The stainless steel Commercial Grade Food Dehydrator shown below arrived yesterday and I will be putting it to work soon. This upgrade will allow me to dehydrate much more food in the same amount of time and with the same amount of electricity as my smaller Nesco plastic dehydrator allowed, which will save me both time and money.
I am also considering purchasing a matching stainless steel Freeze Dryer like the one shown below to go with it. This will keep me from having to purchase cans of freeze-dried meats and ingredients that don't work well just dehydrated.
A Freeze Dryer works differently than a dehydrator to accomplish the same task, removing the moisture from foods to create shel-stable foods that do not require refrigeration. While a dehydrator uses heat to remove the moisture and dry the food out, a freeze dryer freezes the food to between -40 and -50 degrees, then it slowly warms the food back up while creating a vacuum environment around the food which draws the moisture out of the food as a vapor. This allows the food to retail its original color, vitimins and nutrients when freeze-dried. Then when the foods are rehydrated, they retain their original texture.
Another huge difference between a dehydrator and a freeze dryer is that dehydrators will create foods that are shelf-stable for aboout 4 to 5 years when sealed and stored properly, while freeze dryers create foods that are shelf-stable for 20+ years when sealed and stored properly for true long-term food storage.
Plus, with my own freeze dryer, I can have the actual foods that I want to have for my family instead of just what is commercially available. For instance with beef, the only commercially available options are ground and diced. There is no option for beef strips, steaks, or anything else, which are all possible with a freeze dryer.
Just imagine after a disaster while everyone else is eating their MREs, beans, and rice, you could be enjoying a nice sirloin or t-bone for your dinner. Wouldn't you rather have a home-made lasagna or ravioli instead of a can of SPAM mystery meat or an MRE for dinner? Or, what about having a nice ice cream sandwich as a snack after a long day of rebuilding after a disaster?
Why miss out on great holiday meals just because of a disaster? With a freeze dryer you can freeze dry your own complete holiday meals like turkey with gravy, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, corn, the list is practically endless. Just rehydrate with warm water and you are ready to serve a full Thanksgiving or Christmas feast while everyone else is eating their beans and rice.
Forget about the commercially available cans of freeze-dried bacon crumbles to mix into your scrambled powdered eggs, I could freeze dry my own real strips of crispy maple & brown sugar seasoned bacon to have for breakfast after the apocalypse. The possibilities are almost endless when you are doing it yourself instead of relying on what someone else decides will be commercially available to you.
Here is a video that shows how easy it is to freeze dry your own foods at home.
The only drawback is the price difference between the two machines as freeze dryers are extremely expensive. Even a small stainless steel home model like this one is just over $2,000 so I have a lot of considering to do on this one. Other colors like black, white, or red are about $300 cheaper, but with food preparation equipment I like to keep everything stainless steel for food safety and sanitation reasons, so I will go with the higher priced option to get that.
I have calculated what it would cost me to freeze dry food versus purchasing it already freeze-dried in #10 cans and having them shipped and the freeze dryer would pay for itself in less than a year, so it is actually a huge cost saver. Plus the longer shelf-life of the foods really adds to its value.
You do not need to purchase both a dehydrator and a freeze dryer. When considering your long-term food storage, think about what kinds of foods you are wanting to store for your family, and how long you are wanting to store it for. Then you can decide which option is best for you.
If you are wanting to only store your foods for 4 or 5 years and do not mind that the food changes shape or shrivles up as it is dried, then the cheaper dehydrator option would be best. If however, you are wanting to create foods with a shelf-life of 20+ years and you want the food to retain its original shape, size, and colors, then perhaps upgrading to the freeze dryer option would be your best bet.
For me personally, I will use the dehydrator mainly to demonstrate dehydrating foods for others, but when it comes to food that I will be storing for my family, I would rather use the freeze dryer so that the food has the longest shelf-life possible and look like real food when it is done.
Until Next Time,
Aloha & 73
P.S. Just in case you thought I was joking about being able to freeze dry a complete holiday turkey dinner, watch this quick video.