Waste not want not

By Ashleigh Fielding | posted on December 12, 2019

AN ALBANY-based fresh produce business has taken a new step towards reducing food waste by introducing freeze-dried products.

Handasyde Strawberries purchased a machine capable of such technique in September and began selling freeze-dried products last week.

Similar to Woolworths’ The Odd Bunch, the procedure aims to prevent perfectly edible food that may simply not look as nice as the regular produce for sale from being thrown away for being “ugly”.

So far, Handasyde Strawberries has successfully put strawberries, lemons, limes, gelato, mushrooms, asparagus and raspberries through the machine.

“We don’t throw anything away,” owner Lyn Handasyde said of her strawberries.

“Anything we don’t use for jam or gelato, we freeze-dry.”

The freeze-dried strawberries have been available for sale for no more than two weeks and people are already queuing up to get their hands on more.

“We had one lady order eight bags and we’ve had people call up and say, ‘are they ready yet?’,” Ms Handasyde laughed.

“There’s certainly growing demand for it.”

The freeze-dried method works by placing the prepared produce into the machine and freezing it, before it is placed into a vacuum chamber which sucks all of the water out of the produce – the water sublimates, converting from ice to vapor.

The end result is a lighter version of the original product with a crunchy, meringue-like texture.

The process extends produce shelf life to up to two years.

Neil and Ms Handasyde revealed that local chefs and restaurants had already shown their interest in showcasing the freeze-dried products on their menus.

The pair are also looking at freeze-drying truffles.

“It’s just amazing what foodies have done with it,” Ms Handasyde said of the freeze-dried strawberries.

“We have our local honey guy who has used the powder form of the strawberries and mixed it in with his creamed honey – it makes pink honey.”

Strawberry wine is also now on the cards.

The freeze-drying machine cost the Handasydes approximately $188,000 but they were given a helping hand from the Department of Primary Industries and Regional Development in the form of a $75,000 grant.