Freeze Dried Food - Home Freeze Drying

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Seeker1001

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I'm thinking about investing in the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer. Does anyone have experience with home freeze drying or with this freeze dryer in particular?

Please share your thoughts.
 

TexasFreedom

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Welcome to the forum.

There are clear reason for either choice.
Pro: freeze drying does work, really well. You can preserve enough food to even start selling it. It is fairly efficient. You can store far more food (volume-wise) for far longer than any other method. Storing enough to last years and years.

Con: short of a nuclear war, you aren't going to be eating this food for decades. Most likely if SHTF, you'll eat it for a few months then change to food you grow/raise. That means you can preserve food in other ways & be ok. You likely won't have the power available to run it post-SHTF. Is it worth a few $thousand?

If you're going to start selling beef jerky, go for it, you'll make a nice bundle. For me personally I chose not to go this path.
 

WGregMiller

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I'm thinking about investing in the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer. Does anyone have experience with home freeze drying or with this freeze dryer in particular?

Please share your thoughts.
We have a small one. While TF doesn’t think that they’d be useful long term, I disagree.

We also can as well as freeze dry. The food we have freeze dried is used quite often, especially after a long day when we don’t feel like cooking.

We have put long term food away with it, but that isn’t the main goal.

It works fine. We did add a filter system to the pump after the warranty expired. Draining the pump is 99% of the maintenance, and that cut a 30 minute process down to a few minutes without draining the oil, filtering and refilling.

Harvest Right is now selling oilless pumps, but they’re really expensive and I don’t see the need. The filter system has automotive type filters you can drain from, basically you’re just removing any water from the oil.

A normal run takes from 24 to 30 hours, the system is smart enough to know when to quit - usually. I was concerned about maintenance, but it is minimal.

The freeze dried food has a long shelf life, just make sure you buy fairly thick Mylar bags and the appropriate sized oxygen absorbers.

Keep an eye on their website for sales. Ours came with a sealer for free and a selection of bags and absorbers. I don’t think we had to pay for shipping either, and it came strapped to a pallet.

For the food that we’ve dried, apples and fruit in general in freeze dried form are like candy. We’ve dried a lot of herbs as well. The meats rehydrate well too, as well as veggies. I can’t tell very much difference between dried green beans and canned ones, plus Mylar doesn’t break like glass jars.

We did have a seal start leaking on the vac pump, but Harvest Right sent a replacement overnight when it was under warranty. Easy fix.

Oh yeah, our kill a watt says it cost between 2 and 3 dollars to run a batch.

One last thing off the top of my head - bags are available from Amazon for a lot less than Harvest Right, as are O2 absorbers. I like the 7 mil bags myself.

Here is a review from common sense homesteading:

https://commonsensehome.com/home-freeze-drying/

And my wife says to get a bigger one than she did, lol.
 

Brent S

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I think it an amazing way to preserve, by far the best. I’ve thought that it may be cheaper to just buy freeze dried foods, but considering the fact that you don’t know what went into the stuff you buy, like chemicals, freshness, etc, I like the idea of doing your own. My garden is as fresh and chemical free as any food can get, so I’d like to start with using that first.
 

TexasFreedom

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Let me change my comment above a bit. First, let's say post SHTF you have power to run a freeze dryer. If you say it's $2-3 to run a batch, that's 20-30 kW-hrs of power. Let's say you have a 10kW solar system ($25-30k cost today). You could run 2 batches a day using all the power from the solar system. That above is my main objection, it will suck power to operate.

But back to my change. I can see where freeze drying will be really handy: seasons. Chickens will lay eggs like crazy in spring into summer. Freeze dry those eggs and you'll eat through fall/winter. Gardens produce through summer/fall, freeze dry it and you'll eat through winter/spring.

Now there are options for canning these products. Canning is only good for a few years, but we're talking about needing 6-18 months shelf life. It would be interesting to see a side-by-side analysis of the materials/effort for freeze drying vs canning.

