I've been looking at pre-made mason-jar meals recently and notice a lot of recipes use freeze dried food. Namely, Cheff Tess' (presumably a spokesperson for Honeyville Foods) meal-in-a-jar mixes. I can dehydrate my own fruits, veggies and spices, and would rather add those to my stored meals than purchased freeze dried food. Are dehydrated foods equivalent to freeze dried when it comes to cooking? Will I need to modify anything to make this substitution?
I think the issue here is long term storage. If you are only going to keep the food for weeks to a couple of months, I think your home dehydrated products should be perfectly acceptable.
Depending on your application—and I make no value judgements here—if you need to store the food for considerably longer for whatever reason, then you want to be sure nearly all of the water has been removed, and commercially freeze-dried products are going to be more reliable.
Also, according to wikipedia:
Freeze-dried products can be rehydrated [sic] (reconstituted) much more quickly and easily because the process leaves microscopic pores. The pores are created by the ice crystals that sublimate, leaving gaps or pores in their place.
For another perspective, the vendor Rainy Day Foods says:
When comparing freeze dried foods to dehydrated foods, there are advantages to both. Some advantages of freeze dried foods are that they are light in weight and reconstitute quickly and will have the appearance of fresh foods when reconstituted. A disadvantage to freeze dried foods is that they will take up more space for storage because they are lighter and more space is needed to store the same amount (in weight) as dehydrated foods. Advantages to dehydrated foods are less space is needed to store a large amount of food and it is economical to purchase. Freeze dried foods can be a great deal more expensive than dehydrated foods.
So in answer to the ongoing question of whether freeze dried foods or dehydrated foods are better – only the consumer can determine which is best depending on his or her own personal needs and preferences.
However, they are addressing commercially dehydrated or freeze-dried products, not home prepared products.
Your home dehydrated foods will probably retain more moisture and have less even quality control than commercial processes. For this reason, they may not be as shelf stable.
For most uses, though, especially if you are making "meals in a jar" for convenience or short term emergency preparedness, not long term (years) of storage, your home dehydrated fruits and vegetables should be just fine.