|Stainless steel finish machine shown is more expensive than the brighter colored models.|
Of late, there have been a number of commercials for a remarkable home freeze dryer.
Harvest Right is marketing in fairly large number of colors and varieties, a kitchen appliance which looks a lot like a small dryer which actually freeze dries food. Once freeze dried and packaged as per their directions, many foods will last 25 years. (Jams and many sugary concoctions will not, although ice cream certainly will.) Even lasagna freeze dries well. Freeze drying does preserve nutrition, appearance and shelf life of food that either you have grown yourself, or made yourself, or of food you were able to buy on sale. Since this saves you buying freeze dried food in cans, then we should examine this possibility. Freeze drying is also superior to simple dehydration, because dehydrated food has much less shelf life, (and also because simple dehydration often requires additives including more salt.) Freeze drying also helps to cut down on the waste of food. You need only take out and use what you actually need or will eat. Sometimes, you will wish to add water to rehydrate freeze dried food as in lasagna. Other times, you might actually want to eat the food in the freeze dried state, such as banana slices, raspberries, apple slices, strawberry slices, etc. I like freeze dried strawberries in cereal, particularly in oat meal and I don't usually work to rehydrate the fruit first.
The pros of having such an appliance is that it will cut down on your need to buy precanned freeze dried food which could represent a substantial cost savings. Having one of these appliances could allow you to preserve almost 100% of the food you grow that you might not consume at harvest. It cuts down on the amount of canning you may need to do. It might allow you to provide freeze dried emergency food to other family members. It may allow you to mix together your own entrees for later use. It may allow you to formulate specialty entrees, such as gluten free, low salt or low sugar meals. Someone at a preparedness show allowed me to taste the low calorie cashew chicken with peas and rice they had freeze dried and reconstituted, and it was excellent. It does fruits and vegetables, like green peppers, and the fruits I mentioned exceptionally well. It does an exceptional job with hamburgers. You could actually mix fresh spinach and onion in your patties and freeze dry them for later use.
The negatives of having the machine are as follows: The initial expense is between two and three thousand dollars. Although there are some smaller versions of this device, many families would need to look hard to find kitchen or home space for an appliance of the larger size. The device can freeze dry only about a quart of food at once, and this takes time. A cycle can take 24-36 hours. Sometimes, the machine freezes and requires being defrosted with a hair dryer. Because you are running a freezer, a heater and a vacuum pump then the net result is heat so the device will need to be located somewhere where heat dissipation is possible, and this might not be fun in summer. You might notice a slight increase in your electricity bill. Some users think that the device costs about a dollar per pound of food freeze dried. Lastly, there is a rather expensive oil which must be changed in the device periodically. Some of the oil should actually be drained each time the unit is used, and some of it must be replaced. It also requires pump power flushing periodically. The machine is also noisy. A few customers have reported problems with their machine but generally the customer service to the company is said to be good. My general impression is that a well informed, curious, diligent, and mechanical family is the most trouble free user of this device.
The best information on the web about this machine is:
I do not yet own one of these machines but I am very interested in those who do, and I have been talking to a lot of people who do own the machine.