Table of Contents
- A Quick History of Freeze Drying Food
- How the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer Can Help You
- How Do You Use the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer?
- Food and Cost Savings Over Time with Freeze Dryer Use
- A Guide to Freeze Drying Foods
- How Does the Freeze Drying Process Work?
- How to Freeze Dry Food
- What Does Freeze Drying Do To Food?
- How Much Is a Freeze Drying Machine?
- The Difference Between Freeze Drying and Dehydrating
- Food Storage Options
- What Foods Can You Freeze Dry?
- Freeze Drying Accessories That You Should Consider
- The Bottom Line for Home Freeze Dryers
Food preservation and getting the most bang for your buck are values that have been important to humans for thousands of years. Freeze drying food can be an excellent way to save on food waste and in your grocery budget. With this in-depth review of the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer, we’ll explore the process and value of freeze dried food and share a freeze dried food guide to get you started right away with preserving your own freeze dried foods.
The Harvest Right home freeze dryer brings the technology of large, commercial freeze dryers to the convenience of your own home. Its small size makes it easy to use and store, and it has plenty of room inside to make your creations. It also offers you the option of converting fresh food into products that can store for up to 25 years.
A Quick History of Freeze Drying Food
Freeze drying food goes by several different names, including lyophilization or cryodesiccation, and it involves freezing and dehydrating food through a thorough drying process. After the food is frozen, a vacuum is used to change the pressure inside the machine, and as the pressure decreases around the food, it converts frozen water components directly into a gas. That allows food to be stored longer and transported easier while still preserving the nutritional value. The food can be revived and ready to eat by simply adding a small amount of water, and often, food can be preserved for many years with this method. Lyophilization also makes food lighter as the water content of a food tends to be its heaviest component.
The method of freeze drying products was developed in 1906 by scientists Jacques-Arsène d’Arsonval and Frédéric Bordas at the Collège de France in Paris, France. Five years later, it was used to preserve the first rabies vaccine. During World War II, modern techniques for freeze drying began as a way to easily transport and preserve donated blood. It progressed into a method for storing penicillin and bone, and it is currently used in a wide variety of applications, including food storage, biomedical treatments, and diagnostic kits.
The process of lyophilization includes at least four distinct steps. First, there should be pre-treatment of the food. Next, the product must be frozen. The following two phases involve the first and second drying of the food. During these steps, the frozen food is slowly heated and pressure applied so that sublimination occurs, which is when water transforms directly from the solid form of ice to the vapor form of gas. Most freeze dryers have a vacuum pump to achieve this process, and it can take several hours to days to fully freeze dry the food. At the end, the food must be stored in a vacuum-sealed package to keep moisture out and the nutrients locked in.
Harvest Right has invested years in the process of creating a home freeze dryer that will offer you and your family the benefits of freeze-dried food at an affordable cost. Their home freeze dryer preserves the benefits in your fresh foods while giving you the flexibility of storing those foods for up to 25 years. Having a home freeze dryer can allow you to prepare for a natural disaster, prep for a camping trip, or simply save money by storing foods at their peak of freshness before they spoil. Before Harvest Right released their product, it was a challenge to find a freeze dryer created specifically for home use; the majority of the products on the market today are commercial appliances that are expensive and take up large amounts of space. The freeze dryer from Harvest Right was designed with the home chef in mind, and it fits most spaces and budgets well.
How the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer Can Help You
A home freeze dryer can provide incredible savings and healthy options for you and your family. You may find that you can save money by buying food in bulk while it is in season, and additionally, you can reduce waste by preserving food before it spoils. You can also create your own healthy freeze-dried meals, sauces, desserts, and snacks so that you always have a preservative-free treat or meal available for years to come.
Also, since you provide the food that you’re going to freeze dry, you can ensure that the food comes from reputable sources. Along the same lines, if you or your family members suffer from specific food allergies, home freeze drying allows you to reduce or eliminate possible sources of contamination that might occur with commercially prepared foods. Unlike canning or dehydrating food, freeze drying food does not require any additives or extra components for the process to occur, so you can create homemade meals and pantry items that have no added sugars or preservatives. You also retain additional nutrients in the food because you’re not using high heat as you would with canning or dehydrating alone.
In addition to being prepared with healthy options, freeze-dried foods can also help you to be prepared in the unfortunate event of a natural disaster or if you were unable to access a grocery store. You can keep a pantry and stockpile ready for almost anything.
