New dehydration technologies revolutionize food preservation, enhance flavor, nutrient retention

Innovative dehydration technologies developed by BranchOut Food and True Essence Foods aim to overcome the limitations of traditional methods by preserving food quality, flavor and nutrients more effectively.

3 Min Read
fruit mix

At a Glance

  • Traditional dehydration methods often result in the degradation of food quality, flavor and nutrients.
  • BranchOut Food and True Essence Foods have developed advanced dehydration technologies, which preserve food quality.
  • These new technologies offer more nutritious dried food ingredients for applications like fruit powders, snacks and MREs.

Dehydration is a stalwart practice in food and beverage manufacturing. Traditional methods of dehydration, however, come with a caveat: degradation of the quality of the ingredients.

“The fundamental challenge we have with dehydration is that every time you dehydrate, food, water and flavor leaves, and you can’t get flavor to stay behind,” Matt Rubin, founder and CEO of True Essence Foods, said. “So, you are constantly making a compromise between the emotional connection to fresh food and the convenience of shelf-stable food.”

Eric Healy, founder and CEO of BranchOut Food, calls traditional methods of dehydration “legacy technology.” He cited such methods as freeze drying and air drying, which preserve foods by freezing, heating or oxidizing.

“Both of those legacy technologies really degrade the product in a number of ways,” he said.

BranchOut Food and True Essence Foods are tapping new dehydration technologies to absolve some common challenges of traditional dehydration methods.

According to Healy, his company’s “Gentle Dry” technology doesn’t overheat, freeze or expose foods to air as part of the dehydration process.

“We’re left with a product that just has much better flavor, much more flavor compounds,” he said. Nutrient retention is also improved, he added.

assortment of dried fruit

To achieve improved flavor and nutrient retention, BranchOut Food’s Gentle Dry technology uses a vacuum chamber to remove the air, which eliminates exposure to oxygen and also lowers the boiling point of water. This allows the company to remove the moisture in the product using very low temperatures — between 80 degrees and 90 degrees — compared to traditional methods.

While BranchOut is a CPG brand, Healy said the company’s focus is private label and co-manufacturing.

BranchOut’s technology can be applied to food ingredients, like fruit and vegetable powders and fragments, making the products suitable in a range of applications. Inclusions in nut mixes or ready-to-eat (RTE) snack products is one example.

Currently, Healy said BranchOut has partnered with the U.S. Army to apply its dehydration technology to the Army’s MRE ration meals. In this partnership, the company has developed snack products the Army is testing for sensory and shelf-life attributes, with plans to test in the field with live troops later this year.

Similarly, the technology employed by True Essence Foods focuses on improving the flavor of dehydrated foods. The company’s “Flavor Symmetry” technology uses a sealed system that captures the moisture that’s released by the foods.

“That technology … removes water from a sealed airstream using a filtration technology that allows us to absorb the water while keeping flavor behind it,” Rubin explained. “It has nowhere to go but back in the food.”

The technology also allows True Essence Foods to recapture the water that’s released from the foods for use in a variety of ways, improving sustainability and efficiency. At an industrial scale, the water can be used as a source of industrial hot water, decreasing reliance on city water.

The company serves large food production companies by installing industrial equipment that enables them to use and apply the Flavor Symmetry technology to their food products.

About the Author(s)

Rachel French

Contributing writer

Rachel French joined Informa’s Health & Nutrition Network in 2013. Her career in the natural products industry started with a food and beverage focus before transitioning into her role as managing editor of Natural Products Insider, where she covered the dietary supplement industry. French left Informa Markets in 2019, but continues to freelance for both FBI and NPI.

Scott Miller

Staff writer, Food & Beverage Insider

Scott Miller brings two decades of experience as a writer, editor, and communications specialist to Food & Beverage Insider. He’s done a little of everything, from walking a beat as a freelance journalist to taking the Big Red Pen to massive technical volumes. He even ran a professional brewing industry website for several years, leveling up content delivery during an era when everyone had a blog.

Since starting at Food & Beverage Insider, he’s written pieces on the price of greenwashing (and how to avoid it), debunked studies that served little to no purpose (other than upsetting the public) and explained the benefits of caffeine alternatives, along with various other stories on trends and events.

Scott is particularly interested in how science, technology and industry are converging to answer tomorrow’s big questions about food insecurity, climate change and more.

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