What is the Difference Between Gently Dried and Freeze Dried Fruits

What is the Difference Between Gently Dried and Freeze Dried Fruits

January 30, 2024

As the world continues to strive for healthier snack options, dried fruits have soared in popularity.

They’re convenient, nutritious, and offer a delightful sweetness that satisfies our cravings.

But did you know that not all dried fruits are created equal?

There are different ways of preparing dried fruits: traditional dehydration (either gently baked or sun dried) leaving a soft and chewing texture, air drying, vacuum drying or freeze drying leaving a crunchy texture and finally fried, mainly with oil, for a crispy finish

Here at Kooky, we love soft/chewy gently dried and crunchy freeze dried fruit with most of our products being freeze dried.

In this blog, we’ll dive into the world of both of these fruit-drying processes, comparing the two methods and letting you know which one may be right for you.

But first, let’s start with the basics.

What is Freeze Dried Fruit?

Freeze-dried fruit is a form of dried fruit that has undergone a freeze-drying process. This process, also known as lyophilisation, involves several steps:

  1. Freezing: First, the fruit is completely frozen. This is done quickly to prevent the formation of large ice crystals, which can damage the cellular structure of the fruit.


  1. Vacuum and Low Heat: The frozen fruit is then placed under a vacuum. The application of low heat under these conditions causes sublimation, a process where the ice in the fruit directly converts from a solid to a gas without going through a liquid phase.


  1. Dehydration: As the ice is vapourised, it leaves the fruit dehydrated, effectively removing almost all of the moisture content. This lack of moisture helps in preserving the fruit.


  1. Sealing in Airtight Packaging: Finally, the dehydrated fruit is sealed in airtight packaging to prevent reabsorption of moisture and to maintain its shelf life.

The freeze-drying process, pioneered by NASA to produce lightweight space food, retains much of the fruit’s original nutritional content, colour, and flavour, albeit in a much lighter and crisper form.

This makes freeze-dried fruits popular for snacking, camping food, and as an addition to meals like cereals, yoghurt, or desserts.

They are also appreciated for their extended shelf life, as the removal of moisture inhibits the growth of microorganisms and the process of decay.

What is Gently Dried Fruit?

Gently dried fruit, on the other hand, is a different process which often leads to a chewier texture. The process looks like this:

  1. Low-Temperature Drying: The prepared fruits are placed in a dehydrator or a drying chamber where air at a low temperature circulates around them. The temperature is kept low—usually between 40°C to 45°C, significantly lower than traditional dehydration methods. This gentle heat removes moisture slowly over several hours or even a full day, depending on the water content of the fruit and the desired level of dryness.


  1. Monitoring Moisture Removal: Throughout the drying process, the moisture is gradually removed from the fruit. It's essential to monitor this process carefully to achieve the right balance—sufficiently dry to inhibit bacterial growth and mould, but still retaining some moisture to keep the fruit chewy.


  1. Cooling and Conditioning: After drying, the fruits are cooled to room temperature. They may go through a conditioning period, where they are left in a container for a few days. This allows any remaining moisture to evenly distribute throughout the fruit, reducing the risk of spoilage.


  1. Packaging and Storage: The gently dried fruits are then packaged in airtight containers to protect them from moisture and other contaminants. Proper packaging helps in extending their shelf life and maintaining quality.

This gentle drying process is particularly favoured for preserving the natural taste and maximising the nutritional value of the dried fruit.

It's a popular method for producing high-quality dried fruits used in cooking and baking, due to its soft and chewy nature.

Taste and Texture

Freeze-dried fruits are known for their light, airy texture and concentrated flavour. They almost melt in your mouth, offering a unique eating experience. They are ideal healthy snacks for young children, melting in contact with saliva, they reduce the risk of choking!

This makes them a great topping for cereals or yoghurt and can make them more like crisps than their gently dried counterparts.

Basically, if you love a bit of snap to your bite, freeze dried is for you.

Gently dried fruits, with their chewier texture, provide a more substantial eating experience.

They often retain more of the fruit's natural sweetness, making them ideal for snacking on their own as a sweet replacement.

These also work really well with baking as they can blend into your bakes perfectly, adding a tangy kick to your dishes without changing too much in the way of texture.

Nutritional Content

When it comes to nutrition, both freeze-dried and gently dried fruits retain most of their nutrients.

However, the freeze drying process is scientifically proven to preserve a higher percentage of vitamins and antioxidants (more than 90% of nutrients) compared to traditional drying methods (between 40-60%).

We love using this method because it really keeps in all the natural goodness of the fruit we use.

Basically, it allows our snacks to be 100% fruit, with no added extras.

Gently dried fruits, while slightly lower in some vitamins due to heat exposure, still offer a nutritious snack packed with fibre and minerals.

Shelf Life and Preservation

One significant advantage of freeze-dried fruits is their extended shelf life.

Without moisture, these fruits can last for years without spoiling, making them an excellent option for emergency food supplies or infrequent snacking.

This means there is no excuse not to have a mixed box of Kooky dried fruits in your cupboard. They’re perfect for nibbling on while watching a film, or delighting guests at a party, and they will last for a long time before going off.

Gently dried fruits also have a long shelf life but typically not as long as freeze-dried fruits. They might also require airtight packaging to maintain freshness over time.

Usage in Cooking and Baking

Both types of dried fruits are versatile in the kitchen. Freeze-dried fruits can be ground into powders for flavouring, added to smoothies, or used as decorative, flavourful toppings. They can also soften again after being soaked in lukewarm water, perfect if you are looking to make natural fruit purée, with no added sugar, nor preservatives!

Gently dried fruits are fantastic in baked goods, offering a chewy texture that complements cookies, bread, and muffins.

They’re also great in savoury dishes, adding a sweet component to salads or grain dishes.

The texture is the key here, with the gently dried varieties lending themselves more to this kind of cuisine.

Our gently dried banana and gently dried dragon fruit make perfect additions to all of the meals above and will fit seamlessly into a wide range of dishes, always adding an exciting twist to a traditional meal.

Environmental Impact

While there are often concerns about the environmental impact of both of these processes, here at Kooky, we operate in a sustainable way.

We use mainly sustainable energy to help with both processes, ensuring our carbon footprint is always as low as possible.

We also make sure to reduce waste with the help of our Kooky friends, earthworms, which eat the peels (“non-edible” part of a fresh fruit). Their vermicast (“worm poop”) is then used as natural fertilisers to grow fruits and vegetables.

Price and Availability

Freeze-dried fruits tend to be more expensive due to the complexity and energy requirements of the freeze-drying process, but not here at Kooky.

We know for many people right now times are hard, and that’s why we always sell our products at affordable prices. Finding healthy snacks at a good price can be hard, and we really want to make a difference here (our family pack is always great value).

Dried Fruits at Kooky

Both freeze-dried and gently dried fruits offer unique benefits.

Freeze-dried fruits excel in preserving nutrients and extending shelf life, while gently dried fruits offer a more traditional snacking experience with a focus on natural sweetness and chewiness. Your choice may depend on your taste preference, intended use, budget, and environmental considerations.

Why not try both and see which type suits your lifestyle and palate better?

You can find them all on Kooky, with some amazing and exotic flavours such as mangosteen and durian available to really test your tastebuds.

Whether you’re looking for a quick, healthy snack or an ingredient to enhance your cooking and baking, these dried fruits are sure to add flavour and nutrition to your diet.

Want to know more? Then get in touch with our team today.

Back to blog