Harvest Right offers great customer support for their home freezer dryers. They also have a freeze drying guide, extensive list of recipes, and many tutorials on their website. The unit itself comes with a one-year warranty.
How Do You Use the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer?
The Harvest Right freeze dryer uses the stages of lyophilization to preserve food. You can put almost any food in the lyophilizer, and you can put different foods on the various shelves in the appliance, which means that you can dry fruit, meat, and a ready-made meal all at the same time.
The size of the unit itself depends on which model you buy. It ranges from a small size, which is smaller than a dishwasher but bigger than a microwave, to medium and large, which are both a little bigger than a dorm-room refrigerator. The units tend to make a small amount of noise while in operation. Also, they typically run for 20 to 40 hours depending on the size of your unit and the amount and type of food that you are freeze drying. During that time, the process is completely hands-off, and the freeze dryer will complete its cycle without the need for you to change or adjust anything. The cycle time may be shorter if you keep your freeze dryer in an area with a temperate climate.
- Before you start, make sure that the freeze dryer shelves are clean. If the foods from your last batch were particularly pungent, you may need to air the shelves out to ensure that the scent and flavor are not transferred to the new food. It helps to line the shelves with parchment paper for easy clean up and to reduce the risk of seasoning the trays with lingering flavors. You can place different types of food in the home freeze dryer at the same time, but you may get better results if mild-flavored foods are on the lower shelves and bold flavors are on upper ones. Try to have the pieces of food fairly uniform in size for a better finished product and a more even freeze drying process for each piece. This point is especially helpful if you are freeze drying several different types of food at the same time. Additionally, some customers have noticed that you can use food that is already frozen from your regular home freezer before freeze drying, which allows you to save smaller portions of foods and wait to use the home freeze dryer when you have a full batch.
- After you have placed your food inside and pressed start, the freezer dryer will automatically start its process. Initially, the inside chamber will lower to -40 degrees to freeze the food. Next, the machine initiates a powerful vacuum pump that warms the food slightly and removes the water content as ice becomes water vapor. You can select your method of storing the food, and when you’re ready to eat, add water to restore it to its original state. For optimal operation, it is recommended that the machine’s oil be changed in between every cycle.
- Storage of your food is a very important step once the home freezer dryer has finished its cycle. There are three ideal options for stashing your treats. First, you can use Mylar bags, which can save food for up to 25 years. They close easily with an impulse sealer or the heat from an iron. Second, canning jars can be a great option when stored in a cool, dry area. Third, you can use #10 cans in conjunction with a can sealer. Additionally, you can also use vacuum-sealed bags, but this tends to offer the least longevity for food products. You can also add an oxygen absorber to boost the freshness of your food and increase shelf life. They can be used together with any of the mentioned storage methods.
Food and Cost Savings Over Time with Freeze Dryer Use
A home freeze dryer can save you thousands of dollars over the years compared to the cost of purchasing commercially-prepared freeze dried foods. Many people find that their Harvest Right freeze dryer pays for itself within one to two years in savings since they can prepare their own freeze dried food instead of buying the expensive, manufactured version. The cost savings tends to be even higher for people who grow their own produce and use electricity from solar panels to run the freeze dryer.
Studies have shown that the average American family of four is unable to consume approximately 40 percent of the food that they purchase. On average, this cost is $2250 or more every year. Instead of being forced to throw away uneaten leftovers or produce that is past its prime, you can preserve these foods for a later date with a home freeze dryer. In addition to reducing waste, you may be able to recuperate the cost of the freeze dryer unit in one year simply by saving food that may otherwise go to waste.
There are several costs to consider when purchasing a home freeze dryer. Beyond the cost of the freeze dryer itself, you need to consider purchasing the storage containers, proper sealer for those containers, and oxygen absorbers for extended shelf life. It’s also important to factor into your calculations the cost of electricity to run the machine for 20 to 40 hours each cycle, and you need to consider routine maintenance. To keep your freeze dryer in good working condition, be sure to filter the oil after every cycle and complete a power flush of the system after every 10 to 12 uses. After you’ve made 30 to 36 batches of food, you should consider taking off the pump cover and giving the pump itself a thorough cleaning.
For many people, a home freeze dryer will reward you with savings after the first year. For example, if you use the freeze dryer with #10 cans as your storage device and pay average grocery store prices for your food, it can cost around $17.25 to make a gallon of food compared to $31.25 for the same amount of freeze dried food from a store. Even after you factor in costs for routine maintenance, most people find that they save up to $12 a can compared to the store-bought equivalent. Many Harvest Right customers find that they use their freeze dryer often, and most put up approximately 1,500 pounds of food a year.
