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  • Karel Schmiedberger

Freeze-dried ready meals

Hotovky od firmy EXPRES MENU připravené k lyofilizaci

Ready meals are getting a second wind these days. Ever since a few Czech companies started producing them, avoiding chemicals and preparing really honest meals in jars or bags, ready meals are slowly making their way back into the backpacks of tourists, hikers or just cottagers and people who have other things to worry about while they are active than cooking a full meal.

Another interesting group are outdoor athletes. They don't have to be polar expeditions, but they can be climbers, trekkers, paddlers, or sailors. These, in addition to durability, taste and packaging resistance, need one more feature - light weight. In fact, all of the above have plenty of water around them, so it's unnecessary to carry more in your food.

Note: This test was performed on an earlier model of the AMARU lyophilizer. We have made several improvements since then and today the capacity would be higher and the process faster.


Since none of us abound in cooking talent, we decided to get honest-to-goodness ready-made from a family-owned company. To make it count well, we took ten 600g bags, 4 servings of each dish. So one meal for each of the five trays in AMARU, a total of 6 kg of food.

  • Szeged goulash

  • Chicken on paprika

  • Beef goulash

  • Rouladen

  • Bolognese sauce for spaghetti

Because these are really honest ready-made dishes, chunks of meat usually fell out of the bags. So I used a little bit of a chef's knife to poke these (no need for a knife - it fell apart like a cake). In the case of the rouladen, I had to shoot each of them, because a roll with meat and egg would probably have prolonged the lyophilization disproportionately.

Španělský ptáček EXPRES MENU - rozstřelená verze pro lyofilizaci


The bags are kept at room temperature, which on the day of loading meant about 24°C. Our prototype was able to freeze the entire 6 kg to the required temperature below -25°C in 14 hours.


The sauces with the meat pieces dried extremely well. It probably would have been a bit more difficult if I had left some really large pieces of meat that would have taken longer to dry, but this way the drying process took only 34 hours.


All of the food was dry to the touch when it came out of the machine. The pieces of meat could be ground into powder, and the sauces held the shape of the tray in the layer they were frozen in. After all, judge for yourself:

On purpose I will list the meals again, but this time with the final weight of one bag (2 portions), which before drying was 600 g.

  • Szeged goulash - 155 g

  • Chicken on paprika - 119 g

  • Beef goulash - 120 g

  • Rouladen - 120 g

  • Spaghetti mix - 117 g

On average, this represents a weight loss of around 75% or more. Imagine carrying only about 1.25 kilos of food in your backpack instead of 6 kilos, and it's still about 20 portions of honest-to-goodness ready meals.


Instead of words, I add another video. After all, no one is likely to eat freeze-dried Szeged goulash.


Much has been described in the introduction of the article. However, one more thing is worth mentioning. As you can see from the video above, with the freeze-dried version there is no need to heat the food in a kettle, just pour boiling water over it and wait a few minutes.


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