Freeze drying your harvest - is it for you?

Wendy S. Delmater
By Wendy S. Delmater on Fri, Jan 5, 2018 - 10:18pm

I've not bought or used a freeze dryer but a friend just did, and she's very happy with it. Has anyone here bought or used a freeze dryer?

Here's the one she bought.  

And they have a page on preserving your harvest. I might note that it does not have to be YOUR harvest, which might make this ideal for urban preppers. And it might be good for quantities: if I go to my local SC State farmer's market, I can get produce 1/4 the cost of supermarket food.  What is holding me back from doing more of that the the insane quantities you have to buy to get that discoun.t..it literally was more than I could can before some of it went bad. 

It's also a way to preserve meat and pressure canning that is a bear. 

Please chime in with your experiences, even if it's just you eating freeze dried food or a neighbor or friend having one of these. 

 

7 Comments

jdsfrisco's picture
jdsfrisco
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Feb 11 2016
Posts: 7
Keep it simple

I'm in no way oppossed to having a personal freeze dryer. But these units are expensive and complex. If you have a large volume of material that you wish to preserve - or if you're part of a larger community that preserves things collectively - this could work. I can see a Mormon stake invesing in such equiptment. But for most people on the household level... a plain old regular counter top dehydrator and/or pressure canner will do the same basic thing (preserve food) at a radically lower price point with seriously less complexity. That's the approach I've taken. https://granolashotgun.com/2017/11/04/chicken-pot-pie/

Also, if you have a large amount of freeze dried food on hand you'll also need an equally large store of potable water to reconstitute it. https://granolashotgun.com/2017/05/23/a-dry-run/

jwoff's picture
jwoff
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 18 2014
Posts: 4
I purchased a Harvest Right

I purchased a Harvest Right freeze dryer about 2 years ago.  After using it for 2 years I think its definitely worth the money. I originally wanted the home freeze dryer because I wanted a year supply of food.  When I first started my food storage supply I was buying freeze dried food from Mountain House.  Some things from Mountain House tasted good to my family but some things did not.  One of the things I like about Harvest Right freeze dryer is that it allows me to freeze dry meals that are our own family recipes.  We have four kids at home and some are picky eaters.  I noticed the quality of my food storage was MUCH HIGHER with the freeze dryer.  I only freeze dry food my family will eat.  I love having complete control over what I put in my mouth.  (I think this is a theme shared by many here at Peak Prosperity) 

We like to freeze dry soups. (my wife makes a fantastic minestrone soup)  She always makes a several batches at a time.  We used to put it in large Ziplock bags and then store it in the freezer. It is great for a nutritious, high quality dinner that is quick to make with our busy life style, but it takes up precious space in our freezer.  Now we freeze dry it and make instant soup that is amazing and it doesn't take up any room in the freezer.  We also freeze dry eggs from our chickens. (raw and scrambled) Other family favorites are desserts like ice cream sandwiches(think astronaut ice cream) and cheese cake.  We have 17 different types of fruit trees in our yard.  We also have a home vegetable garden.  The freeze dryer makes sure things don't go to waste.  My wife will buy things at the grocery store when things go on sale and we will freeze dry them.  When you freeze dry food, its my understanding that also helps preserve the nutrients better over other food preservation methods. 

Before I purchased the Harvest Right freeze dryer I heard the rumors about a steep learning curve.  However I was surprised that it wasn't very hard to use.  I watched several YouTube "how-to" videos about using the freeze dryer.  I do recommend changing the oil after every batch. To do this I recommend using the Harvey Filter. (think Big Berkey filter for oil.  Drain the dirty oil out of the vacuum pump and into the top of the Harvey Filter, then clean oil comes out the bottom which you put right back in the machine. It basically cleans the oil after each cycle.) This may sound hard but the Harvey filter makes maintenance easy. (about as hard as using the Big Berkey filter for water)

I have freeze dried food for other members of my extended family that have special diet issues. I have a nephew who has diabetes and other family members that have food allergies.  This helps augment there own food storage. 

Now what I don't like. - It is a large appliance.  When the vacuum pump runs it is noisy, so I don't have it set up in my kitchen, it is setup in our garage.  

In addition to having the Harvest Right freeze drier I own 2 Excalibur dehydrators, an All American pressure canner, and a Masterbuilt smoker.  I don't consider one better than the other, I use them all.

Harvest Right has excellent customer service. (like Nordstrom's") I bought my Harvest Right freeze dryer second hand. They were kind and took time to walk me through any questions I had, even though I didn't purchase it directly from them.

After owning it for 2 years I'm glad I bought it.  It is built like a tank and works great.

 

 

 

Michael_Rudmin's picture
Michael_Rudmin
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 25 2014
Posts: 772
Couple questions, JWoff:

First, what size freeze dryer did you get (gal)?

Second, does it help reduce the cycle to pre-dry food? Can you dry more at a time if you do?

Don35's picture
Don35
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 4 2012
Posts: 43
tools

I have one. It is another tool in preserving my farm harvest. I do still can, dehydrate, and freeze. I like best that I can set it and walk away.

jwoff's picture
jwoff
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 18 2014
Posts: 4
Does it help reduce the cycle to pre-dry food?

It helps reduce the cycle to pre-FREEZE your food.  The Harvest Right freeze dryers first step in freeze drying process is to take the temperature down from room temperature to about -40 degrees.  We have a Kenmore Elite chest freezer right next to the freeze dryer.  The temperature on my chest freezer is set to -10 degrees.  I called Harvest Right and bought an extra set of trays. While I am already freeze drying something in the freeze dryer, I will fill up the other set of trays and stick them in the chest freezer.  The chest freezer will take the batch down to -10 degrees.  When I take the batch out of the chest freezer and put it into the freeze dryer it only needs to reduce the temperature of the batch from -10 degrees to -40 degrees.  This reduces the cycle time considerably and makes the whole process more efficient.  (I have the exact freeze dryer shown in the picture above.  My freeze dryer has 4 trays.)

NickAdams10's picture
NickAdams10
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Joined: Feb 5 2015
Posts: 24
A review

Survivalblog did an extensive review of this freeze dryer a few years ago. I'd love to buy one myself, but it's inherently complex, which, for me, means more chances for stuff to break.

jwoff's picture
jwoff
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 18 2014
Posts: 4
Survivalblog Review: conclusion "I would buy it in a heartbeat"

Survival Blog Review %Spoiler%

Would I Purchase This Freeze Drier?

In a heartbeat! After having played around with it for a month, I can see that in both cost of food storage and quality of food storage, this is the way to go. I will be purchasing one of these units, despite some of the rough edges. I am confident that the company will work out the minor issues that bothered me, and those issues that would affect the bottom line price of the unit can be dealt with by simply managing the unit rather than letting it run as intended. Of course, if you don’t want to bother with it, it will run just fine by loading it and pushing the button.

----------------------

I would like to point out that the Survivalblog review was done in 2014.  Like I said before Harvest Right is a good company.  In a follow up review "Survivablog" mentioned that Harvest Right listened to all of the gripes in the original Survivalblog review and addressed all of the issues he had with it.  At the time of the review in 2014 the cost of a Harvest Right 4 tray freeze dryer was $3899.  The cost has come down considerably.  I checked their website today (1/10/18) and now they are selling it for $2295.  Remember he said he would buy it "in a heartbeat."  I just want to point out, that was at the higher price!

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