There are several ways that you can increase your savings with a home freeze dryer. If you grow your own food, this can significantly improve the cost. However, you can also save money by buying produce in bulk, which is usually when it’s in season and locally sourced. You can also stock up on meat when it’s on sale. As mentioned previously, if you have solar panels, you may be able to save on electricity costs as well. You may also score some savings if you purchase the unit or put it on a layaway payment program during one of Harvest Right’s frequent sales promotions.
A Guide to Freeze Drying Foods
Freeze drying food at home is a fairly new option for many people. For years, most freeze dryers were too large, cumbersome, and expensive for home use. While many brave homesteaders researched the commercial options, the advent of the home freeze dryer has offered a more affordable and space-friendly solution for consumers. This guide will walk you through the freeze drying process in general, your options for freeze drying, and how it differs from other food storage options.
How Does the Freeze Drying Process Work?
Freeze drying offers you a unique option for food storage over canning or dehydrating food products, and it can allow you to create food stores that have a shelf life of up to 25 years if done properly. Freeze drying is also called lyophilization, and it requires the proper equipment for the process to work. People seem to have the best results if the food is broken into small pieces of fairly uniform size; it does not need to have any preservatives or additional ingredients added.
In the lyophilizer, the food is frozen to a temperature of -20 to -40 degrees. Next, a vacuum pump activates to slowly and gradually increase the heat. This slight increase in heat does not destroy any of the vitamins and minerals in the food structure, but it does transfer the frozen water molecules into water vapor through the process of sublimation. The vacuum pump removes the moisture from the food, and it must maintain a certain amount of pressure consistently for the process to occur properly. Over the course of 20 to 40 hours, the food is also dried out and dehydrated. The end result is a light, easily-stored food product with almost all the nutrients of the fresh version.
Food that has been freeze dried can quickly be reconstituted to practically its original state with the addition of water. Many people enjoy the flavor of food both when it’s freeze dried and after it has been reconstituted. Also, many report that it tastes like the original, unfrozen version.
How to Freeze Dry Food
With a home freeze dryer, the process is usually simplified compared to a commercial unit. To prepare, many people like to line the shelves of the machine with parchment paper to keep the food from sticking to the parts of the unit and for easier clean up. For a home machine, the procedure typically involves placing the selected food onto the appropriate shelves in the freeze dryer, closing the apparatus securely, and turning on the unit. After approximately 20 to 40 hours, the machine will complete its cycle of freezing, lyophilization, and drying, and your freeze dried food is ready to be removed and stored securely.
What Does Freeze Drying Do To Food?
Freeze drying slowly removes the water content from food to preserve it for long-term storage. The food itself is in a similar form and reflects essentially the same profile of nutrients as it did before the freeze drying process. This is due to the low level of heat used during the dehydrating process, and it differs significantly from the canning or dehydrating methods of food preservation, which heat the food to a higher temperature and allow some vitamins and minerals to be lost in the process. Freeze dried food often retains up to 97 percent of its original nutrient profile.
After the water is removed, the food can be kept for long periods of time. Without the water content, the food items are much lighter than their original state, and that can make them easy to store and transport. In addition to that, the food can last up to 25 years without spoiling if it is stored properly, especially if an oxygen asborber is added to the container.
How Much Is a Freeze Drying Machine?
A home freeze dryer tends to be a large financial investment, and it can save you significant amounts of money compared to the cost of retail, commercially-prepared freeze dried food. At this time, Harvest Right appears to be the only company on the market with a unit that is specifically intended for use in the home.
The small unit from Harvest Right is 16.5 inches wide by 18.5 inches deep by 25 inches high, and it weighs 61 pounds. You can usually freeze dry up to 1.5 gallons of food at a time with this unit, and most buyers were able to preserve up to 240 gallons of food a year. While they run frequent sales events, the current typical cost of a small unit is $1995 for the colors aqua, white, or black. Additionally, it costs $2395 in the stainless steel model.
The Harvest Right standard model home freeze dryer is their next available size. It is 20 inches wide by 25 inches deep by 30 inches tall. It weighs 134 pounds. You can usually freeze dry seven to 10 pounds of food in every batch, and it can freeze dry up to 1,500 pounds of fresh food every year with frequent use. It starts at $2495 for the aqua, white, black, or red version, and it retails for $2995 for the stainless steel option.
The large freeze dryer unit from Harvest Right is 22.5 inches wide by 25.5 inches deep by 32.5 inches tall, and it weighs 168 pounds. Each batch can produce an average of 3.5 gallons of freeze-dried food from 12 to 16 pounds of fresh food. If used frequently, you can produce up to 670 gallons of freeze-dried food in a year. The large unit costs $3495 for the white or black style, and it usually is priced at $3995 for a stainless steel unit.
Harvest Right also offers a scientific level home freeze dryer. These units offer a larger capacity, laboratory-grade machine that still runs off of the standard home outlet voltage of 110 volts. The smaller version currently costs $7495, and the large model is $10,500.
Commercial freeze dryers are available from several different manufacturers, and they vary widely in price. When considering a commercial freeze dryer, it’s important to keep in mind that it may require 220 voltage to run properly, which may limit you in where you can place the unit. When considering a commercial lyophilizer, there are four different categories, and they include models for laboratories, production, sterilization, and non-sterilization. Most commercial freeze dryers are larger and reduce the food to a colder temperature than home freeze dryer units. They typically range in cost from $10,000 to over $100,000 depending on the size and its intended use. They are available in sizes similar to the Harvest Right units, but they are also available in much larger sizes. Some large freeze dryers may even require an entire room for storage.[cta_image_box2 imagesrc=”https://www.traininginthebay.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/harvestright-home-freeze-dryer.jpg ” alt=”freeze dryer” link=”https://harvestright.com/hooksey9.html” btntext=”Check Pricing on Harvest Right” color=”success” btnsize=”lg” headline=”HarvestRight Home Freeze Dryer” titlecolor=”orange”]As a food preservation method, it is easier than canning and dehydrating and will last 7 to 8 times longer. Just put your leftover meals and ripening fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy in your own freeze dryer and press start. In about 20 to 36 hours, your food is ready to be packaged for a shelf life of up to 25 years.[/cta_image_box2]
The Difference Between Freeze Drying and Dehydrating
Freeze drying differs significantly from dehydrating food. Food has been dehydrated for thousands of years in many different cultures, and currently, most people purchase a home food dehydrator to speed up the process and make the results easy to replicate. Dehydrating involves removing the moisture from food by heating it a low temperature for a long period of time. The exposure to heat can destroy some of its delicate vitamins and minerals, and the end result it usually fairly withered in appearance. Freeze drying food involves freezing the food, which locks in its nutrients, and then it utilizes pressure from a vacuum pump to remove the water content. When water is added back to the freeze dried food, it often resembles its original form. Freeze drying often removes more moisture than dehydrating can, which enables it to have a longer shelf life. This also results in a lighter weight for freeze dried food compared to dehydrated food.
Food Storage Options
There are six main different methods of storing and preserving food. It’s important to consider each so that you can select food stored in the manner that is most conducive to your family’s wants, needs, and use to save you food and money. Most people utilize a variety of these methods when storing food for a long period of time. Two of the most common options are food canned at a commercial facility or preserved at home. Next, food can be dehydrated commercially or with a home food dehydrator. Finally, the last two options are frozen food and freeze dried food.
Commercially canned food has a standard shelf life of two to five years, and the average cost is 65 cents per cup of food. During the commercial canning process, up to 70 percent of fragile vitamins and nutrients can be damaged or destroyed, and additional nutrition may be lost with each year of storage. Despite this alarming statistic, this tends to be similar to the nutrient loss in fresh produce after one to two weeks of refrigeration. Also, canned goods bought at the store tend to have preservatives and additives, such as sodium and sulfites, to increase their durability. Canned food may appear different than its fresh counterparts, and it tends to be softer and less flavorful than fresh. Some special benefits of canned food are the low cost and ease of purchasing in retail stores.
Food can also be canned at home, and it shares many of same features as commercially canned foods. It does differ slightly in that most sources recommend that foods canned at home should be consumed within one year of production. This is usually to reduce the risk of possible contamination as home canning practices are not monitored for safety measures, and this shorter shelf life may also result from the jars used for canning. Many home canning jars are clear glass, which exposes the food to light and may further destroy some of the nutrients. The cost per cup can vary significantly and averages 23 cents to $1.09 per cup. After the initial costs of $100 to $150 for canning supplies, you may be able to achieve savings by growing your own food or buying food to can in bulk. There are ongoing costs of new lids for each batch that you can, and they tend to run 10 to 20 cents per batch. Home canning allows you to preserve food shortly after it’s been picked to retain nutrients, and you can ensure that there are no additives. Of course, canning food at home requires your effort and expertise.
