Freeze drying your harvest – is it for you?
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.
I have one it is worth the price.
The weakest part of the system was the vacuum pump. They have a new upgrade oil pump well worth the extra cost. The old pump pictured was loud and required fresh oil after every run. The new pump is much quieter and will run 20-30 cycles before changing.
The trays are about half the size of a cookie sheet, and the medium unit has four trays. The picture is misleading. You want the produce cut thin for faster cycle times. If you left very thick pieces like the picture, your cycle time would be very long or worse. You might have to stop, take the food out, put the trays in the freezer and defrost the unit and then restart the cycle. For example, a costco box of 9 peaches takes up 1.75 trays. costco blueberries box take one tray. So I do not know how much fruit you will process since a cycle takes 36 to 48 hours. I don’t know if you can do “insane quantities” I have a second set of trays to load and freeze while the freeze dryer runs another batch, but in reality, the unit will only be able to do 20 peaches per 48-hour cycle. They have a larger unit, but it requires a dedicated 20 amp circuit. That limits where you can put the unit. The old pump was so loud, hot, and vented oil mist it made so much heat you needed to put the unit in its room with an AC vent. The new pump is quieter but still put off some heat and vents oil mist into the air, so I have an old HEPA air cleaner running beside the unit.
The freeze dryer is worth the effort. I like the texture of freeze-dried food. Many fruits I would not eat fresh but enjoy in their freeze-dried form. That alone, to me is worth having a freeze dryer. Freeze-dried food properly packed will last 20+ years, and can be prepared so it will be ready to eat by only adding water.
Seems pretty expensive compared to other options.
I built a solar dehydrator for much less, with much more capacity, and zero operating cost.