Peoria business offers freeze


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Apr 27, 2023

Peoria business offers freeze

Molly Olsen and Sandi Long quickly discovered their shared passion for food and

Molly Olsen and Sandi Long quickly discovered their shared passion for food and cooking after meeting around eight years ago.

Olsen said she and Long had discussed dreams of operating a small business at farmers markets for a while. Recently, though, the pair developed an interest in what would become their primary product.

"(Our families) like freeze-dried fruit, and it goes really quickly," Olsen said. "So, I got a freeze dryer for Christmas, and we just kind of decided, ‘All right, let's start a business.’"

Long and Olsen launched Little Bird Nest LLC this year — with plans to sell freeze-dried food and other homemade products at farmers markets and vendor events throughout the summer.

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What is freeze-dried food? Freeze-drying is a method of preserving food. While the process removes water like dehydrating, Olsen said freeze-dried fruits and vegetables are a bit different.

"The way I explain it is like a dehydrated grape is a raisin, but a freeze-dried grape would be crunchy and wouldn't have lost any of its shape," Olsen said.

Freeze-dried products: Customers can find freeze-dried fruits and vegetables at Little Bird Nest, but Olsen said freeze-dried candy is one of the business's primary items.

Some of Little Bird Nest's candies include:

The process of freeze-drying candy takes less time than fruits or vegetables — though Olsen said it can still take up to 12 hours — and offers a unique item for the community to try.

"The process has been around for a long time, but the whole freeze-drying of candy is kind of a new thing," she said.

Moving into the future, Olsen said she and Long would like to develop their own products and recipes to put in the freeze drier, as well. She said the next step would be to get into a commercial kitchen.

Other products: Olsen and Long also sell jams, canned goods and homemade honey and syrups.

"We tap the trees and we raise the bees," she said.

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Vendor events and pop-ups: The business has attended events like the Makers Market, and Olsen and Long said they will continue going to craft fairs, events and pop-ups.

"We're just trying to get out there wherever," Olsen said. "We just think it's really fun. We both love talking to people and seeing their reaction, like Sandi said, and it's just a lot of fun for us."

Farmers markets: Little Bird Nest will sell at the Peoria Heights Farmers Market, which begins on May 24. The market runs from 4 to 7 p.m. on Wednesdays.

Long and Olsen also hope to sell at the Peoria RiverFront Market but said they are waiting to hear about their application.

Online orders: Olsen said people can reach out about preorders for markets or deliveries via email or through Facebook.

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Thai food or tacos? What is freeze-dried food? Freeze-dried products: Saltwater taffy: "Taste the rainbow": Charlies: Caramels and gummies: Other products: Hungry for more? Vendor events and pop-ups: Spring Fling Market: East Peoria Shop Hop: Elmwood Strawberry Festival: Farmers markets: Online orders: 'There's going to be a void': Email: Facebook: Sweet dreams: