With the ability to lengthen the storage life of almost any product, it’s no surprise that some owners may want to try freeze-drying everything they have in their cupboard. Some have even tried freeze-drying pre-made powder mixes such as pancakes, waffles, and cake mixes.
While mixes can be freeze-dried, there is not much change in their storage life from before and after the process. Freeze-dried batter will return to its powdered form, but any liquid-activated ingredients will be part or fully inactive when we use the freeze-dried batter.
Some people freeze-dry extra pancake batter, especially if they’ve made too much for their family. But is this the best way to store mixes? This article will help you discover the ins and outs of freeze-drying pancake and cake mixes.
Can You Freeze-Dry Pancake or Waffle Mix? What About Other Mixes?
All mixes, dry or wet, can be freeze-dried and stored in a Mylar bag. However, store-bought mixes are already shelf stable, and freeze-drying the dry mix does not affect its shelf life. Alone, the mix can last a year if it is fresh. Freeze-dried mixes can last much longer once sealed.
The mix can also last for two months before the leavening agents lose their potency. So if you can store the mix without those, that’s ideal.
Creating our own mixes and freeze-drying some ingredients separately before mixing may help extend the shelf-life. But, usually, homemade is better since we can control the amount and quality of our ingredients.
On the other hand, if we’re aiming to store the leftover wet mix, we can freeze-dry it so it’ll return to its powdered form. However, if we decide to rehydrate and cook it, there’s the possibility that it might turn out flatter than the usual pancakes or cake.
Any reactive agents (like baking powder or baking soda) will already be activated in wet mixes. Once freeze-dried, all the bubbles they created during their reaction have been lost.
Below are some tips for retaining some of the fluffiness of the mixtures and how to store almost any type of mix.
How to Store Dry Mixes
Usually, store-bought mixes are already dry, and it is our choice whether to freeze-dry the ingredients as a precaution. Most mixes have similar instructions, so here is some excellent advice for storing dry mixes.
We have some articles about storing food, especially freeze-dried products. Read our highly informative article on storing freeze-dried foods in jars by clicking here.
If we decide to create our own dry mix, here’s a pretty cool trick to use in the freeze-dryer. First, freeze-dry the needed eggs and incorporate them into the dry mix. Once that is done, put the entire mixture in an air-tight container with an oxygen absorber and store it in a cool, dry part of the house.
If we have store-bought pancake mix, we can keep it as is in our storage’s dry, low-sunlit area. This way, we can prevent the humidity and sun from affecting the aging of the mix.
Another option is to put the dry mix in the refrigerator. Do this only if there is a vacuum-sealed container to store the mixture before putting it in the fridge. Once it’s in the fridge, it’s best it stays there until it’s used.
For storing Waffle mixes, follow the same instruction as the pancake mix. Mix all the dry ingredients and freeze-dry the required eggs before incorporating them into each recipe.
Once that step is done, store it in a cool and dry place in the home or put it in a refrigerator in a vacuum-sealed container.
Waffles and pancakes are pretty similar. However, waffles are made to be thicker with a crispier exterior. Usually, to get that brown outer part of a waffle, the recipe requires more sugar than the typical pancake recipe.
While pancake and waffle mixes are safe in the fridge, we can keep other types like cake, muffin, and brownie mixes in their original container in a cool and dry place.
However, if we notice the mix has pests or molds, consider tossing that particular mix. We should consider putting the next mix in an air-tight, vacuum-sealed Mason jar or Mylar Bag.
Seriously. Check out our article on how to do that here: How to Safely Store Freeze-dried Foods in Mason Jars (vacuum sealer).
A mix is typically good four to five months past the marked expiration date, so if there are old mixes, they should be safe to consume, provided we store them properly. We can check to see if they are still okay with their smell or if there are any holes or mold in the mix.
If you notice anything off with the mix, then it’s best to throw it out right away.
Why Shouldn’t You Freeze-Dry Wet Mixes?
Never freeze-dry a wet mix with rising reagents already added if you want your final baked product to be soft and fluffy. Instead, either freeze-dry a wet mix without reactive agents added – or freeze-dry the wet ingredients and add them to the dry mix. Then, store it for the long term.
