September 28, 2022

Best astronaut ice cream and space food

Creating delicious space dishes for astronauts has long been a concern of space agencies.

If they want a human mission to last more than a few hours without your crew getting irritable or distracted, you need to feed them

But in the early Mercury missions, it quickly became apparent that food served another important purpose: maintaining morale.

Mercury 7 astronauts received unappetizing meals served like dough in a tube, and that was one of their biggest complaints about the mission.

Today, space agencies around the world devote much of their time to preparing the best possible food for their crews during their long stays on the International Space Station (ISS).

Expedition 55 crew members (left to right) Anton N. Shkaplerov, Oleg G. Artemev and Norishige Kanai eating sushi on the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

How is astronaut food made?

The absence of gravity means that many foods we eat easily on Earth are impossible in space.

Meanwhile, the lack of storage space and the need for food to last for months or even years place additional constraints on how food is processed. What do astronauts eat in space?

In many cases, shelf stable ingredients can be used to pre-cook meals and then vacuum sealed in bags or boxes as glorified ready meals.

However, sometimes it is better to dehydrate foods by removing as much water as possible, usually by freeze-drying.

This places the food in a high vacuum drawing up to 98% of the water, and it can then be rehydrated later.

Today, the ISS has a special kitchen with hot and cold water taps, as well as a stove to heat up meals.

Multiple pouches labeled - Intermediate Moisture, Natural Form, Thermostabilized/Aseptic Fill, Rehydratable and Beverage.

A range of space foods available on the Space Shuttle, showing the range of food preservation methods. Credit: NASA

What does food taste like in space?

The effect of microgravity does not change the chemical structure of most food, so food should in theory taste the same on Earth as it does in orbit.

However, this causes fluids to shift in the body, which means some astronauts are congested and can’t taste as well as they can here on Earth.

For this reason, one of the favorite condiments on the ISS is Tabasco sauce.

What do astronauts eat on the ISS?

Astronaut Tim Peak floats on the ISS surrounded by fresh apples and oranges

British astronaut Tim Peake admires a recent delivery of fresh fruit.

Today, astronauts have a wide menu to choose from.

Each space agency is responsible for feeding its astronaut, although it’s not uncommon for crew members to trade meals – especially when a new shipment of cargo arrives, bringing with it a shipment of fresh fruit.

In addition to special holiday meals, each crew member is allowed to request a number of “bonus foods”, usually local specialties or personal favorites.

Ahead of his 2015-2016 mission, British astronaut Tim Peake worked with celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal to develop essential British classics, such as chicken curry, beef stew and a bacon sarnie.

The latter was a slightly iffy option, as breadcrumbs can foul instruments, as John Young discovered in 1965 when he slipped a corned beef sandwich aboard Gemini 3.

However, Heston used dense bread which was then baked in a box to create a crustless option.

When Peake arrived at the ISS, he found that his teammates had already prepared one, waiting for him.

Listen to our interview with Tim Peake on our Radio Astronomy podcast to learn more about his time on the ISS.

Do they eat astronaut ice cream on the ISS?

Astronauts unpack ice cream on board the ISS (clockwise from left) Thomas Pesquet, Shane Kimbroug and Akihiko Hoshide. Credit: ESA/Thomas Pesquet

In space, no one can hear you screaming for ice cream, unless you’re on the ISS.

For the past few years, astronauts have been getting real ice cream thanks to SpaceX’s Dragon cargo vehicle, which has a freezer.

The catch is that they only have the month the vehicle is docked to eat it – a big ordeal, I’m sure.

What you won’t find, however, is freeze-dried ice cream – most astronauts say it’s too dry and sweet for their taste and creates too many crumbs.

But that hasn’t stopped “astronaut” ice cream from becoming a hit with the public and the tasty treat can often be found in gift shops and science museums, serving as a delicious way to learn about the dilemmas when it comes to meal planning in space. .

Here we list our top picks of “astronaut” ice cream and space food for you to have fun with or give as a space-themed gift to your dearest astro-nut.

Looking for more cosmic candies and space snacks? Read our list of the best space candies.

Or are you looking for a great space-themed gift? Discover our space gifts for children and our space gifts for adults.

The best astronaut ice cream

Astronaut cookies and ice cream sandwich

This ice cream sandwich is made from a slice of freeze-dried ice cream that has been sprinkled with cookie pieces, then sandwiched between two chocolate wafers.

The result is a delicious treat that will stay together despite the crumbly filling.

It’s made in the USA using the same freeze-drying process used by NASA to freeze astronaut food in time, but not in temperature.

The silver airtight bag (besides looking great) keeps the product dry, so it should be stable for years.

This would make a great space themed gift for a child (or adult) who has always dreamed of being an astronaut.

Super Garden Mango Astronaut Ice Cream

This freeze-dried ice cream uses its own technique that transforms the ice cream directly from ice cream to steam, without going through the liquid stage.

This maintains the structure of the ice cream, while keeping the delicate mango flavor intact.

Made from quality ingredients, the ice cream is vegan, gluten-free and lactose-free, which means it’s an appropriate space-themed gift for any adult obsessed with astronauts.

Makes a great snack on its own, but also works for a camping trip, can be sprinkled on your morning cereal, or to recreate a mission to Mars in your own home.

To protect the delicate pieces, which tend to crumble during transport, it comes in a strong, resealable, reusable and recyclable airtight jar.

There are several different flavors available, including classics like Chocolate and strawberryas well as the weirdest Vanilla with hard cheese and cranberries.

Vegan freeze-dried strawberry ice cream

If you are looking for an ice cream that will never melt in the summer sun, this might be the option for you.

The 30g bag contains six scoops of vegan strawberry ice cream made and freeze dried here in the UK by EmsEatsUK.

Comes in a resealable pouch so you don’t have to worry about rehydrating if you don’t eat them all at once (but I won’t stop you if you want!).

Also available in Chocolate, mint chocolate chip, raspberry ripple and cookie dough.

Mini Super Garden Chewing Gum Ice Cream

This ice cream is formed into hundreds of little scoops – perfect for a little treat on its own or sprinkled over your morning cereal.

If you’re looking for a gift or just want to try, there’s a 60g jar, but if you really like them, you can buy a 1kg resealable bag to supply you with for months.

Suitable for vegetarians.

Best space food for astronaut

Strawberry space food

Today, the ISS receives shipments of supplies every two months, many of which come with a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, but in between they occasionally snack on freeze-dried fruit.

These pouches contain freeze-dried whole strawberries that can be eaten straight from the pack.

Although they are crunchy initially, the moisture in your mouth rehydrates the fruit, it will begin to bring out the flavor.

Freeze-dried skittles

Astronauts regularly request Skittles, M&Ms, Reeses Bites and many other snacks on the ISS.

Since these are already stable, the only preparation they need is repackaging (otherwise they would have to test the packaging of each product to see if it gives off harmful gases in microgravity).

But it didn’t stop Science Fiction Foods UK to give candies a space makeover and freeze-dry them anyway.

These candies turn the chewy Skittles we know so well into crunchy puffs of fruity flavor.

Available in 40g, 100g and 200g sachets.

Astronaut Food Cinnamon Apple Wedges

While freshly picked apples are famous for their crunch, over time they lose their crunch.

Not so with these freeze-dried versions, which can retain their crispy texture for years and years.