Creating delicious space food for astronauts to eat has long been a concern of space agencies.
If they want a human mission to last longer than a few hours without your crew getting nervous or distracted, feed them
But on Mercury’s early expeditions, it soon became apparent that food served another important purpose – maintaining morale.
Mercury 7 astronauts were given unappetizing meals that served as dough in a tube, and it was one of their biggest complaints about the mission.
Space agencies around the world today spend a lot of their dedicated time serving the best possible food to their crews during their extended stays on the International Space Station (ISS).
How is astronaut food made?
The lack of gravity means that many of the foods we easily eat on Earth are impossible in space.
Meanwhile, the lack of storage space and the need for food to last for months, or even years, puts additional restrictions on how foods can be processed. So what do astronauts eat in space?
In many cases, it is possible to use shelf-stable ingredients to pre-cook meals and then vacuum seal them into bags or tins as ready meals.
However, sometimes it is best to dry the food and remove as much water as possible, usually by freeze drying.
This places the food in a powerful vacuum that draws in up to 98% of the water, which can then be rehydrated at a later time.
Today, the International Space Station has its own kitchen with hot and cold water taps, as well as a fireplace for heating meals.
What does food taste like in space?
The effect of microgravity does not change the chemical composition of most foodstuffs, so food should theoretically taste the same on Earth as it does in orbit.
However, it causes fluids in the body to shift, which means that some astronauts are congested and can’t taste like they can here on Earth.
For this reason, Tabasco sauce is one of the favorite seasonings on the International Space Station.
What do astronauts eat on the International Space Station?
Today, astronauts have an extensive list to choose from.
Each space agency is responsible for feeding the astronaut, although it is not uncommon for crew members to exchange meals—particularly when a new shipment arrives, accompanied by a shipment of fresh fruit.
In addition to special holiday meals, each crew member is allowed to order a certain number of “extra foods,” usually local dishes or personal favourites.
Prior to his 2015-2016 mission, British astronaut Tim Peake worked with celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal to develop staple British classics, such as chicken curry and beef and bacon stew.
The latter was a somewhat uncertain choice, as breadcrumbs could devour tools, as John Young discovered in 1965 when he snuck a beef sandwich aboard the Gemini 3.
Heston, however, used thickened bread that was then cooked in a tin to make a non-crunchy cucumber.
When Beck arrived at the International Space Station, he found his fellow crew members had already cooked one, waiting for him.
Hear our interview with Tim Peake on our Astronomy Radio podcast to learn more about his time on the International Space Station.
Do astronauts eat ice cream on the International Space Station?
In space, no one can hear you screaming for ice cream – unless you’re on the International Space Station.
Over the past few years, astronauts have been getting real ice cream thanks to the SpaceX Dragon cargo ship, which has a refrigerator installed.
The catch is that they only have a month to dock the car to eat it – and I’m sure it’s a huge hardship.
What you won’t find though is freeze-dried ice cream—most astronauts say it’s too dry and sweet for their tastes, and creates a lot of crumb.
But that hasn’t stopped “astronaut” ice cream from becoming popular with the public, and the delicious dessert can often be found in gift stores and science museums, and is a delicious way to spot dilemmas when it comes to meal planning in space. .
Here we list our top picks of “astronaut” ice cream, and space food for your fun, or give as a space-themed gift to your dearest astrological husband.
Looking for more cosmic candy and space snacks? Read our list of the best space desserts.
Or maybe you’re looking for a good space-themed gift? Then check out space gifts for kids and space gifts for adults.
Best astronaut ice cream
Astronaut cookies and ice cream sandwich
This ice cream sandwich is made with a slice of freeze-dried ice cream that’s sprinkled with crackers, then sandwiched between two chocolate chips.
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 that NASA uses to freeze astronauts’ food just in time, but not at the temperature.
An airtight silver bag (as well as looking great) keeps product dry, so it should be shelf-stable for years to come.
This would be a great space-themed gift for a child (or adult) who has always dreamed of becoming an astronaut.
Super Garden Mango Astronaut Ice Cream
This freeze-dried ice cream uses its own special technique that converts ice directly from ice to steam, without going through a liquid phase.
This preserves the structure of the ice cream, while keeping the delicate mango flavor intact.
Made with the highest quality ingredients, the ice cream is vegan-friendly and gluten- and lactose-free which means it’s a fitting space-themed gift for any adult astronaut-obsessed.
It’s a great snack in its own right, but it also works for a camping trip, can be sprinkled over your morning breakfast cereal or to bring back a mission to Mars in your home.
To protect delicate pieces, which tend to fall apart in transit, this comes in a sturdy, airtight container that can be re-sealed, reused and recycled.
Many different flavors are available, including classic ones like chocolate and strawberry, as well as the more exotic vanilla with hard cheese and cranberry.
Freeze-dried strawberry ice cream
If you are looking for an ice cream that never melts in the summer sun, then this might be the right choice for you.
The 30-gram bag contains six balls of vegan-friendly strawberry ice cream that is made and freeze-dried right here in the UK by EmsEatsUK.
It comes in a resealable bag, so you don’t have to worry about rehydrating if you don’t eat it all at once (but I won’t stop you if you want to!).
Also available in Chocolate, Chocolate Mint, Raspberry Ripple and Cookie Dough.
Super Garden bubble gum ice cream
Made from hundreds of tiny balls, this ice cream is perfect for a little dessert on its own or sprinkled on your morning cereal.
If you’re looking for a gift or just want to give it a try, there’s a 60g tub, but if you really enjoy it, you can buy a 1kg resealable bag to supply you for several months.
Suitable for vegetarians.
The best astronaut food
strawberry space food
Today, the International Space Station gets shipments of supplies every two months, many of which come with a selection of fresh fruits and vegetables, but between those they occasionally snack on frozen dried fruit.
These bags contain whole dried strawberries that can be eaten straight from the package.
Although it starts out crunchy, the moisture in your mouth rehydrates the fruit and it will start to bring out the flavor.
Freeze Dried Bowling
Astronauts regularly order Skittles, M&Ms, Reeses, and many other snacks on the International Space Station.
Since these are already shelf stable, the only setup they need is refilling (otherwise they would have to test each product’s packaging individually to see if it emits any harmful gases in microgravity).
But that didn’t stop Sci-fi Foods UK from giving their desserts a modern look, freeze-drying them anyway.
This dessert transforms our familiar Skittles into crunchy puffs of fruity flavour.
It comes in 40gm, 100gm and 200gm sachets.
astronaut food cinnamon apple wedges
While freshly picked apples are well known for their crunch, over time they lose their brittleness.
Not so with these freeze-dried versions, which can keep their crisp texture for years and years.