Saturday, September 16, 2006

Freeze dried goodness



Not just for astronauts any more.

The green things are okra (okura) chips and green bean chips. They've been freeze dried and seasoned so they're crisp and extremely snackable. And while you might be able find some of these extra portable vegetables on the street markets in Asia and at Japanese groceries in the states, I've long been of the opinion that American food companies could make a fortune if they caught wind of this trend.

Consider okra. A favorite for deep frying or thickening soup in the South, but really quite gross and gelatinous in any other preparation. But when freeze dried, it metamorphasizes into a crunchy munchy vitamin-packed snack. And oh-so-fun to amuse your friends with. Gone is the inner goo, but the structure of this pretty vegetable is left intact.

I think these snacks could be a valuable player in fight against obesity as well... imagine reaching for a handful of green bean sticks instead of Cheetos? What if they could be packaged and sold in vending machines? Kept in your drawer at the office? In your backpack for a between-classes snack?

Freeze dried veggies and fruits contain none of the evils of other munchies: no trans fat, no saturated fat, low sugar; and contain plenty of virtues like high fiber, nutrients, antioxidants? (well, I don't really know, but I wouldn't be surprised if some are retained.)

Sadly, I doubt it will catch on. It's too perfect.

A year ago I sent a message to Just Veggies, a company out in (where else) California that produces freeze dried foods for Trader Joes and other health food ventures. The difference is that their veggies are diced into tiny chunks... perfect for dumping in soup if you're an Appalachian Trial through-hiker... but really not so convenient to eat out of the container as a snack. I told them I liked their products and wondered if they had plans to make larger pieces and market them as snack foods substituting potato chips. They wrote back a rather snotty letter that the veggies I had in Asia were probably deep fried and thus far inferior to their products. "We hope you will learn to love Just Veggies they way they are." wrote their brilliantly inept PR person. I was so irked that I decided not to buy their little carrot bits ever again.

In fact, I'm pretty sure they are not deep fried. I let one sit on a paper towel and found no oily puddle after I removed it. Pretty hard to deep fry without oil, eh?

Well, big food companies, I know you have discovered what crunchy berries can do to cereal. So, if you're out there, I hope you will consider the next big diet trend canidate: Vegetables. You could probably even beat the little healthy food vendors at their own game.

10 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent Idea. Why didn't I think of this. They should take you up on your idea. Superb! I would much on veggies. How much and where?



Sunshine

Kidra said...

MY WHOLE FAMILY AGREE THAT THEY ARE DELICIOUS- I JUST CAME BACK FROM JAPAN, AND WAS HOPING TO FIND SOME IN THE OHIO AREA...

TOO BAD THE AMERICAN MARKET IS NOT INTERESTED

Tanya said...

I had these in Japan too and YUM! If I get to go back, I'm stockpiling!! I suppose I can experiment with my dehydrator but I know they won't taste the same. Probably because they won't have the deep-fried goodness your JustVeggies PR person spoke of. I prefer healthy food as much as any other health nut, but at the bottom of it all, I'm a foodie first, so however they make that okra taste amazing is the way to go. And I concur with you-- such a snide response as you received makes me not want to buy JustVeggies again. Uggh.

Anonymous said...

I found the ocra in the Fresh Market in virginia beach. Delicious!

Anonymous said...

Whole Foods now sells these.

Anonymous said...

As I read you blog I am chomping on a delicious, crispy fried okra. Wish someone would find out the calorie count and food value

essentialfoodstorage02 said...

Weew.. good thing okra is one of my favorite vegetables... along other green foods as well... :D too many to mention... but this okra and other veggies are good whether its fresh or dried...

essentialfoodstorage02 said...

Weew.. good thing okra is one of my favorite vegetables... along other green foods as well... :D too many to mention... but this okra and other veggies are good whether its fresh or dried…

Anonymous said...

Ingles (I live in the South) carries a lot of the freeze dried veggies.

Anonymous said...

We had these at a farmer's market in North Carolina (near Asheville, I think). SO good.