It’s best to store mixes dry and only add water once ready to bake. If we have added water to a mix and would like to freeze-dry it to make it last longer, most reactive agents will be half or fully spent, resulting in a flatter-than-usual end product (like pancakes).
That being said, most baking powders and sodas here in the USA are double-acting. Double-acting powders and sodas will have a secondary reaction when baked.
So even if you freeze-dry the wet mix, your end product could still be fine. It won’t be as light, fluffy, and airy as it usually is.
The other way to do things is to go ahead and make the whole mix – but don’t add any of the rising agents to the mix yet. You’ll add those after you freeze-dry the wet mix.
Here are some reasons you wouldn’t want to freeze-dry the following wet mixes.
Pancake mix has baking powder (and/or baking soda) that activates once we add water. It’s the reactive agent to help them rise. Baking powders and sodas cause the pancakes to become light and fluffy.
Before freeze-drying any wet mixture, check if the baking powder and/or baking soda are double-action. A double-action baking reagent will help the pancakes be fluffy when baked, even after freeze-drying the wet mix. However, they won’t be as fluffy as you’re used to. This is because you’ll have lost one of the reactions after freeze-drying the wet mix.
Some people are fine having their pancakes on the flat side. Taste-wise, they are still pretty similar and taste great with syrup or honey drizzled on top. If you’re the type who is okay with having flat pancakes, go ahead and freeze-dry the wet mixes without any worry.
The wet pancake mix will revert to its powdered form when freeze-dried. Store it in a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber or vacuum-sealed containers.
Like the wet pancake mix, we’ll get the same results with waffles, with the slight chance of the batter burning if we don’t check it enough. This happens because the mix won’t rise since we already added water the first time. This is because we have already activated the baking powder.
To make waffles that rise correctly, check if the baking powder is double-action. If we want to be sure, we can always create our own dry mix so that we know it’s safely freeze-dried.
Keep the freeze-dried waffle mix in a mylar bag with an oxygen absorber to keep moisture out.
Many people store waffle batter since it’s easier to whip them up on lazy mornings. Consider this another storage option if you plan to cook the batter in the next few days.
Freeze-drying a wet cake mix is a surefire way to end up with a flat cake.
If you’re buying a pre-made cake mix from the store, just leave it in the box until you’re ready to use it. Those mixes last forever (almost).
If you’re making your own cake mix, put all the dry ingredients together. Then, freeze-dry the wet ingredients, add them to the dry mix, and store that in a vacuum-sealed container for as long as you need to.
Pizza dough and bread dough can also be freeze-dried but adding water to them later usually makes bread that won’t rise and an extremely doughy pizza crust. Yeast is another rising agent that activates once it comes into contact with water.
If we’re planning on freeze-drying dough, it’s best to separate the yeast and add it when we decide to rehydrate the mixture. Be sure to mix the yeast into the dough well before baking it, though.
How Long Does it Take to Freeze-Dry a Mix?
If the mix is wet, it should take about ten hours to freeze-dry completely. Most freeze-dryers can sense when the food is ready to be taken out of the chamber and will stop once all the moisture is expelled.
That said, some mixes may take longer to freeze-dry, depending on how much water is in them and how you’ve loaded the batter into the trays.
Silicone molds are the best way to load any wet thing into a freeze-dryer. In our article here, you can read more about how they’re safe and how to do it: Can You Use Silicone in a Freeze-Dryer? Things to Know.
How to Prepare a Full Mix for Long-Term Storage
The best way to prepare any mix for long-term storage is to put it in an air-tight container, add an oxygen absorber, and vacuum-seal the container. Store the container in a controlled environment for the best long-term results possible.
Proper storage is always the answer for products to last as long as possible. One way is to store a dry mix in a mylar bag, add an oxygen absorber, and vacuum seal it to keep moisture from the dry mixture.
We can freeze-dry these wet ingredients, including eggs and milk. Once the wet ingredients are freeze-dried, we can powder them. We choose to keep them separate or add and store them together with the dry mix.
Keep the entire mix in a cool dark place in storage. Please don’t add water to the mixes and put them into a freeze-dryer unless you’re sure it has a double-acting rising agent. Even then, think really hard about it before you do it.
Will baking powder or baking soda freeze-dry in a mix?
