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I Bought a Freeze Dryer!!! Wohoooooo!

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  • I Bought a Freeze Dryer!!! Wohoooooo!

    After a year of contemplating and procrastinating, I finally bought a freeze dryer this morning. Won't be here for a while, but its done and paid for.

    We bought the Harvest Right Large in White. We have thousands of pounds of food stored but there are certain types of food that just can't be stored without freeze drying. I know about all about the Mountain House and other brands, but they are so expensive its just stupid.

    I watched hundreds of videos on youtube and read postings on forums and the facebook groups to familiarize myself with the energy/cost mathematics and operations of the Harvest Right units, and it wasn't difficult to figure out that doing a large amount of freeze drying yourself is far more economical. Add in the fact that my entire home is solar powered and we have way more solar energy than we need, and it becomes even more economical. My electric utility supplier owes me over 3 megawatts of power that we've saved up since I put the solar system in.

    We have thousands of pounds of food stored, but most of it are the types of grains we purchase in 50 lb bags. Beans, rice, oats, lentils, split peas, wheat berries, flour, etc. The staples are hugely important, but they are also incomplete and boring if you're forced to eat the same thing every day. We also do a lot of pressure canning where we create stews and soups of various flavors and can them up. But pressure canning removes a lot of the available nutrition and has a very limited shelf life. Even 5 to 7 years is pushing it with canning. I ate a quart of pressure canned fish soup the other day (8 years old) and while it was edible, there's a lot of room for improvement.

    We also have hundreds upon hundreds of condensed Campbell type soups stored. Among my favorites are the Mushroom soups, but mushroom soup is best with whole milk and you can't store whole milk unless its freeze dried. We have a couple hundred pounds of powdered milk in Mylar, but its the non-fat type because the way powdered milk is processed (Spray drying), the powdered whole milk doesn't last but a few years so when buying it for long term storage, you have to buy low fat or non-fat.

    Well, with a freeze dryer, I can start opening those cans of Mushroom soup, about 10 at a time, and cook them up with normal whole milk and then freeze dry the entire pot of soup and pack in Mylar for a 30 year shelf life.

    We don't have much cheese stored either because it must also be freeze dried. I do have 5 lbs of powdered Cheddar I purchased as a sample, but that won't go far. We also have some cheese type Campbell soups in cans, but that's also very limited. And I love cheese! In a SHTF world, cheese would be one of the things I would miss dearly. Well, with a Harvest Right, we can purchase cheese in bulk 10lb blocks and freeze dry as much as we want. Pepper Jack, Mozzarella, Swiss, etc.

    Meats and fish are another issue as well. We can pressure-can them, but the storage time is limited and they lose a lot of their flavor and nutrients. The other drawback is that glass jars are heavy and take up a lot of space. Trust me, I know.. I have about 1000 jars in the basement and about 600 of them are full. They take up a lot of room and you need heavy duty shelving to hold them because they're so darn heavy.

    And don't even get me started on Ice Cream! LOL. I've never tried Astronaut Ice Cream before..

    There's another advantage to freeze dried foods that you don't see mentioned much, and that is the fact that you can freeze dry soups and stews that only require boiling water to reconstitute into a hot meal. No cooking odors to travel over the landscape and alert others to the smell of your meal.

    The other items we are very short on are fruits and vegetables. We have a lot of them canned but they never taste quite right. My wife bought some small sample bags of freeze dried fruits from Walmart this winter and it was like eating candy. They didn't even last two days, and I can't even describe how much I like the freeze dried apples.

    So I figure it this way, I spent a bit over $3000 on the Harvest Right unit, we'll use it for a couple years and pack away enough food to feed a small army and then sell it to recoup some of the money. Judging from the used units I see on Craigslist and Ebay, we should be able to recoup about 60% of our money.

    I figure the amount of food we'll be able to freeze dry in a couple years should be worth about $30,000 - $50,000 if we purchased it from one of the freeze dry companies. I know that a single batch of freeze dried food in the Harvest Right can fill up two to three of the #10 cans.. and the mountain house cans range from around $35 to $70 each!

    Without having solar to provide free energy to power the thing, (they use about 26,000 watts per batch on average) I'm not sure if I'd make the same choice, but since we generate all this extra energy, I think its going to work out great.

    I can even freeze dry dog food!

  • #2
    Jerry D Young would be proud.