pie, but you’ll need 2 pies for every Costco pie.

Give a jar of this as a gift this December…and you might have them begging for more.

And as I say often, follow the directions for your machine. The machines do the programming for you now.

And then there are the candy freaks as winter settles in – and trust me, once you get a Harvest Right freeze-dryer, you will end up doing at least one batch candy to just have done it – and to brag about it. Chewy candy is of course the choice for many. They become crunchy, instead of chewy. The freeze-dryers now run on auto for candy, and have built in programming. Be sure to follow directions carefully for it, because candy is like grease…if it gets the chance, it will make an epic mess in your machine. Stay on the course, and you won’t be scrubbing your machine, but rather eating.

We also tried various gummy candies, however I wasn’t so happy with gummy candy. It can have issues where it looks dry, but isn’t. If it is that way, it will collapse later on as it absorbs moisture and returns to a weird mix of crunchy and chewy.

The harder candies seem to do better. We left them in a jar with no oxygen absorber, and they were fine even months later. That was a good run in my eyes. And it makes a great gift. Everyone loves them, besides your bitter cousin or aunt who lectures you about poor food choices.

But the star of my freeze-drying runs was making lower sugar banana bread. Unlike the items above, this one I could partake in, and stay in my goals still. Since I was making the bread from scratch, I could use whatever sweeteners I wanted. I doubled the recipe to make 2 loaves at a time, to speed up my work. I had found bananas that were on a great sale, so I did like 6 loaves over a couple of days.

The key is I made the bread without added oil (only what was present naturally in the eggs). This ensured no fat issues when freeze-drying. The less oil used in any recipe you are freeze-drying, the better. You know how often you pick up a piece of banana or zucchini bread and you can practically squeeze out oil from it? Yeah, no. You don’t want that. It’ll leave a mess in your machine, as the oil pushes out, but also lead to a lot shorter shelf life (oil is what goes rancid in freeze-dried foods).

So? The recipe? Here’s the thing…banana bread is pretty darn personal. What I like, many won’t like. Because I weaned myself off most sugar over many months, I use a recipe with about 1/3 of the sweetener a normal bread would call for. And then half of that is my go-to sugar sub.

So instead, use a recipe you like. One that makes a 9×5″ pan of bread. Look for a recipe high in bananas (say 4 per loaf). For the oil called, use unsweetened applesauce instead. Or use half plain greek yogurt and half applesauce. This will give moist banana bread but without all the oil. You won’t miss it! Be sure to add cinnamon, it really comes thru once dried. I would say though keep the sugar to only a cup per loaf, or less. It can become far sweeter tasting once dried. (I used about half a cup total) Changing the sugar won’t affect the bread, by lowering it. Some recipes call for as much as one and half cups sweetener. For subbing, use Splenda (sucralose) or a monk fruit blend aimed at baking for best results. But if you use sugar free, do not feed to dogs! Mark the bags it is packed into after drying.

I prepped our baking pans with pan spay that has flour added. For easy release without heavy oil, this worked great. You could also line your pans with parchment paper cut to fit the bottom.

After baking the bread, let it cool on a rack in the pan for at least 30 minutes, then knock out onto the rack. Let cool completely. Thinly slice the heels of the loaf off, then slice into thin slices. I then sliced the slices into french fry size portions, so that each piece has a bit of both top and bottom of the loaf. They were about as wide as my fingers.

I put the silicone mats on the drying trays, and then laid the slices out. You can have them pretty close to each other, but keep them separate. (Parchment paper, cut to fit the trays, can be used instead. Lining the trays is worth doing.)

Then I covered the trays (we have the lids) and froze them solid. This allowed me time to make multiple loaves of bread and process. And to get enough ready to have a full freeze-dryer load.

Then, off to the freeze-dryer, which had been pre-started before hand. The machine is automatic and determines how long it will take, but on average it was about 24 hours later that they were dried. We usually test a piece on each tray, in the center of the tray, by breaking in half. If there is any moisture, just reset for 4 hours or so, and walk away. I have gotten good at determining if things are done or not, it comes with running the machine often.

Pack up in mylar bags or mason jars, add in an oxygen absorber packet and seal fully. Mark and tuck away.

(Note: I pack up a small amount of everything we dry into a mason jar so I can keep an eye on it in storage, and see if somehow we missed moisture, as the food will collapse if there was humidity in it.)

The taste? It’s like biscotti. It’s crunchy. It’s like you have a dense treat that eats like crackers. It’s really addictive and tasty.

As always though, if you are eating freeze-dried food dry, drink a lot of water/liquids with it. Your stomach will appreciate you doing that.



FTC Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links that give us commissions on products purchased.