When Patrick Gartin came across a home freeze-dryer for the first time, he was intrigued. An outdoor enthusiast, he’d been making his own jerky for years, and he liked the idea of expanding his repertoire of shelf-stable snacks.
Once he started experimenting, he couldn’t stop, and friends recommended that he sell his creations. “The next thing I knew, we were off to the races,” he says.
In 2018, Gartin launched Fast and Forever Foods in Springfield, Missouri; today, he has his own commercial kitchen, nine freeze-dryers, four commercial dehydrators and a loyal following at the Farmers Market of the Ozarks.
Freeze-dried fruits are particularly popular, and Gartin offers 15 to 20 varieties, including apples, berries, kiwi, mango, peaches, pineapple and strawberries, on any given Saturday. He also freeze-dries munchies such as saltwater taffy, yogurt drops and sweet corn kernels, which he says people eat like popcorn.
Unlike other methods of preservation, freeze-drying typically doesn’t shrink or toughen the food, retaining its natural shape, color, flavor and texture. The age-old technique also preserves most of the food’s nutrients, taking the term “shelf-stable” to the next level.
“It’s [approximately] 97 percent retention of the nutrients,” says Gartin. “So it’s good, nutritious food with long-term storage [capabilities].” And he means long term – as in 25 years if packaged properly.
Fast and Forever Foods’ array of freeze-dried and dehydrated items also includes Gartin’s signature beef and bison jerkies. Soon, he hopes to sell whole meals, which can easily be rehydrated, heated and served, as well. Can you imagine enjoying beef stew, mac ‘n’ cheese or even enchiladas on your next backpacking trip? It’s all possible with freeze-drying.
Considering his continuously growing customer base, Gartin has sought new points of sale. In the coming weeks, his freeze-dried delicacies will be available at Metro Eats and the Greater Springfield Farmers’ Market, both in Springfield, as well as the Branson Farmers Market in Branson, Missouri.
If you don’t know what to try first, follow Gartin’s advice: “What do you like fresh?” he asks. “That’s a good indicator of what you’ll like freeze-dried.”
Currently, Fast and Forever Foods products are available at the Farmers Market of the Ozarks in Springfield, Missouri, on Saturday from 8am to 1pm. For pre-orders and special requests, text owner Patrick Gartin at 417.812.3105.
Fast and Forever Foods, fastandforeverfoods.com