...the day has arrived. We finally fell off the fence and decided to purchase a Harvest Right freeze dryer. The decision was not an easy one. I ran a lot of cost analysis, sought out opinions of freeze dryer owners on Facebook, I bought freeze dried foods from the grocery store to test, and spent many nights strategizing where exactly I could place the freeze dryer in my home.
Things you should prepare for before introducing a Freeze Dryer into your home:
- Cost of the Freeze Dryer
- Cost of the Freeze Dryer Accessories
- Cost of adding a dedicated 20 amp circuit
- Cost of moving an electrical outlet if it's more than 6 feet from the ideal location
- Cost of electricity needed to operate the Freeze Dryer
I could just dehydrate my food with a $300 dehydrator!
In home dehydrators can only remove about 70% of the water content from your food, which greatly increases the chances of spoiling and mold growth. An in home freeze dryer can remove 98% of the water.
Dehydration causes a significant loss of nutritional value. As much as 40% of the nutritional value can be lost. Freeze dried foods contain typically 97% of the original nutritional value from when the food was fresh!
Dehydrators still make great companions to freeze dryers, but they cannot replace them.
I could just can my food with a $200 pressure cooker!
Canning, by it's very nature, doesn't remove moisture at all. If not done properly, canning can fail to eliminate the bacteria that cause botulism. Freeze drying eliminates almost all moisture, which is required by bacteria to survive. Also, my grandmother blew the top off her pressure canner. I'd rather not have the risk of blowing up the kitchen.
...but you can't freeze dry jam and preserves. Canning is also great for pickles and tomatoes. Canners can still be good companions to freeze dryers for the items that don't freeze dry as well.
Imagine throwing leftovers in the dehydrator or canning jar!
That's not going to end well. Leftover food with minimal fat can be freeze dried as it is, and this one fact can save you a lot of money. You can now buy food in bulk if it makes sense. Catch some meat on a great sale and you can easily store it for later.
I could just buy the freeze dried foods. A lot of cans can be bought for the price of a freeze dryer.
Buying bulk freeze dried food can be a great way to get started. I prefer to cycle the foods through in our normal diet instead of trusting what is inside the cans, and exactly what is inside the cans? Some products have high amounts of preservatives or other things you didn't think you were buying. With a home freeze dryer, you know exactly what is going into your food. It's the same food that your family eats every day and is familiar with. This makes it's easy to occasionally eat to save money or just to test the food.
Going somewhere? Easily prepare food while traveling or working.
I've read stories about families re-hydrating great meals on the go using just hot water. You can carry freeze dried fruit or fruit powder for making smoothies with ease, or pre-prepare your smoothie mix at home using freeze dried fruits and veggies in the blender. Refrigerator space is no longer required at work, neither is the microwave. All you need is hot water.
...and that's just getting started. If I haven't put you back on the fence yet there's more to consider.
What if one of you're loved ones has a special diet. You can now accommodate peanut free, vegan, and diabetic diets in your food storage. If you're trying to meet weight loss goals then you can make foods that keep you heading towards these goals. You can avoid preservatives that cause water retention. The most important thing is that your path to long term storage is clear of many dietary issues that hold many of us back.