Freeze Dryer - Anyone have experience

A friend of mine is buying a freeze dryer. Very expensive unit. I'm sure it will come with instructions and recipes but I was wondering if anyone has any experience with a unit like this. Tips? Suggestions? Recipes? Do's and Don'ts?


  • Paradox
    Paradox Posts: 187 ✭✭✭

    I have a freeze dryer from Harvest Right. We purchased ours 4 years ago, and absolutely LOVE it! Recipes is more about what you use, really. We do a lot of summer fruits--Strawberries, raspberries, peaches, apples, etc. , but we've also done meats (freeze dried liver for the pups is their FAVE!!), milk, eggs, veggies, and some leftovers for quick meals in the future (Spaghetti anyone?). I think my two absolute favorites for time savings is freeze-dried broth (I mean.. who really wants to open a quart jar when the recipe calls for 1/2c?!) and freeze-drying leftover cooked beans. We always do the largest batch in our insta-pot, specifically so we can have extra that we turn around and run through the freeze dryer. Next time.. need beans? grab a jar, add water, wait a few minutes, add beans to recipe--no overnight soaking, no fuss.

    Happy to answer any questions.

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,396 admin

    @Paradox Thanks for answering. Glad to hear from someone who has one and is pleased. I was thinking it would make storage a lot cheaper. Canning lids have become quite expensive if you are doing a large harvest. We currently have 4 freezers running and that adds up on the power bill. I make a lot of broth and that would be a big space saver in the freezer if I could freeze dry it. Freeze dried meals for wilderness travel are so expensive to buy (and some are not all that tasty) so I was hoping to freeze dry some of my favourites for travel. How are eggs? Do you freeze dry the beaten eggs raw or do you make scrambled eggs and then freeze dry those or both?

  • solarnoon.aspen
    solarnoon.aspen Posts: 219 ✭✭✭

    The freeze drying idea is fascinating. Too bad the units cost so much and use so much power...... We are off grid, so it is just not feasible. But I love the fact that once processed, that's the end of energy use for that food, and that the food is preserved so well. Maybe in the future with more solar panels and batteries....... For now, I have the plans to make a super solar dehydrator and that will do. sigh....

  • Linda Bittle
    Linda Bittle Posts: 1,469 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I really much prefer the taste of freeze dried food to dehydrated. But for most homes, the cost of the unit is prohibitive.

    Wouldn't it be wonderful if there were local commercial kitchens that one could rent as needed for our canning and freeze drying?

  • Sheila
    Sheila Posts: 105 ✭✭✭

    There are a number of places that do have commercial kitchens for rent by the hour - do a google search for your area. We have 2 here in our area; neither has a freeze dryer but otherwise they are fully equipped and licensed.

  • Suburban Pioneer
    Suburban Pioneer Posts: 337 ✭✭✭

    We were thinking about getting a Harvest Right, but got turned off by the lack of customer service (I mean, if you have a problem, they try to diagnose it over the phone, send you a part then point you towards a DIY repair video? I can just see what's going to happen the first time I can't get something to work... the unit will get heaved, with prejudice, into the junk heap...)

    Anyway, good to know that somebody is happy with theirs and that it does consume a lot of electricity. We were wondering what it might do to the power bills. They don't talk about that in their sales brochure. Wish there were a more competitive, customer-friendly unit because we really want to get into freeze drying. The commercial foods are too expensive and almost never organic.

  • KimWilson
    KimWilson Posts: 197 ✭✭✭

    I to am happy to hear from a satisfied customer. There seem to be a lot of bad reviews out there.

  • Paradox
    Paradox Posts: 187 ✭✭✭

    we honestly have never had a really bad experience with customer service, but then we haven't had to call in probably 2 years. the electric usage IS heavy.. it probably comes out to $2-3/day .. or was that a load, when I tested it. It's not like 4 figure electric bill, but you'll notice a hit.

    As for the eggs, we've done them both ways--depends on the purpose. we FD'd raw to use in baking, and scrambled/cooked to .. well.. eat. We've also done potatoes both ways.

    As for canning lids... if you think you might get a FD and/or you dehydrate, save the ones that are in good shape. You can reuse them for dried goods!

  • maryannfricko
    maryannfricko Posts: 133 ✭✭✭

    If a food was in a dehydrator for along time, would it be similar to freeze dried?

  • Gail H
    Gail H Posts: 359 ✭✭✭✭

    @Paradox I was thinking of getting a freeze dryer, but one of the downsides that I saw is that it uses a lot of oil and it has to be replaced often. Is that the case? Is it a difficult and/or expensive process to replace the oil?

  • soeasytocraft
    soeasytocraft Posts: 237 ✭✭✭

    @Paradox started to research freeze dryers today. Found this about eggs. Love Kevin and Sarah. They are very excited about their new purchase!

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,356 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My freeze dryer is on its way here! I'm excited but have so much to learn. Does anyone have any more information, ideas, or suggestions for a newbie?

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,821 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Given the price, it may make more sense for a group purchase like a local coop. Then everyone would bring their fruit together at harvest time and use the shared-purchase unit.

    This would also work well for things like a cider press.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 1,937 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Wow, the more I see and hear about the freeze dryers the more I want one. But unfortunately, not only is it not in my budget but like @solarnoon.aspen we are off grid and out little solar panel set up wouldn't be nearly big enough to handle something like that.

    Someday, maybe. I need to play the lotto or something.

  • LaurieLovesLearning
    LaurieLovesLearning Posts: 7,210 admin

    @vickeym Yep.

    I keep entering the company's draw and hoping.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 1,937 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Here is a question for anyone with a freeze dryer. Back when home freeze dryers first came out, I saw an ad where they had freeze dried a steak, rehydrated it and grilled it. It looked like a fresh steak on the grill.

    Has anyone tried something like this? Being off grid, as many are here in Alaska, t would be wonderful to have shelf stable fresh meat. Anyone know if this is possible? Or did they pull the ad because as usual since they can't control your conditions when doing it, they could be sued, so no longer recommend it.

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,356 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @vickeym I haven't tried it yet but I intend to try it soon. According to the users manual that came with my freeze dryer, freeze dried raw meat retains nearly 100% of it's original nutritional value. The meat if stored properly will be the same taste and texture as fresh once rehydrate. It warns that the freeze dryer does not kill bacteria so it is important to label well and handle the meat as raw when you rehydrate it. For best results the cut of meat shouldn't be more than 3/4 inch thick and that fat should be trimmed and bones removed before drying.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 1,937 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Michelle D When you try it can you let us know the results? I have wanted to find someone who actually tried this for some time. Not sure why the video disappeared.

  • Michelle D
    Michelle D Posts: 1,356 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @vickeym after more research I think I have figured out why you don't hear about freeze drying a whole steak as much anymore. To freeze dry something dense like a steak will take a much longer time than an average freeze dryer cycle. It is also much harder to be certain that the freeze drying process is complete all the way to the center. It takes a good amount of experience to get it right. I found several videos on YouTube where people explain how to do it successfully. I still plan to attempt it at some point but I will probably wait until I'm more confident with my knowledge of the equipment.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 1,937 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @Michelle D I understand and agree. Much like canning, the "approved" recipes are the only ones recommended because they are what was tested. The funds ran out before they could do any other testing.

  • Lisa K
    Lisa K Posts: 1,753 ✭✭✭✭✭

    I have been considering a dryer but with the price of electricity in my area (I think San Diego County is the highest in the Nation), I am putting it off, unless of course I win one!

    In the meantime, here are a couple of links with people writing about their experience -

    Home - Melissa K. Norris ( Melissa's blog has a few articles on freeze drying.