Another terrific use for our Harvest Right machine is for freeze drying leftovers. As a family with children we generate our fair share of left overs. We try to use up leftovers but we often resorted to throwing food away before we bought our freeze dryer. Now that we have our Harvest Right machine no food gets thrown away because we are freeze drying leftovers.
A reason to buy a home freeze dryer
Recently I saw an advertisement from Harvest Right that claims the average person throws away something like 290 pounds of food annually. I decided to go looking for other sources to see for myself. This article suggests that the average family of 4 wastes around $2,275 worth of food yearly by throwing it in the trash. According to the EPA, “In the U.S., 40% of food is lost or wasted, annually costing an estimated $218 billion or 1.3% of GDP.” That is a lot of wasted food and money
If our household falls close to that national average we could arguable make our machine pay for itself in two years. If you add some loads of food from your garden it wouldn’t take long to make a home freeze dryer pay for itself.
What food could you avoid throwing away
In addition to food from your table you can freeze dry stuff like condiments, sour cream, pudding, milk, yogurt and fruit. Bananas are one of the items that many homes invariably end up throwing into the trash. Bananas freeze dry nicely and taste wonderful freeze dried. They’re also very easy to prepare for freeze drying, we no longer throw away bananas.
Seasonal meals such as Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners often result in an abundance of leftovers. Most of that leftover food will freeze dry nicely. It can even be packaged into individual and complete meals to go into your food storage pantry.
The stew you see in the picture above is going to be stored in 7 mil mylar bags with a 300 cc oxygen absorber once freeze dried. It will be added to our food storage pantry once completed.
Recently we bought a home freeze dryer from Harvest Right. We have done several loads and are doing well with it. There is still a lot to learn and you can expect to see more related blog entries on our home freeze dryer in the future. Future topics will be filtering and reusing vacuum pump oil, food successes and failures, long and short term food storage.
why buy a home freeze dryer?
The decision to buy a home freeze dryer is one that shouldn’t be made lightly. These units are expensive and require your time to prepare food for freeze drying and putting it away properly. After every freeze drying cycle with your home freeze dryer the oil needs to be drained and filtered. The process isn’t hard but will require your time.
For us being able to store the food from our garden long term with little nutritional value loss was very appealing. We know what goes into our garden, the seeds that are used. We control the insects so we know exactly what has been used. Buying commercially grown food you have no idea what is used or how it was prepared for market. Putting away our own food that we control during the entire growing process up through harvest gives us a piece of mind.
Extending the amount of food in our pantry is another reason we elected to buy the home freeze dryer. Sure, we could be a bunch of commercially prepared freeze dried food with what the unit cost. By doing it our selves we have better control over what food ultimately goes into our pantry. Plus over the course of a few years we should be able to make this unit more than pay for itself.
Little nutritional value loss with a home freeze dryer
We can and freeze but both of those options are more of a short term option. Add to the shorter storage duration is the nutritional value loss that comes with heating food. Whether you blanch before freezing, dehydrate or can you can expect up to around a 30 percent loss of nutritional value in your food. Harvest Right claims a mere 2 percent loss through freeze drying.
Of course foods that were prepared before freeze drying, or that will be prepared after re-hydration will still experience loss of nutritional value. But anything that can be eaten as a snack right of the freeze dryer will retain all that nutrition.
Things to consider before buying a home freeze dryer
Before buying a freeze dryer we would recommend you consider several things before buying, First off, do you have time to prepare the food to go into the freeze dryer and then to store it once it has completed. peeling, slicing and arranging food in the trays can be time consuming.
Properly storing food for long term storage takes attention to detail. If you’re rushed for time and hurrying to get the task done and do something improperly you can lose everything in that pouch. If your schedule is hectic and you’ll have difficulty finding the time to load and unload the freeze dryer it will likely sit unused. A freeze dryer sitting unused would make it a very expensive paper weight.
The cost of electricity is something else you should consider. Here in the midwest our electricity costs are lower than can be found on the coasts. We also don’t have a fluctuating rate depending on peak hours. A typical load will have this unit running constantly for 24-30 hours. If you pay peak electrical rates a home freeze dryer will be running at those times and could significantly increase your power bill. The large unit runs on 220 volts and would be more economical.
The vacuum pump can be loud. Setting it up in an area close to bedrooms could interrupt with sleep.
The vacuum pump needs to be kept cool and the freeze dryer will be more efficient if kept in a cool room. A garage or shed that gets hot during the summer months can causes extra wear and tear on your pump and freeze dryer.
Harvest Right recommends your freeze dryer be on its own dedicated circuit. If you place it on a circuit with other appliances you run the risk if tripping a breaker.
What size freeze dryer do you need?
Currently Harvest Right offers three sizes of home freeze dryers. Picking the one that is right for you and your family can be difficult task. The number of people that will be using the food coming out of that freeze dryer needs to be considered. It might even be good to call Harvest Right and ask them which model they’d suggest you needed.
Based on our experiences I’d say 1-2 people would need the small unit. For 3-4 the stand model. But for anyone freeze drying for 4 or more people you should absolutely consider the large model.
We are members of a few different freeze dryer groups on Facebook. Often times when someone asks for suggestions on which size they need I’ve seen people say they wish they had bought a larger unit. I’ve yet to see a single person say they wish they had bought the smaller unit.
What else do you need for your home freeze dryer?
Unfortunately there will be more things you’re going to need to go with your home freeze dryer. Many of those other items you can get from Harvest Right. They even offer an occasional sale that will include many of them. The sale, when running will include oxygen absorbers, 7 mil mylar bags, and the impulse sealer you will need to seal them.
Silicone tray liners make cleanup and removing freeze dried food from the trays so much easier. Harvest Right offers them to correctly fit their trays. They have three different sizes to fit the trays for the freeze dryer you buy.
Consider an extra set of trays. An extra set allows you to prepare the next batch of food and have it ready to go into the freeze dryer. A second set of the liners would be wonderful.
The vacuum pump comes with one quart of the correct oil. The oil needs to be filtered after each use. The filtering process will not return all the oil as some stays in the filter. To remove the water and properly filter the oil can take several hours. Having extra oil on hand allows you to quickly get the freeze dryer back in operation. Having at least an extra gallon of the correct Black Gold vacuum pump oil is suggested. Some retailers will ship for free if you have Amazon Prime.
Our favorite freeze dried food
So far Gala apples and bananas are among our favorite foods to eat directly out of the freeze dryer. Bananas are possibly our favorite because they’re relatively inexpensive as compared to other fruits and berries. Blackberries and strawberries are my own personal favorite. The kids enjoy ice cream, yogurt and water melon.
Our quest to be self reliant and grow a healthy garden