If the mix we used is already wet, the baking powder or soda may not survive the freeze-drying process as its reaction may be half or fully spent. However, baking soda or powder can be skipped initially, then added when the mix is reconstituted to prevent loss of any rising reaction.
If you skip the baking soda and/or baking powder at first, you can always add it later. This way, you can freeze-dry the wet mix, then store it long-term in its powdered form. You could even add the right amount of baking soda or powder to the powdered, freeze-dried mix before you store it.
How Do You Store a Dry Mix Long-Term?
Store the mix in a mylar bag or airtight container and add an oxygen absorber. These mixes usually do not last as long as they should because moisture and oxygen get inside the packaging. Store the now properly sealed mix in a controlled environment for the best results.
In our article, How to Freeze Dry and Store Your Favorite Foods: Guide with Pictures, you can read more about how to do all of that properly.
Does a Dry Mix Go Bad?
Dry mixes can last a long time in their original packaging, though they will last much longer in an airtight container that’s got an oxygen absorber and has been vacuum-sealed. Most mixes are fine for 3-4 months past their posted expiration date or can last a year or more in storage.
Pancake mix doesn’t go bad since it’s usually made up of dry ingredients, but it might not be as fluffy if we don’t use it before the expiration date. Usually, we can still use expired pancake mix for another two to three months after it expires.
Those making their own mixes from scratch must find other ways to figure out when the mixture goes bad. The smell test is usually pretty reliable, even if it isn’t super-scientific.
How Can You Tell If the Mix Goes Bad?
There are numerous ways to tell when we should throw out a pancake mix. First, if there are clumps or mold inside the package, moisture managed to get into the mix. Other things to look for are a foul odor and pests. Inspecting the mix before baking or consuming it is a good idea.
Sometimes a mix can go bad even if it’s not past its expiration date. Usually, the cause is bad storage conditions, or bugs might have found their way into the pantry and decided they want to nibble on the plastic. When this happens, throw out the mix before the expiration date.
If we’re unsure, take a whiff of the mix to confirm. Usually, there will be a very distinct smell of mold, or, in some cases, it will be very sour if the mix has already gone bad. Consider moving locations when storing the next mix or double-check the package for any possible holes.
If the package has holes, mold might not be the only problem. Holes indicate there is a chance some pantry pests have gotten into the mix. We usually see them burrowing holes in the mix if they are alive, or their bodies might be visible if we shake the mix a little.
If the mix is already open and we didn’t repackage it very well, there’s a high chance it isn’t good – unless it’s only a few days old. However, if it’s been long enough that you don’t remember the last time you used it, then it’s safest to discard the mix.
If it’s been more than a few days since using the mix, it’s always recommended to check it again for mold, spores, pests, and other problems. If we find anything that shouldn’t be there, we should get rid of the entire package.
If we bought a packaged pre-made mix, it’s usually safe to eat past its expiration date as long as we stored it well. However, if we’ve already opened the package, it’s good to check and see how the mix looks from time to time or transfer it into a mylar bag so we can seal it.
How Long Does a Dry Mix Last in Mylar Bags?
A dry mix lasts 6 to 12 months in its original packaging. Dry mixes can last in a Mylar bag longer if sealed well. It is probably best to refer to the expiration date on the original container for premade mixes. Homemade mixes will need to be checked regularly and before use.
Because homemade mixes don’t come with a convenient expiration date, we’ll have to check it from time to time for any signs of spoilage.
- The mix will last longer if it’s in an airtight container.
- It’ll last even longer in a Mylar bag.
- It will last even longer if the mylar bag has an oxygen absorber.
- The mix will last much longer if it has all of the above and is vacuum sealed.
- Do all the above and store the container in a temperature, humidity, and light-controlled area for the absolute longest possible storage time.
Then, enjoy the final result whenever you get around to your mix. If you notice that things aren’t as light as they usually do, try adding a little extra baking soda or powder (as the recipe originally directed) before baking. Leavening agents don’t go bad, but they lose their potency after several months.
We wrote an article just for you on storing food in Mylar bags. Read this: How to Freeze Dry and Store Your Favorite Foods: Guide with Pictures.
How Does a Dry Mix Last in Mason Jars?
