A sweetness twist: freeze-dried candies

Q&A with Lory Clovis and and Shirley Krawece, owners of Clovis Creations

Sisters Lory Clovis, left, and Shirley Krawece are partners in Clovis Creations, which makes wood-burned products as well as provides furniture refurbishing but has recently expanded to also produce freeze-dried fruits and candies. Photo was taken at the Rycroft Farmers’ Market, where they recently showcased their products.

By Beverly Lomosad

Lory Clovis couldn’t believe her eyes. At a farmer’s market in Fort St. John, which she attended, a vendor was making a killing selling freeze-fried candies. Right there and then she made a decision she must get on the candy bandwagon. Freeze drying was a foreign concept to her, but she studied it and researched on it. Soon after, she acquired a brand-new freeze dryer and took the traditional favourites like Saltwater Taffy, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Skittles, Airheads, and Jolly Ranchers as well as fruits then transformed them into irresistibly crunchy and melt-in-your-mouth treats.

How did you develop your new product line of freeze-dried fruits and candies?
My sister, Shirley Krawece, and I were at a farmer’s market in Fort St. John last summer, and one of the vendors there was selling freeze-dried candies. People were buying his stuff. I mean, he was crazy busy. I had my a-ha moment right there and then. That day, I saw the potential of the freeze-dried candy business.

Then my son and his girlfriend came home one day with a little pamphlet. Guess what? It was for a freeze dryer machine. They were contemplating buying one, and our conversation just led to a decision to jointly purchase a new freeze dryer.

Is the concept of freeze drying already at the back of your mind before you saw that vendor in Fort St. John?
No. That’s where I saw freeze-dried candies for the first time. I started reading and watching videos after that – just trying to learn as much as I can about freeze drying.

Talk a little bit about how the freeze dryer works.
Freeze dryers are driven by food-preservation technology. Freeze-dried foods have longer shelf life. When properly stored, many freeze-dried foods can last as long as 25 years all the while retaining their flavour and nutritional value. The freeze-drying process is somewhat different for candies and for other food items such as vegetables, fruits and meats. Generally, however, the process involves initially freezing the food to minus-40 degrees Fahrenheit or colder. Once the food is frozen, the machine then creates a powerful vacuum. In that environment, water sublimates (evaporates) out of the food. When done properly, freeze drying virtually removes all of the moisture from the food. The machine has intuitive controls that make the whole process easy to navigate through. To rehydrate the food, simply add water, and it regains its original fresh flavour, aroma and appearance.

The next step is for the freeze-dried food to be sealed in moisture-proof and oxygen-proof packaging (I use Mylar bags) along with an oxygen absorber to ensure freshness until opened.

How long is the freeze-drying process?
The machine will alert the user when the process is complete. The duration of the process varies depending on what is being freeze dried. To be honest, we haven’t fully explored the machine for everything that it could potentially do. The machine comes in various sizes. So, if one intends to produce more on an hourly basis, perhaps the option is to buy a machine with more trays. I have a five-tray freeze dryer. I think there’s a machine with fewer than five trays and also one with as many as eight trays.

How long have you been making freeze-dried candies?
We bought the machine about three months ago, and we started experimenting on how we can use it best right away. So, we’ve only had about a three-month traction in making freeze-dried fruits and candies. Business has been good, and within that short span of time, the machine, which is quite expensive, is now more than halfway paid for.

So, what freeze-dried candies do you have available for sale right now?
I have Saltwater Taffy, Ice Cream Sandwiches, Skittles, Airheads, Jolly Ranchers and an assortment of fruits.

Do you have competitors in the area that also make and sell freeze-dried candies?
Yes, there are several places from Hythe in the south to Peace River in the north as well as communities in between that offer freeze-dried candies. Some make and sell them as well as supply to other retailers.
For us, the addition of our freeze-dried candies and fruits is an expansion on our existing business, which provides wood-burned products as well as furniture refurbishing. In addition, I run the food concession at the MacLean Arena in the Town of Spirit River.

What’s the next step for your freeze-dried fruits and candies?
We will continue to get the word out there, and the farmer’s markets are probably the best places to do that. For sure, we will be at the Rycroft Thanksgiving Market on Saturday, October 7.


  • Phone: (780) 864-8499
  • E-mail: couglie@wispernet.ca