And Brent does have a good point. Pre-SHTF, it would be nice to know your food is chemical free.

WGreg, can you tell us how many pounds your unit can process at a time? For example, how many dozen eggs can it dry in one batch? How many pounds of meat can it hold in one batch? And how many hours does it take to dry them?
 

WGregMiller

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Let me change my comment above a bit. First, let's say post SHTF you have power to run a freeze dryer. If you say it's $2-3 to run a batch, that's 20-30 kW-hrs of power. Let's say you have a 10kW solar system ($25-30k cost today). You could run 2 batches a day using all the power from the solar system. That above is my main objection, it will suck power to operate.

But back to my change. I can see where freeze drying will be really handy: seasons. Chickens will lay eggs like crazy in spring into summer. Freeze dry those eggs and you'll eat through fall/winter. Gardens produce through summer/fall, freeze dry it and you'll eat through winter/spring.

Now there are options for canning these products. Canning is only good for a few years, but we're talking about needing 6-18 months shelf life. It would be interesting to see a side-by-side analysis of the materials/effort for freeze drying vs canning.

And Brent does have a good point. Pre-SHTF, it would be nice to know your food is chemical free.

WGreg, can you tell us how many pounds your unit can process at a time? For example, how many dozen eggs can it dry in one batch? How many pounds of meat can it hold in one batch? And how many hours does it take to dry them?
We haven’t tried eggs yet as we have a lot of them from before we had the dryer. Meat wise, about 6 pounds or so, but keep in mind we bought the smallest one they have.we have changed our eating habits, trying to stay with meat that hasn’t been loaded up with antibiotics and hormones, so this helps preserve that long term. Time wise, read my original post. Generally no more than 30 hours.

Also, I’m not arguing your power usage point. We use the stuff we freeze dry as well as storing it. I’d hate to be on my death bed thinking about everything I hoarded and the S never hit the fan....

A few years ago the 2nd largest city in Alabama lost power for 5 days after a tornado cut some transmission lines. A lot of those folks were screwed from the start. We would’ve had plenty of food....
 

Doreena

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I think it an amazing way to preserve, by far the best. I’ve thought that it may be cheaper to just buy freeze dried foods, but considering the fact that you don’t know what went into the stuff you buy, like chemicals, freshness, etc, I like the idea of doing your own. My garden is as fresh and chemical free as any food can get, so I’d like to start with using that first.
Also, typical commercial freeze dried meals run nearly 10 a bag, and it would not take long to pay for a freeze dryer if you were going to store a year’s worth of food.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
 

Brent S

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Also, typical commercial freeze dried meals run nearly 10 a bag, and it would not take long to pay for a freeze dryer if you were going to store a year’s worth of food.


Sent from my iPad using Tapatalk
I was reading up more on harvest right dehydrators, and believe they could pay themselves off much earlier than I thought, when compared to buying #10cans of stuff. One thing I did read though were a lot of bad reviews about the company. There were lots of people that said their machines worked fine, but there were a lot as well that said they had chronic problems with little help from the company. I love the idea of having one, but think I will wait a little while longer and see where the R&D takes it in a couple more years. I am really glad that you and Greg seem happy with yours.
 

WGregMiller

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The one time we had to call them, they were great. My 2 cents thinks that they’re not that big of a company, and I bet that was the problem.

I dunno. Can’t complain.
 

Brent S

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The one time we had to call them, they were great. My 2 cents thinks that they’re not that big of a company, and I bet that was the problem.

I dunno. Can’t complain.
Like I said, I’m really glad for your sake. So far I’ve heard from two people that have them, and you’re both happy,so that’s a step in the right direction. It would be nice to make my own stuff. I’m still interested to hear how well some lettuce rehydrates.
 

Danil54grl

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Ya know there are whiney butts in the world. . . they'll complain just to complain. Nothing is going to satisfy everybody out there.
 

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