Freeze Dry Candy at Home (How to Start)

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If you have never tasted freeze-dried candy in your life, let me tell you, you’re missing out!

Most candies can be freeze-dried as a form of dehydration to alter the texture. It ends up as a “puffier” version of the candy with a satisfying crunch or crispiness.

The texture is something close to cheesy puffs (without the cheese of course). The flavor is pretty much fully retained.

Because they’re so flavorful, you could end up eating less candy than usual. Each bite is a blast of the full-on flavor of the candy. Be careful though, freeze-dried candies are quite addicting!

Chances are you’re wondering, how do I freeze dry my candy?

To freeze-dry candy at home, a dedicated freeze dryer is a musthave tool.

Blog posts commonly include other methods to freeze-dry candy at home, but they simply do not work! This includes methods such as “deep-freezing” or using dry ice. This is not the same!

Do not be fooled; these methods will only end up in a harder, cold version of candy.

For more information on why this is the case, keep on reading!

How does freeze-drying work?

Essentially, freeze-drying is a form of dehydration where moisture is removed as ice through sublimation. This conserves the structural integrity of food better than traditional forms of heated dehydration. This process is otherwise known as lyophilization.

Freeze dryers have a vacuum pump that creates negative pressure around the candies, allowing moisture to sublimate out of the candy, leaving behind a solid crisp candy. The key is negative pressure, which cannot be easily replicated through other methods that will be discussed (dry ice or deep freezing).

Freeze dryers involve removing the tiny pockets of ice in a product as a way to dehydrate. This is done by freezing the product to the negatives, lowering the pressure through a vacuum pump, and using sublimation to remove the ice inside the product. This is the best method of food preservation as the composition stays pretty much intact!

Sublimation – When a substance passes from solid to gas phase without going through liquid phase.

Wikipedia article on sublimation

What does that mean for us? Freeze-dried foods retain more nutritional value and flavor! Stored properly, freeze-dried food can last as long as 20 years long. So don’t think you’re just limited to candies.

Can you freeze dry candy at home without a machine?

Short answer, no.

While there are other methods to dry freeze other foods without a freeze dryer, it just does not seem to work all that well with candy. You’ll need a dedicated freeze dryer to dry freeze candy. The smallest unit starts at just under $2400 (at the time of publishing). For a machine that will be used for almost a lifetime, it’s a sound investment.

Why should you get a freeze-dryer?

The ability to preserve food is beneficial for so many reasons.

Not only can freeze-dried food be stored longer, but the food tastes surprisingly better sometimes! The food’s structural integrity is better preserved than dehydration, which uses heat and airflow.

Some salted dehydrated vegetables, like green beans, can be a delicious and addictive alternative to chips.

With dehydrators, excess heat can result in a loss of nutritional content or a weird flavor/texture.

Because freeze-drying removes moisture in a controlled environment, most of the food’s structural integrity is preserved.


Perhaps opening a small local or online-based candy-selling business sounds appealing.

Trending interest in freeze-dried candy. Source: Google Trends

Freeze-dried candy businesses have been popping up steadily in recent years as it is easy to promote these candies on Tiktok.

Is it worth buying a freeze-dryer?

On the low end, home freeze-dryers start over $2,000 with the high end costing upwards of $3,600.

If you plan to use it for at least a year, chances are it will pay for itself compared to buying freeze-dried food at the store.

When it comes to meats, fruits, vegetables, and candy, they can be preserved with a long shelf life under proper conditions.

Pros and Cons of Freeze-Drying Candy at Home

Pros

  • Perfect gift
  • End result – crispy and flavorful!
  • Multi-year shelf-life

Cons

  • Upfront cost
  • Expensive running cost
  • Super addicting

It is puffy, airy, and crispy! But when you bite into it, it bursts into sweet and tangy flavors! Best of all, it does not get stuck in between your teeth (should rinse with water after eating sweets anyway).

There are a lot of sample packs on Etsy for various dry-freeze candies. So if you’re not quite ready to purchase a freeze-dryer yet, try out some freeze-dried candy! It is a must-try experience.

What is a good freeze dryer for home use?

Harvest Right has a good range of industrial-grade freeze dryers for home use starting at around $2000. They have options to do a layaway payment plan with zero interest until fully paid. After the final payment, they will send the machine.

