Freeze-dried ice cream is ice cream that has had most of the water removed from it by a freeze-drying process, sealed in a pouch, and requires no refrigeration.

It is also known as astronaut ice cream or space ice cream, typically a slab of ready-to-eat dehydrated ice cream. Compared to regular ice cream, it can be kept at room temperature without melting and is more brittle and rigid but still soft when bitten into.

Freeze drying (or lyophilization) removes water from the ice cream by lowering the air pressure to a point where ice sublimates from a solid to a gas. The ice cream is placed in a vacuum chamber and frozen until the water crystallizes. The air pressure is lowered, creating a partial vacuum, forcing air out of the chamber; next heat is applied, sublimating the ice; finally a freezing coil traps the vaporized water. This process continues for hours, resulting in a freeze-dried ice cream slice.

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The Benefits of Freeze-Dried ice cream

  • Never Melts

Unlike its “real” counterpart, Astronaut Ice Cream doesn’t melt. Bring it to the library, eat it while traveling to work, and never worry about making a mess.

  • Easy To Share

Due to its affinity to crumble, it can be easily broken apart and shared with others. Take a study break and split a Neapolitan while reminiscing about life pre-grad school applications.

  • Fewer Calories

One package of Freeze-Dried Chocolate Chip Astronaut Ice Cream has 130 calories. Ben and Jerry’s in the same flavor has 280 calories per serving. If studying for an exam makes you miss your tri-weekly yoga class, opting for ice cream with fewer calories is definitely the sweeter deal

  • It Can Stay At Room Temperature

Who said ice cream is reserved for hot summer days? Room-temperature freeze-dried ice cream means ice cream that is edible for every season. Pair a Cookies ‘n Cream ice cream sandwich with your post-Thanksgiving hot chocolate by the fire.

  • Less Expensive

The average price for astronaut ice cream on Amazon is $2.50, much cheaper than a $5.00 Ben and Jerry’s pint. Get more for your money and stock up.

It Won’t Take Up Room In Your Freezer

The slim packaging makes for easy dorm room storage. You no longer have to ditch your Trader Joe’s frozen dinners for ice cream.

  • It Gives You A Reason To Pretend You’re An Astronaut

Although you may have exchanged your childhood dream of space travel for a Political Science degree, there’s no better way to immerse yourself in nostalgia than by cozying up with this childhood delight and letting your stress float away into space.

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How to Make Freeze Dried Ice Cream?

1.Place the ice cream on the freeze dryer tray.

You can use 1.5 quarts (1.4 l) of homemade or store-bought ice cream in the flavor of your choice. Use an ice cream scoop to place individual servings of the ice cream on the tray from your freeze dryer or soften the ice cream slightly so you can spread it in a thin layer across the tray.

  • If you spread the ice cream in a layer across the freeze dryer tray, you can then break it into individual pieces once it’s freeze dried.
  • If you have multiple trays for your freeze dryer, you can freeze dry more than 1.5 quarts (1.4 l) of ice cream.

2.Chill the ice cream in the freezer for a bit.

While the freeze dryer will freeze the ice cream to a temperature as low as -30°F (-34°C), it helps to place the tray with the ice cream in your freezer for 1 to 2 hours. This will allow you to reduce the freeze time in the freeze dryer by 1 to 1 ½ hours.

  • This step is optional. You can place the ice cream directly in the freeze dryer if you prefer.
  • Cover the ice cream with plastic wrap before you place the tray in the freezer to keep it from picking up other flavors or scents.

3.Load the tray in the freeze dryer and set the appropriate freeze and dry times.

Slide the tray into the freeze dryer so it’s securely in place. Turn the appliance on, and choose the appropriate freeze and dry times for the ice cream according to the manufacturer’s instructions. You can experiment with different times to find which settings you like best for freeze dried ice cream.

  • The proper freeze and dry time may depend on the freeze dryer that you’re using, so it’s important to consult the manual to get better idea of what settings are appropriate.
  • If you’re not sure what freeze and dry times to use, start with 12 hours of freeze time and 12 hours of dry time and see how you like the results. You can also just use the default setting the first time that you freeze dry the ice cream and see how it turns out.

4.Allow the dryer to run.

It will take a while for the ice cream to freeze dry. In some cases, it may take a day or more. Don’t open the dryer to check on the ice cream while it’s running because you’ll interrupt the freeze drying process and wind up with ice cream that isn’t properly freeze dried

5.Test the ice cream for dryness.

When the freeze dryer has finished its freezing and drying cycles, remove the tray from the appliance. Find one of the thickest parts of the ice cream and break it in half or taste it. If there’s any moisture left, you will notice coldness and wetness

6.Add more dry time if necessary.

If you notice that there’s still moisture left in the ice cream, set the freezer dryer to add more drying time. Another couple of hours should be sufficient to finish drying the ice cream, depending on how long you originally set it to dry.

7.Remove the ice cream from the tray and enjoy.

Once the ice cream is dry, you can remove it from the tray. If you spread it in a single layer on the tray, use a knife or fork to break it into individual pieces. You can eat the ice cream right away or place it in airtight containers for storage.

  • There’s no need to refrigerate freeze dried ice cream. It can last up to 25 years at room temperature.
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Did Astronauts Eat Freeze-Dried Ice Cream?

Any space-lover can tell you why everyone has heard of freeze-dried ice cream because astronauts love to eat it. The Whirlpool Corporation developed freeze-dried ice cream under contract to NASA for the Apollo missions, also known as space ice cream or astronaut ice cream. But it was most likely never actually used on any space missions.

In 2016, journalist Phil Edwards dived through official NASA transcripts looking for any mention of freeze-dried ice cream in space. He never found any proof. According to most stories, the Apollo 7 mission was the only mission to have had freeze-dried ice cream. He also talked to Walt Cunningham, the sole surviving member of that crew. He said he “never had the stuff.” Jennifer Levasseur, the museum curator at the National Air and Space Museum, believing freeze-dried ice cream likely never flew in any actual missions. It is her opinion that it was evolved and tested on the ground but, eventually, ended up being rejected for flight.

So how did freeze-dried ice cream become synonymous with space travel? Years after the Apollo mission, museum gift shops started marketing freeze-dried ice cream as astronaut ice cream, and it didn’t take long for the freeze-dried treat to be conjoined with floating astronauts in space. However, just because Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong never ate freeze-dried ice cream doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy this crunchy, delicious snack.

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