Choosing the Best Freeze Dryer for Home Use

Are you looking for the best freeze dryer for home use? If so, you’ve come to the right place. Freeze-dried food is the most shelf-stable food we have when preparing for emergencies, but it usually includes paying high prices.

While there are other methods to preserve certain foods, like canning & dehydrating, nothing comes close to the 25-year shelf life of freeze-dried foods. The downside is that the pre-packaged long-term food on the market is high in sodium and unhealthy.

This is why purchasing a Harvest Right freeze dryer was a no-brainer for me. You get all the benefits of freeze-dried food, and you get to choose what goes in it.

Honestly, it wasn’t exactly a no-brainer at first; I had my reservations. I had to weigh the pros and cons before I bit the bullet because the upfront cost was intimidating.

In this guide for purchasing a freeze dryer for home use, I’ll go over the pros and cons and provide you with all the information you need to make an informed decision. Whether you’re a food enthusiast looking to preserve the freshness of your produce, reduce food waste, or a prepper building up your food storage stockpile for emergencies, I’ve got you covered.

I’ll walk you through the key factors to consider when choosing a freeze dryer, such as capacity, size, price, and durability. We’ll also discuss the different types of freeze dryers available, including the pros and cons of each.

Additionally, I’ll go over my personal experiences using a freeze dryer for some time now and how I overcame some of the initial hurdles that most people face.

By the end of this guide, you’ll have all the knowledge necessary to confidently select the best freeze dryer for your home. Let’s dive in and discover the perfect freeze dryer that will revolutionize your food storage game as it did for me.

What is Freeze Drying and Why is It Useful for Home Use?

Freeze drying is a process that removes moisture from food items while preserving their nutritional value, flavor, and texture. It also makes the food incredibly shelf stable when stored properly.

This preservation method involves freezing the food at extremely low temperatures and then slightly warming the food to allow the frozen water to transition from solid to gas, bypassing the liquid phase. 

The result is a lightweight, shelf-stable product that can be stored for extended periods without refrigeration. This makes it the perfect solution for any food storage plan.

Freeze drying is helpful for home use for several reasons:

  1. It allows you to extend the shelf life of your food items, reducing waste and saving money in the long run.
  2. Freeze-dried food retains its original flavor and nutritional content, making it a healthier alternative to processed or canned foods.
  3. Having a freeze dryer at home allows you to preserve seasonal produce, herbs, and leftovers to enjoy them all year round.
  4. You would be surprised at what you can freeze dry, including ice cream, candy, milk, meats, and prepared meals. 

Other Factors to Consider When Choosing a Freeze Dryer

Choosing the suitable freeze dryer to buy for your home requires careful consideration of several factors. This is a big purchase, and you want to get it right the first time and take everything into account.

This includes the size of the machine, where you will put it, and the energy cost associated with owning a freeze dryer. It’s also important to consider what foods you will be initially freeze-drying. I say initially because you can freeze dry just about anything that isn’t high in fat, and you are bound to try new foods.

By taking these factors into account, you can ensure that the freeze dryer you select will meet your needs and provide optimal performance.

Size and Capacity Considerations for Home Use

One of the first factors to consider when choosing a freeze dryer for home use is the size and capacity. The size of the freeze dryer should be suitable for the available space in your home, whether in a spare room like mine or a dedicated storage area. 

Below I go over the different types of freeze dryers available that will give you a good idea about which to choose.

Additionally, consider the capacity of the freeze dryer, which refers to the amount of food it can process at one time. If you have a large family, plan to share with friends and family, or just want to increase your long-term food storage, a freeze dryer with a larger capacity would be more suitable.

Lisa and I went with the small Harvest Right because we want to build up our food storage and reduce waste by freeze-drying leftovers and food that is getting close to its best-buy date.

Types of Freeze Dryers Available for Home Use

Here are the three most popular Harvest Right machines available. All of these freeze dryers are similar other than their price and capacity. The one caveat is the large freeze dryer which requires a dedicated 20 amp fuse.

Small Harvest Right Freeze Dryer

  • Fresh Food Per Batch 6-10 lbs.
  • Fresh Food Per Year Up to 1800 lbs.
  • Tray Space 434 sq. inches
  • Freeze dryer exterior dimensions: 17.4″ W x 21.5″ D x 26.8″ H (Perfect for countertop, cart, or table.)
  • Power: 110-volt outlet.
  • Colors Available: Stainless Steel, Black.
  • INCLUDES: Small Freeze Dryer, Premier Industrial Vacuum Pump, Vacuum Pump Oil, Oil Filter, Stainless Steel Trays (set of 4), Guide to Freeze Drying, Mylar Bags (50 ct), Oxygen Absorbers (50 ct), Impulse Sealer.

