Freeze drying machines can be used to preserve meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, coffee and pharmaceuticals. Freeze drying is used to store, stabilize or increase the shelf life of items. Freeze-dried products do not need to be refrigerated or preserved with chemicals and can be easily re-hydrated.
Conventional methods for preserving food have to use heat, which often harms the product, decreases its nutritional value or changes its chemical structure. Such methods also may change the texture of an item and make it less palatable. Freeze-dried items are dried at low temperatures, and their physical structures are preserved.
Such items as meat and fish can be freeze dried to make instant meals and soups. Fruits are freeze dried to use in juices or breakfast cereals, and coffee's flavor is preserved longer when it is freeze dried. Other foods that freeze dry effectively include eggs and dairy products, but whole fruits and vegetables need to be sliced into pieces to freeze dry best.
Delicate or heat-sensitive pharmaceuticals are freeze dried to stabilize them and allow for storage in different types of environments. Such medicines can be quickly reconstituted, making the process valuable even for emergency services. As with food, more conventional drying methods for pharmaceuticals use heat that can damage the chemical structure of the pharmaceuticals. Vaccines, antibodies, proteins, penicillin, viruses and bacteria are all suitable for freeze drying.