Freeze Drying · Trail Cooking

Freeze-Drying versus Dehydrating: Egg Noodles (Making Instant Pasta)

We have been running comparisons with Freeze-Drying versus Dehydrating with various ingredients, to see what the outcome is. This has meant that we are running both our Harvest Right freeze-dryer and our dehydrator running nearly non-stop of late.

One of the things you cannot buy easily (even online) is “instant pasta” – outside of using ramen noodles and small couscous. Neither of these are a 1:1 substitute for actual pasta. You know it isn’t the same when you go to eat it, no matter how much the PR for couscous will tell you “It’s pasta!”. Enjoy ramen and couscous in recipes for them, and have fun prepping and storing “instant” pasta for your recipes. It’s FBC (Freezer Bag Cooking) friendly and saves a lot of time cooking on trail, no large pot needed, no messy starchy water that boils over, and as well, you use a lot less water making your meal (if you are cooking for 2 people a 2 liter pot is a must, and so is using 6 cups of water for uncooked pasta). Just boil water, soak the pre-cooked pasta and you are good to go.

1 pound of uncooked raw extra wide egg noodles. Bought in bulk at a US Foods Chef’s Store (used to be known as Cash & Carry), which is a restaurant supply store. We buy the noodles in 10 pound boxes. They also sell them in 5 pound bags.

– And let me say this: If you have a child who is a picky eater or has sensory issues with food, and they live off of buttered noodles with 4 shakes of Parmesan cheese, I highly encourage you to have a LOT of this in your prepper pantry. Anytime you have an emergency (power outage, weather, earthquake, and so on) the stress level of children gets bad. If you can serve them food that is a comfort food, so much the better. Happy children leads to parents with a lot less anxiety to deal with.

Now then….what is the actual difference between dehydrating it, versus freeze-drying it? In each method I weighed out the uncooked product in both ounces/pounds and grams, and then after cooking it, and then after it was dried, as well as before rehydrating and after it.

For best results cook the pasta for the shortest time on the package. Make sure you rinse the cooked pasta very well, with cold tap water, shaking it well while doing it. You want to remove the starch off of it and to stop the cooking. The pasta will finish cooking upon rehydration.

Work quickly and don’t let the cooked pasta sit in the colander longer than needed, as it will start clumping up. Wearing disposable gloves (food grade) helps you break up clumps quickly, and keeps the food clean. No sticking to your fingers.

A small digital scale was used for the weighing.

Dehydrating Egg Noodles:

  • Dry uncooked weight – 16 ounces / 454 grams
  • Cooked and drained – 2.26 pounds / 980 grams
  • Dehydrated weight – 13.8 ounces / 391 grams

Boiled large pot unsalted water, cooked extra wide egg noodles for 6 minutes (shortest time on package). Drained, and rinsed well with cold water, shaking off well.

Placed on 3 dehydrator trays, dried at 153° for about 6 hours, till fully dry. Let cool on counter, then weighed and packaged up.

Rehydration:

  • 1 cup dried noodles ( 1.5 ounces/ 43 grams)

Add 1 cup boiling water, cover and let rehydrate for 15 minutes.

  • Rehydrated weight: 3.9 ounces/ 109 grams

Rehydrated and ready to eat.

Freeze-drying Egg Noodles:

  • Dry uncooked weight – 16 ounces / 454 grams
  • Cooked and drained – 2.23 pounds / 972 grams
  • Dehydrated weight – 13.2 ounces / 375 grams

Boiled large pot unsalted water, cooked extra wide egg noodles for 6 minutes (shortest time on package). Drained, and rinsed well with cold water, shaking off well.

Spread out onto 2 parchment paper lined rimmed baking sheets in a single layer, froze fully in freezer.

Transferred to freeze-dryer trays, lined with the silicone mats you can add (or use parchment paper cut to fit). Put into the machine, which was set on the pre-freeze mode.

Freeze-drying time was 18 hours 36 minutes for the run (we also did peas and corn alongside).

Rehydration:

  • 1 cup freeze-dried noodles ( 3 ounces / 34 grams)

Add 1 cup boiling water, cover and let rehydrate for 10 to 15 minutes.

  • Rehydrated weight: 3 ounces / 85 grams

Rehydrated and ready to eat.

Side by side. Dehydrated on the left, freeze-dried on the right.

The Takeaway:

  • Both methods produced a usable and good quality product.
  • Both are perfectly tasty, and both rehydrate great.
  • The dehydrator wins in time, in just a third of the time of the freeze-dryer.
  • Weight-wise the freeze-dried wins by just .4 of an ounce.
  • Size-wise though, the dehydrated takes up a lot less room. The freeze-dried pasta is full size. So if space is a concern, then dehydrated wins.
  • The freeze-dried does rehydrate quicker. It only needed 10 minutes (I checked and tasted both at 10 minutes in). The dehydrated really needed all 15 minutes (though you could soak and add to a meal, such as chicken noodle soup, and it would continue rehydrating).
  • The freeze-dried noodles can be dropped right in a soup with no presoaking and will rehydrate quickly in a boiling broth. The dehydrated ones need to be presoaked.
  • The freeze-dried noodles are lighter in color and have a different texture when in dry state. They would be far easier to crush than the dehydrated ones.
  • If properly stored, the freeze-dried noodles can be stored for up to 25 years (sealed air tight). The dehydrated should be used up within 1-2 years max.

Is There A Winner?

That’s a hard one to quantify, to be honest. Both are good, in their own way. I would say the freeze-dried egg noodles come back in appearance and chew of the freshly cooked the best. But in this case, it’s still pretty close in who wins.

For many, it will come down to cost – a dehydrator is affordable compared to a freeze-dryer. It also takes a lot less space.

But what can I say…a home freeze-dryer is just so much fun.

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FTC Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links that give us commissions on products purchased. These items are what we used in the recipe/method above.

~Sarah

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