Medium Harvest Right Freeze Dryer

  • Fresh Food Per Batch 10-15 lbs.
  • Fresh Food Per Year Up to 3000 lbs.
  • Tray Space 675 sq. inches
  • Freeze dryer exterior dimensions: 19″ W x 25″ D x 29″ H (Perfect for countertop, cart, or table.)
  • Power: 110-volt outlet.
  • Colors Available: Stainless Steel, Black, u0026 White.
  • INCLUDES: Small Freeze Dryer, Premier Industrial Vacuum Pump, Vacuum Pump Oil, Oil Filter, Stainless Steel Trays (set of 4), Guide to Freeze Drying, Mylar Bags (50 ct), Oxygen Absorbers (50 ct), Impulse Sealer.

Large Harvest Right Freeze Dryer

  • Fresh Food Per Batch 18-27 lbs.
  • Fresh Food Per Year Up to 5000 lbs.
  • Tray Space 1107 sq. inches.
  • Freeze dryer exterior dimensions: 21.3″ W x 27.5″ D x 31.3″ H (Perfect for countertop, sturdy cart, or table.)
  • Power: 110 volt (NEMA 5-20) outlet. A dedicated 20 amp circuit is required.
  • Colors Available: Stainless Steel, Black.
  • INCLUDES: Small Freeze Dryer, Premier Industrial Vacuum Pump, Vacuum Pump Oil, Oil Filter, Stainless Steel Trays (set of 4), Guide to Freeze Drying, Mylar Bags (50 ct), Oxygen Absorbers (50 ct), Impulse Sealer.

Is a Home Freeze Dryer Right for You?

Is a Harvest Right freeze dryer a game-changer for preppers or anyone interested in long-term food storage? I certainly think so, but you need to weigh the pros and cons and decide for yourself.

Here are the benefits of owning a freeze dryer and some of the initial reservations I had before I decided to purchase the small Harvest Right freeze dryer. I go into much more detail about each of these pros and cons below.

Pros

  • 25-Year Shelf-Life Food Storage
  • You Can Freeze Dry Almost Anything
  • It’s a Money Saver
  • Lightweight u0026 Compact Food Storage
  • Reduce Your Food Waste
  • Great Emergency Cooking Option

Cons

  • Initial Upfront Cost
  • High energy Usage
  • You Need Plenty of Space
  • It’s a Time-Consuming Process

As I said earlier, if you plan on using your freeze dryer quite a bit, it will eventually pay for itself. If it’s something you might use occasionally, you may want to go with pre-packaged long-term food.

Freeze Drying VS Dehydrating

Some people use dehydrating and freeze-drying interchangeably, but dehydrating food and freeze-drying food are two distinct methods of food preservation, each with its process and outcomes.

Dehydration involves removing the moisture from food items by exposing them to low heat levels. This can be done using various methods such as air-drying, sun-drying, or using a dehydrator appliance. The process relies on heat and airflow to evaporate the water content from the food.

Dehydrated foods tend to have a chewy or leathery texture (like beef jerky). This can lead to a greater loss of nutrients compared to freeze-drying and considerably shorter shelf life than freeze-dried foods. 

Benefits of Owning a Freeze Dryer for Home Use

Owning a freeze dryer for home use comes with a multitude of benefits. Firstly, it allows you to preserve the quality and taste of fresh produce. By freeze-drying fruits and vegetables when they are at their peak ripeness, you can enjoy them later without compromising flavor or texture. 

Another advantage of owning a freeze dryer is the convenience it offers. With a freeze dryer at home, you can quickly expand your emergency food storage supply. This is particularly useful for those living in areas prone to natural disasters or individuals like me who want to be prepared for unforeseen circumstances. 

A stockpile of freeze-dried meals ensures that you and your loved ones can access nutritious food that tastes great even when grocery store shelves are empty.

What Foods Can Be Freeze Dried? 

The freeze-drying process removes moisture but leaves behind oil. Other than foods with high-fat content, the types of food you can freeze dry are only limited to your imagination.

While there are just too many to list, here are some foods that can be freeze-dried.

  • Fruits
  • Dairy
  • Leftovers
  • Entire Meals
  • Canned Goods
  • Ice Cream
  • Candy
  • Spices u0026 Ingredients
  • Low Fat Meats
  • And Many More!

Food That Can’t be Freeze Dried

Unfortunately, there are some limitations, but not very many.

  • Peanut Butter
  • Pure Chocolate
  • Butter
  • Honey
  • Syrup
  • Jam u0026 Jelly

The Pros of At Home Freeze Drying

In preparedness, we always look to up your emergency food storage game. In this video, I talk about the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer I just purchased and explore the pros, cons and how it’s a game-changer for my long-term food storage strategy.