Commercially dehydrated food typically last for five to 10 years, and some may even retain their freshness for up to a remarkable 25 years. The dehydrating process involves drying out the food and reducing the moisture content to 5 percent or less. The food is usually vacuum-sealed and can be stored in #10 cans. Dehydrated food sold in bags usually has a shorter life span and should be consumed within one to two years. It usually costs 70 cents to $1.30 per cup. The nutrient profile tends to be similar to fresh produce that has been refrigerated for several weeks, and vitamin C tends to not survive the dehydration process well. Also, dehydrated food often have preservatives, and some dehydrated items should be reconstituted with water before eating.
As with canning, food that has been dehydrated at home is similar to the commercial version with a few minor differences. It can be harder to reduce the moisture content sufficiently at home, so the shelf life tends to be six to 12 months to reduce your risk of contamination. This can be longer if you use a vacuum sealer to store your finished product. After the initial investment of $200 to $500 for the cost of the dehydrator, you may be able to average as low as 37 cents per cup, including the cost of electricity to run your machine. You can limit any additives or preservatives, and the nutritional profile is similar to fresh produce.
Frozen food tends to last for six to 12 months when appropriately stored. Of course, this takes into account that you have a power supply to your freezer. Most frozen food costs 40 cents to $1.50 per cup, and it does not require a significant time investment to store food in the freezer. Certain foods that do not can or dehydrate well will respond nicely to freezing, such as bread, butter, and cheese. Frozen food tends to be additive and preservative-free, and the food maintains almost 100 percent of its nutrients during storage. Frozen foods are easy to find in local stores.
Freeze dried foods consistently offer you the longest shelf life, and most can be stored for up to 25 years. Due to its method of freezing the food and then removing the water content, many fragile vitamins and nutrients are preserved in the process. It usually costs $1.10 to $2.50 per cup of freeze dried food. There are usually no preservatives or additives involved with this process, and many foods will need water or another liquid to be reconstituted. Freeze dried foods can be purchased in grocery stores, online retailers, and made at home with the investment of a home freeze dryer.[cta_image_box2 imagesrc=”https://www.traininginthebay.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/harvestright-home-freeze-dryer.jpg ” alt=”freeze dryer” link=”https://harvestright.com/hooksey9.html” btntext=”Check Pricing on Harvest Right” color=”success” btnsize=”lg” headline=”HarvestRight Home Freeze Dryer” titlecolor=”orange”]As a food preservation method, it is easier than canning and dehydrating and will last 7 to 8 times longer. Just put your leftover meals and ripening fruits, vegetables, meats, and dairy in your own freeze dryer and press start. In about 20 to 36 hours, your food is ready to be packaged for a shelf life of up to 25 years.[/cta_image_box2]
What Foods Can You Freeze Dry?
Freeze drying works well with most foods. It’s great for meats, fruits, and vegetables. You can also create your own freeze dinners or preserve casseroles. Dairy products such as cheese and yogurt tend to do very well with freeze drying. Eggs, both raw and cooked, are great candidates for the freeze dryer. It can create great meals or snacks for hiking and backpacking adventures.
However, foods that are predominantly oil or sugar do not tend to preserve as well with freeze drying, but foods that contain those ingredients, such as desserts, do actually turn out well. Fat may melt during the drying stage and coat the surfaces of the machine instead of keeping its structure. Sugar tends to trap the moisture in, making it harder for the lyophilization process to occur, so many jams and jellies will not freeze dry well. Bread may not store best in the freeze dryer as it can have a soggy texture when reconstituted.
Freeze Drying Accessories That You Should Consider
You’ll get the most out of your home freeze dryer if you consider certain accessories to go along with it. While you can store your finished food products in Mason jars or resealable bags, it will last much longer if you invest in specific storage containers and components. Mylar bags and a vacuum sealer offer you the longest shelf life, and food may last up to 25 years stored this way. Large, #10 cans are another great option for your freeze dried food, and you will also need a can sealer for this method. You should also consider purchasing oxygen absorbers; this inexpensive packet will help to protect your food from spoiling and increase shelf life.
Home freeze drying can offer you a long-term option for food preservation. Through the process of sublimation, the food retains much of its original nutrient profile. A home freeze dryer can be an expensive investment, but it can help to reduce the cost from food waste and allow you to prepare for a variety of circumstances. Freeze drying offers unique benefits over canning or dehydrating foods.