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Why freeze drying is so important to preserve nutritional values

From President & Founder, Nancy Smithers

More nutrients and stable shelf life—naturally

In my efforts to source ingredients, manufacture and market the highest quality USDA Certified Organic vitamins, minerals, supplements and fruit snacks, I take into consideration many factors. The quality of the growers of the over 100 plants, herbs, algae, seeds, grains and grasses that I use to formulate our products at Nova Scotia OrganicsTM, the harvesting processes used, the authenticity of the USDA Certified Organic ‘credentials’ of each and every ingredient, and also how we handle these ingredients and produce the tablets, caplets, ready-to-mix powders or fruit snacks you receive.

In the 20-plus years I’ve been in business, I have never wavered in my mission to produce only the highest quality products. But I learned early on that the nutritional properties of even the highest quality ingredients could be significantly compromised if not handled and manufactured in an equally high quality way.

Nova Scotia Organics uses many whole fruits, and extract powders of many others, in more than half of our products. These fruits range from Canadian wild low bush blueberries and Gala apples to tropical mango and pineapple, but they all have one thing in common—their high water content. To prepare these ingredients to either be sliced and bagged for snacks, or granulated, mixed and tabletted for our bottled vitamins, minerals and supplements, we must dry them thoroughly first to remove any water from their natural form.

There are a surprising number of ways to dry organic ingredients.

Oven Drying: This process is just what it sounds like. Herbs or plants are dried at temperatures of 140 to 158 Fahrenheit for long periods of time. These temperatures do cause some loss of vitamins A, C, Bs, antioxidants, many beneficial enzymes and some nutrients. Oven drying also can negatively affect the taste and creates a shriveled product that can be hard or rubbery due to the fact that this process does not remove all the water and final moisture retained can be as high as 5% to 10%. Without preservatives of some type, food products dried this way are often subject to mold without preservatives. Nova Scotia Organics does not use oven drying for our fruit snacks.

Drum Drying: Using this method, plant based ingredients are dried in rotating drums and exposed to very high temperatures for a short period of time. The process takes a relatively short time and the cost is relatively low when compared to other methods. However, products treated this way do lose some of the nutritional value due to the high heat, and for dried fruits eaten whole, drum drying causes browning and can also cause oxidation, reducing the shelf life. Manufacturers of dried fruits using this method usually add sulfites to the product to counteract these negative effects and it’s why we do not find it suitable for our fruit snack products.

Only Freeze Drying for our Fruit Snacks

Early on, Nova Scotia Organics committed to using freeze drying exclusively as the way to dry our USDA Certified Organic fruit snacks. While the capital expense to purchase, install and operate these massive freeze dryers was significant, the difference in the quality of organic products my customers would receive was so great, I’ve never looked back.

While the process is time consuming and must be monitored very carefully, freeze drying –or as it is scientifically referenced, lyophilization– is a three step process and produces uncompromised results.

Freezing the ripe, beautiful organic fruit to -30 Celsius retains much of its cellular integrity, preserving both nutritional values and the natural fruit fiber. This process enables the ice molecules to go directly to a vapor state and the fruit is then dried in two stages—primary drying or sublimation, and secondary drying, or desorption.

Sublimation exposes the fruits to low temperatures and low pressure which permits the moisture to be removed by changing directly from a solid ice form to vapor without passing through the liquid phase. Desorption uses a slightly higher temperatures but still low pressure to further dehydrate the product. The result is a product with only 1%-3% moisture for a naturally longer shelf life, an intact cellular structure, great taste and an appetizing, unaltered appearance.

When we dry fruits and ingredients at Nova Scotia Organics, we use only the freeze drying method.

It’s your body. Run it well.TM

 

Only Freeze Drying for Us…and You

Freeze drying removes water from herbs, plants, and fruits, without excessively heating the products. What remains?

  • More nutrition
  • Better flavor
  • Better appearance with no browning
  • Pleasing lightly crunchy texture
  • No preservatives required
  • Longer shelf life, naturally

3 Steps to Freeze Drying, or Lyophilization, as defined by the FDA

  1. Freezing, which permits the moisture to be removed by changing directly from a solid ice form to a vapor, without passing through a liquid phase
  2. Sublimation or primary drying at low temperatures and low pressure
  3. Desorption, or secondary drying using slightly higher temperatures, but still at low pressure

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