In this video, I explain the benefits of owning a freeze-dryer, from extending shelf life to preserving nutrients and flavors. I discuss how this appliance adds versatility to your food stockpile by freeze-drying a wide range of foods like fruits, vegetables, meats, and even complete meals.

Plus, I go over the significant space and weight savings that freeze-dried foods bring to the table, a crucial aspect for preppers on the move or when cooking in a disaster scenario.

Because I did have my initial reservations, I also delved into the cons of owning a home freeze dryer. Some of my reservations were the upfront cost, energy consumption, and time investment. Freeze drying is a process that takes time; you need to decide whether the wait is worth it.

In this article, I have outlined the advantages and disadvantages of buying a Harvest Right freeze dryer for those who prefer reading over watching a video.

Pro #1: 25 Year Shelf-Life Food

Extend the shelf life of foot to 25 years

Freeze-drying is a unique and effective way to preserve food. It involves removing moisture from the food while preserving its nutritional value, flavor, and texture.

This process allows freeze-dried foods to have a much longer shelf life than their fresh counterparts, making them an excellent addition to a prepper’s food stockpile.

Overall, freeze-drying is the best way to preserve food for long periods of time without compromising its quality. This is quite possibly the most important pro on this list.

Pro #2: Versatility

almost anything can be freeze dried

Along with preserving food for extended periods, with a freeze dryer, you can preserve a wide variety of foods, including fruits, vegetables, meats, dairy, and even full meals.

This means you can have a well-rounded and balanced food supply, whether you are a penny pincher trying to save some money or preparing for emergencies or challenging times.

Freeze-dried foods are also great for camping trips or other outdoor activities, as they are lightweight and easy to transport. Investing in a freeze dryer for home use is a smart choice for building a long-lasting food supply.

Pro #3: It’s a Money Saver

save money by freeze drying at home

There is no doubt that there is a considerable upfront investment when considering a freeze dryer to use at home. That said, it can save you money over time by allowing you to buy food in bulk, when it’s on sale or in season, and preserve it for later use.

When it comes to emergency preparedness, having access to freeze-dried foods can be a lifesaver. However, purchasing pre-packaged freeze-dried foods can be quite expensive, especially if you are stocking up for an extended period of time.

Fortunately, with the help of a freeze-dryer, it is possible to make your own freeze-dried foods at home for a fraction of the cost. This not only saves you money but also gives you greater control over the ingredients you use, ensuring that your emergency food supply meets your specific dietary needs and preferences.

Pro #4: Lightweight and Compact Storage

Lightweight food storage option

Freeze-dried foods are lighter and more compact than fresh or canned options, making them ideal for easy storage and transportation. This is especially important for preppers who must move quickly or evacuate during a disaster.

My food storage plan has been affected by this as well. Canned food can quickly become heavy and requires a sturdy storage space. I can package a few meals or ingredients in mylar bags and store them in a plastic bin.

It also makes inventory and rotation much more manageable. With a 25-year shelf life, if you miss something because it’s tucked away or hidden, it’s less likely to be expired when you find it.

Pro #5 Reduced Food Waste

reduce your food waste by dehydrating it

Foods like bananas, avocados, and meat have a limited shelf life. Instead of throwing these foods away when they go bad, you can freeze-dry them before that time comes.

By removing all the moisture from the food, freeze-drying preserves its texture, flavor, and color, making it an excellent option for preserving leftovers from a meal.

Simply place the food on a freeze-dryer tray and freeze it. Once all the trays are full, freeze-dry the food to preserve it for weeks or even years. It’s a great way to reduce food waste and ensure you always have delicious and nutritious food.

Have some canned food that’s about to go past its best-buy date? Open them up and freeze-dry them instead of throwing them out.

Pro #6: SHTF or Disaster Cooking

Freeze dried food is easier to cook in an memergency or disaster

There are many disasters or emergencies where resources will be limited. This will make preparing a meal more of a challenge. The less you need to use in these situations, the better.

Water and fuel may be scarce, and cooking a meal from scratch will use a significant amount of both and create dirty dishes that need to be washed.

While you could open some canned food in an emergency, a meal you prepared beforehand that the family eats regularly will be much more palatable.

My Initial Reservations About Purchasing a Personal Freeze Dryer 

With all the benefits of having a freeze dryer at home, you may be asking why it took me over six months to finally take the plunge and purchase the Harvest Right freeze dryer. 

The list of cons I go through below is more of my initial reservations about purchasing a freeze dryer rather than the cons of owning one. These reservations are what most people grapple with when they are trying to make a purchase decision. 

This wouldn’t be an honest assessment of the best freeze dryer for home use if I only talked about the benefits. Some things need to be considered before you decide whether or not freeze-drying at home is right for you.

