Find out all about freeze-dried meals

Freeze-dried meals! A real symbol of trekking and hiking tours. Sometimes avoided due to their taste, freeze-dried dishes are, however, designed to guarantee maximum flavour and nutritional value for hikers.

To make sure, we asked 3 questions to Caroline, Process Nutrition Engineer at Decathlon.

What is freeze-drying (or lyophilisation to give it the technical term)? (Apart from a word that could earn you lots of Scrabble points)

"Lyophilisation is a food preservation technique via dehydration. Freeze-drying, which consists of removing the water from a product, via gradually turning the water from a solid state (ice) to a gaseous one (steam), without going through the liquid stage: is sublimation. This process is achievable when the atmospheric pressure is low. Sublimation occurs at a temperature and pressure lower than the water triple point (

Therefore, food to be freeze-dried is firstly frozen very quickly, between -18°C and -30°C. Then, once the vacuum has been created in the freeze dryer, the vast majority of its ice is removed from it, via sublimation. A second dehydration stage allows for the production of food which has lost over 95% of its water."

And what are the advantages of freeze-drying?

"It is a process which is able to preserve all the nutritional qualities of the ingredients chosen for the recipes. The proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins, etc. are not altered (unlike other dehydration processes). This means, importantly, that the taste of the food is also kept intact and the use of preservatives reduced. When we head off on a hike in the heart of nature, we want to keep the real taste of things.

Finally, freeze-drying can achieve a very low weight and bulk. Perfect for carrying in a backpack!"

How are the Aptonia-Quechua meals prepared?

"Before being prepared at our supplier, the meals are designed by the product manager. He establishes what each dried meal must contain in terms of carbohydrates, proteins, lipids, and the energy value to reach, depending on the sporting activity for which the meal is designed. Therefore, for hiking or trekking, a savoury meal must provide approximately 400 to 500 kilo-calories.

Then, the recipes are developed and tested by sports-people, in the field. The flavour must be right and the meal must satisfy the appetite of the hiker.

The manufacturing at our French supplier (where numerous sport enthusiasts work, just like Décathlon!) is done in a very new factory, which is roughly one and a half years old. Each ingredient is freeze-dried separately there: meat (like beef or chicken, of French origin) on one side, the carbohydrates on the other. Before being freeze-dried, the meat is cooked at a low temperature (approximately 70°C) for between 45 minutes and 1 hour.

All the ingredients are then brought together, with aromatic spices and herbs, depending on the recipes being prepared. Lastly, they are put into individual kraft sachets."


Do you cook and have you thought of some great freeze-dried recipe dishes?
Contact us and share them! They may inspire us for future freeze-dried dishes designed for youby the Forclaz by Decathlon teams.