Freeze dryers used to only be available to large companies and commercial businesses. Although they still come with a larger price tag than some food preservation methods, it is becoming more common to have your own home freeze dryer to use whenever you want! We have partnered with Harvest Right Freeze Dryer to bring you a great price through the co-op for a product that many families have found to be a great way of adding freeze-dried food products into their homes!
If you are wondering if a freeze dryer would be a great investment for you or are just curious about the process of freeze drying, keep reading and we will give you all of the information you need!
What is a Freeze Dryer?
A freeze dryer is a large piece of equipment that takes raw foods, or other materials, and takes them through a lyophilization process of sublimating the water molecules from ice to the water vapor stage and skipping over the liquid phase completely. This allows the freeze-dried food to retain all of the important parts such as nutritional value, phytochemicals, flavor, and structure but drastically lengthens its shelf life and will clear up storage space in your freezer for more long-term storage of other products!
How to Use a Freeze Dryer
Freeze dryers are fairly user-friendly. They do require some oil with every use and come with a vacuum pump. Once you have your freeze dryer set up you will want to push the “start” button to have it begin freezing while you are prepping your food on the trays.
You can freeze dry multiple different foods at a time, but it is recommended to group similar items on one tray, such as keeping fruits together and using a separate tray for your vegetables or meats.
Once you have your trays filled and your freeze dryer is ready to go you will place your trays inside, close the door tight and let the process run. Depending on the size of your freeze dryer and how much food you have in it, the average freeze-drying process takes 24 hours. The machine will beep when it is ready and then you can take your food out and store it in air-tight containers, glass jars, or mylar bags.
What Size of Freeze Dryer is Best for a Single Family?
For single families, a medium-sized freeze dryer will be the best option. It allows you to freeze dry batches of food at 7-10 pounds at a time and will typically meet the needs at this level. If you have more than one family that will be using the machine or running a small business you might want to see if the extra cost could pay for itself with the large size.
Do keep in mind that these machines are not small and will need a place to go once you purchase them. They aren’t really an appliance that you can get out when you want to use them and then tuck away in a cabinet. Some styles can weigh over 100 pounds! This is one of the only things people find to be a downside to having a freeze-dryer but typically find that all of the pros outweigh the one con.
It's a good idea for your freeze dryer to be stored inside where it stays in a room temperature environment so that it isn't trying to compensate for any extreme temperatures around it. It takes a lot for them to get really cold and if they are outside on a porch on in a garage in the middle of summer surrounded by high temperatures it can take a lot more energy to keep the machine cold for the entire freeze drying process.
What Types of Food Can be Freeze Dried?
There are many types of food that can be freeze-dried. There are some that think freeze drying will end up replacing other food preservation methods such as canning and dehydrated foods, but using the different methods to complement each other instead of competing with each other will be the most beneficial for your pantry in the long term.
Some of the most common include
- Dairy Products
- Bone Broth
- Bone Broth
This is definitely not an all-inclusive list as there are many other food items you can use, but the main thing you need to remember is there are a variety of opportunities available to use your freeze dryer!
Are There Any Foods that Can’t be Freeze Dried?
There are some foods that are high in sugar or fat that can’t be freeze-dried. Think of food items such as straight butter, honey, chocolate, or jelly.
Is a Freeze Dryer Worth It?
Do you want your own freeze dryer? Deciding whether a freeze dryer is worth it for your family will depend on a lot of factors. If you have harvested your own garden and have a large area for storing preserved foods there are probably enough advantages to justify the purchase of a freeze dryer. It is one of the best ways to keep food available to eat for a long time without sacrificing quality and nutrients. With the ability to freeze dry all kinds of food, it gives you a wide variety of ways to put it to use!
One advantage families have found is that they are able to buy a product when it’s in season and at its lowest price and then have enough freeze-dry food to eat all year. This can save money very quickly on things like apples and strawberries that can have major price jumps in the off-season but your family is still wanting to eat them! It's also nice to have different ways to eat these healthy foods to give variety to your diet and your tastebuds!
Many people only think of freeze-drying foods for their emergency food supply, and while it is one of the best options for that it can also be a great tool to use routinely.
Here at the Food and Meat Co-Op, we are able to offer freeze dryers and their accessories at a discounted group rate which can beat many sale prices on the market. You can check out our form with the details to get your order in so that you can have your own freeze dryer ready to use before the holidays!
If you have any questions or have great freeze-dryer inspirations please share them with us! We love hearing from our community and learning new ways to utilize one of our favorite appliances!