Con #1: The Initial Upfront Cost

The Initial Upfront Cost of a freeze dryer is intimidating

Home freeze dryers can be expensive, ranging from a couple thousand to almost four thousand dollars. This initial investment may be prohibitive for some individuals or families on a tight budget.

This is a significant concern for many people. Investing in something is difficult if you’re not sure it will meet your needs. I wrote this article to help people going through the buying process like I was not long ago.

As you can see from the pros listed above, a freeze dryer is a home appliance that will save you money over time. From a preparedness perspective, it’s a must if you are serious about long-term food storage.

Con #2: The Energy Usage

freeze drying at home takes a lot of electricity

Along with the upfront cost of purchasing a freeze dryer, you also need to consider the cost of using it. Freeze dryers consume a lot of electricity, leading to higher utility costs and overall ownership expenses.

My average cost has been around three dollars per batch, each taking an average of thirty hours to complete. While this seems like little, if you run it 24 hours a day, seven days a week, that’s about five batches or $15 per week, or $60 per month.

I’m closer to the two batches per week range, so I’m looking at around $24 a month more on my electric bill. However, the savings from not wasting food and buying in bulk more than make up that difference.

Con #3: The Space Needed

You need a good plave to put the freeze dryer

Freeze dryers can be difficult to place in homes due to their bulky size. This can be incredibly challenging for those with limited space. Another factor to consider is the temperature of the room it’s stored in.

You will not only need room for the freeze dryer, but you will also need a couple of feet clearance on each side of the unit. It also needs to be located in a place that doesn’t get too hot or cold.

We have ours in a spare bedroom, but you could place it in a basement, laundry room, or even the garage, depending on your climate.

Con #4: A Time-Consuming Process

freeze drying at home is A Time-Consuming Process

Freeze-drying is not a quick process. It can take 20 to 40 hours or more to complete an entire cycle, depending on the type and quantity of food being processed.

The easier option would be to purchase some freeze-dried food already made and packaged for you. This all comes down to the old saying, “Which do you have more of, time or money.”

While it’s easy to go to a website and buy some pre-packaged long-term food, you won’t get the same quality product and have no control over the ingredients used in the food.

It’s more “sit around and wait” than anything else. The Harvest Right freeze dryer is so intuitive that once you prepare the trays, you are just a few clicks away from the machine doing the rest.

Are Freeze Dryers Worth it?

Whether purchasing a freeze dryer is worth the price depends on your needs, priorities, and circumstances. Here are some factors to consider when determining if a freeze-dryer is worth the investment.

  • Long-Term Food Storage Goals: A freeze dryer can be a valuable tool if you are serious about long-term food storage. It allows you to preserve a wide variety of foods with a 25-year shelf life.
  • Emergency Preparedness: If you prioritize being self-sufficient and prepared for emergencies or uncertain times. Freeze-dried foods can provide you with a reliable and high-quality food source during disruptions to the supply chain.
  • Cost Savings: While the upfront cost of a freeze dryer is significant, it can potentially lead to cost savings in the long run. Buying food in bulk, & freeze-drying leftovers can save money compared to pantry foods with a shorter shelf life. 
  • Quality and Taste: If you value the taste and quality of your stored foods, a freeze dryer is worth considering. Freeze-dried foods retain their original flavor and texture and don’t have the preservatives pre-packaged food does.
  • Space and Portability: If you have limited storage space or anticipate needing to relocate, freeze-dried foods are lightweight and compact, making them easier to store and transport than canned or bulkier options.

Ultimately, purchasing a freeze dryer should be based on carefully evaluating your goals, lifestyle, budget, and priorities.

From a preparedness perspective (my perspective), it’s a game changer for my food storage plans. If you’re willing to stomach the upfront cost of a freeze dryer and go through the learning curve, then a freeze dryer will be well worth the price.

Conclusion: Finding the Perfect Freeze Dryer for Your Home

In conclusion, When deciding on a freeze dryer for home use, it’s important to carefully consider factors like size, capacity, features, and budget.

Following the tips in this guide, you can confidently select a freeze dryer that meets your needs and revolutionize your food preservation game. Freeze-drying not only extends the shelf life of food but also preserves its nutritional value and reduces waste.

Adding a freeze dryer to your home can benefit both penny pinchers looking to reduce food waste and preppers preparing for emergencies.


Dale
Dale

Survival and being prepared should not only be a passion, it should be a lifestyle. The definition of a prepper is "An individual or group that prepares or makes preparations in advance of, or prior to, any change in normal circumstances, without substantial resources from outside sources" Like the Government, police etc. I don't believe that the end of the world will be the "end of the world" I believe it will be the end of the world as we know it now. You can also find me on Google Plus and Twitter

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