I paid off my freeze dryer in about 10 months of starting a local candy business.

What candies can you freeze dry?

Avoid candies high in oil content. Also, avoid using candies that contain too much or too little moisture for freeze-drying to have an effect.

Here is a list of candies that are freeze dry friendly!

  • Starbursts
  • Milk Duds
  • Werther’s Soft Caramel
  • Skittles
  • Airheads
  • Gummy candy
  • Jolly Ranchers

What else is freeze-drying good for?

  • Meat
  • Fruits and vegetables
  • Desserts
  • Pet food
  • Cheese
  • Coffee (make your version of instant coffee)

What does freeze-drying do to candy?

It “puffs” up the candy, similar to a Cheeto puff, and it retains pretty much all the flavor in a crispy crunch that then melts in the mouth. So imagine all the sweet and tangy but an added level of airiness and crispiness. Another way to describe this texture is that it’s similar to styrofoam or popcorn.

When you bite, all the flavor is released at once (for some candies, it can be overwhelmingly sweet).

For example, gummy candies have an airy, fluffy crunch with a slight chew in the center.

What do freeze-dried Jolly Ranchers taste like?

When you bite into these freeze-dried Jolly Ranchers, they taste just like Jolly Ranchers, but puffier like chips! The crispy crunch and almost bursting-like sensation into a tangy, sweet flavor profile.

My mouth is watering as I type this. This reminds me, that these do not get stuck to your teeth when you eat them. It is airy and crispy, along with whatever flavor candy it is. You can either eat them like chips or let them sit on your tongue as saliva breaks down the goodness.

Is a home freeze dryer worth it?

As home freeze dryer units start around the mid-$1000s, it is important to consider how much and how often you plan to use it.

Do you want to save money with high-quality preserved foods? Or perhaps you live in an area where the power grid shuts off for a while. Emergency supplies are important to prepare ahead of these events.

Dried frozen foods taste a lot better when going camping or hiking too.

Maybe the idea of starting an online candy store selling your freeze-dried products sounds enticing!

Can you freeze-dry without a freeze dryer?

Short answer, nope!

It takes a freeze dryer (with a vacuum pump) at least 8 hours to fully freeze dry food or candy. The vacuum is essential as it encourages sublimation (removal of moisture in the form of ice to gas) to dehydrate candy.

Two methods are commonly shared that do not use a freeze dryer. However, the results are negligible and are not anywhere close to a properly freeze-dried candy.

The main reason is that these methods do not have a way of lowering pressure (via vacuum pump) like a freeze dryer has to pull the moisture out.

Generally, these methods will be disappointing. Tests with candy resulted in no change after 3-4 weeks of storage in a deep freezer. With dry ice, you would need to continuously replace the ice to keep the temperature down. While the candy may freeze, it does not dry out at all.

Method 1: Deep Freeze

  • Set the temperature to the lowest possible setting.
  • Store the candy in a freezer-safe bag.

Method 2: Dry Ice (more “effective”)

Dry ice is not effective for freeze-drying candy
  • Using a freezer-safe bag, store the candy in a cooler.
  • Cover the bags with layers of dry ice.
  • Barely close the lid of the cooler; don’t seal it all the way as there will be a gas expansion (from the dry ice) in the cooler.
  • Set aside for at least 24 hours.

Can you dehydrate candy instead of freeze-drying?

If you’re wondering whether it’s possible to dehydrate candy in a dehydrator, the quick answer is no.

Because the water content of candy is already so low to begin with, using a dehydrator or even an air-fryer would not end up with anything close to resembling freeze-dried candy.

For dehydrating, it is better to stick to fruits or jerky.

What’s the difference between dehydrating and freeze-drying?

DehydratingFreeze-drying
Lower barrier to entry costMore expensive startup cost
Quicker processLong process (for candy, ~6 hours)
Food shrinksFood keeps shape or expand
Loses or preserves flavorBetter flavor (probably due to unique texture)

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, if you are trying to freeze-dry Skittles in a deep freezer or with dry ice, it won’t work. Freeze dryers are a must if you are looking to properly freeze-dry any kind of candy.

The dry ice and cooler method might work on fruits but definitely not candy; a vacuum pump from a freeze dryer is essential to pulling moisture out of candy.

If you have never tried freeze-dried Skittles, what are you waiting for?

Freeze-dried Skittles

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