A mix may last months or years in a mason jar if it has an oxygen absorber, is vacuum-sealed, and stored in an appropriate room. However, the chances of humidity, air, and light getting into the jar are higher than for Mylar bags, so a mix in a mason jar won’t last as long as one in a Mylar bag.
To be safe, make sure it’s stored in a dry area. Compared to a plastic container, it is less likely for bugs or any other pests to be able to get inside the mason jar. So a mason jar is a definite step up over any plastic containers!
While we don’t need to worry much about pests, checking the mixture for any odd clumping, molds, and spores that may form in case moisture manages to get inside is advisable.
What Happens When I Freeze-Dry Cooked Waffles and Pancakes?
Freeze-drying cooked waffles and pancakes are a great way to store uneaten food. They can be eaten crunchy or reconstituted when needed for a quick breakfast or meal. Reconstitute freeze-dried waffles and pancakes slowly via humidity rather than soaking.
Why not make a fun and easy snack for the kids or ourselves? Freeze-dried mini pancakes become crunchy to the bite instead of a fluffy texture. They’re a light snack that helps us get through the day, especially if we decide to go on a little camping trip. They’re like rice cakes, but more filling.
It’s a great way to treat the kids if there is a long drive ahead. The light, mildly sweet snack will surely satisfy kids and adults alike. Just make sure everyone has enough to drink. Otherwise, everyone will be a bit backed up later! Okay, so maybe not freeze-dried foods on a long trip – unless you schedule plenty of toilet stops!
Freeze-dried waffles are also a great snack, especially if we want something sweet to munch on. These are slightly heavier than pancakes, so we can have these for an on-the-go breakfast.
What’s great about both these snacks is that they last up to ten years if stored correctly.
Are There Mixes Better Consumed As Freeze-Dried Dough?
While most mixes are better baked and then freeze-dried as a snack, brownies are best freeze-dried as dough. People can buy brownie dough in the dairy section. Pillsbury sells brownie dough that is already cut up and ready to be baked—or in this case, freeze-dried.
Make sure there is enough space between chunks or pieces when laying them out in the tray. Some people prefer cutting the dough into smaller pieces and creating brownie bites. Once fully freeze-dried, these are safe to eat, or if we like, we can rehydrate these bites and bake them.
If we choose to bake the freeze-dried dough, don’t turn it into powder and mix it with water. We can rehydrate it in a damp paper towel a few hours before baking for better results.
Hopefully, this article will save you time, headache, and worry about why your mix failed when the baking time comes around.
A huge shout-out to my children, friends, and family for their help in understanding leavening agents over the years.
- I first learned that US-based baking sodas and powders were dual-activated when a family member complained that other countries use single-action leavening agents. That led me down a huge research rabbit hole!
- My children have been learning to bake – and we’ve had some interesting experiments with baking soda and baking powder! Getting too much in a recipe (or too little) leads to some interesting discussions. Interestingly, getting too much in a recipe makes the final product taste salty.
- Lots of experience freeze-drying various mixes – and then figuring out why they failed at baking time.
We have many interesting articles to read on freeze-drying your favorite foods. Go check those out next!
- Are Freeze-Dried Foods Just as Nutritious? Let’s See!
- How to Freeze Dry and Store Your Favorite Foods: Guide with Pictures.
- What Is Freeze-Dried Candy? Complete Guide.
Seriously. If you can’t decide which one to read next, go read the candy one.
Learning from your own experience is essential, but learning from others is also intelligent. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homesteaders.
Learning from your own experience is essential, but learning from others is also intelligent. These are the sources used in this article and our research to be more informed as homesteaders.
- Does Pancake Mix Go Bad? Storage, Shelf Life, Spoilage. (2022, June 1). Does It Go Bad? Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://www.doesitgobad.com/does-pancake-mix-go-bad/
- Skrzypiec, M. (2021, August 26). How Long Does Pancake Mix Last? Can It Go Bad? Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://www.canitgobad.net/can-pancake-mix-go-bad.
- Vuković, D. (2021, July 5). How to Store Pancake Mix in Bulk or Long-Term. Primal Survivor. Retrieved September 23, 2022, from https://www.primalsurvivor.net/store-pancake-mix/