#104 - Dehydrator or Freeze Dryer? What's The Difference? Part 2 - Freeze Dryer
In the last posting I discussed Dehydrators, so this time we are going to talk wbout Freeze Dryers and what makes them so different from the dehydrator that everyone is so used to using in theor homes.
Where a dehydrator worked by heating the foods up to high temperatores over a long period of time to force the moisture in the food to evaporate, a freeze dryer accomplishes the same task by doing just the oposite. A freeze dryer takes the food down to a temperature of -30 degrees fahrenheit and once it is at that temperature is creates a very strong vacuum inside the chamber.
Once the food has been subjected to the negative pressure of the vacuum the food is then dropped to -50 degrees fahrenheit before it is heated back up slightly to allow the moisture inside the food to escape. Moisture can only exist in two forms inside a vacuum, either in a solid form as ice, or in a gas form as a vapor.
As the food is slowly warmed back up the moisture comes out of the food in the form of a vapor and clings to the walls of the vacuum chamber as ice. This removes just as much moisture from the food as dehydration does, however since the foods are never heated up to high temperatores, the nutritional content of the foods are not lost in the process.
At least 99.8% of the vitamins and nutritional content contained in the food before freeze-drying are still present in the freeze-dried food afterward. Also, since the foods are not jubjected to high temperatures like in dehydration, the foods do not shrivel up and change colors. Most foods still look almost the same as they did before the freeze-drying process except that they will now be extremely lightweight, dry, and brittle.
For instance, if you freeze dry a 16 ounce sirloin steak, it will still look just like it did before, except that because the moisture has been removed from it, the steak will now only weigh a few ounces until it has been rehydrated again. This makes them excellent for backpacking and situations where lightweight foods are preferred.
A full month's worth of 3-meals a day can be freeze-dried, and packaged in mylar bags with oxygen absorbers and still be lightweight enough to be lifted and carried easily with one hand. In fact I have stored a full months worth of food for both my wife and myself in mylar bags and have them stored in a plastic bucket that is easy to carry if we ever need to evacuate and I still pickup and carry the bucket easily with one hand. A full 180 meals, easily carried by one hand.
Besides the nutritional benefits to freeze-drying foods over dehydrating them, you also get a much longer shelf-stable storage time for the foods. Freeze-dried foods can be safely stored for 20 to 30 years if it is packaged correctly. Remember that dehydrated food only stored for 3 to 5 years, so freeze-drying greatly adds to the shelf-life of your foods. Meats are good for 20 years, while most other foods are good for a full 30 years, all without refrigeration.
Just think, you can now buy meats when they are on sale at the butcher or grocery store, and freeze-dry it to be stored in mylar bags on a shelf in your pantry instead of being in a deep freeze wasting electricity every month to keep it frozen. You never again have to worry about a power outage costing you all the expensive meats stored in your freezer.
The major drawback to freeze dryers is their upfront costs. A small home freeze dryer will run you $1,995. While this may seem like a hefty investment, the Harvest Right freeze dryer quickly pays for itself in most cases within just the first few months of using it.
Here is a video from "Retired At 40", a YouTube channel that create a lot of instructional videos on using the freeze dryer. In this video he demonstrates just how quickly a freeze dryer can pay for itself. Keep in mind that his calculations are based on the Medium sized Harvest Right freeze dryer for $2195, which is a little more expensive than the small-sized model I listed above.
As you can see, by freeze-drying your own food instead of purchasing commercial freeze-dried foods which are very expensive, not to mention the additional shipping costs required, the freeze-dryer very quickly pays for iteself.
Plus by freeze-drying your own foods instead of purchasing commercially freeze-dried foods, you control what goes in it, so you know there are no preservatives, additional salt, or MSG added to the food which is very common in commercially packaged foods.
Many people even use their freeze-dryiers to create an additional income for their families by packaging freeze-dried foods and selling them at farmers markets. Now not only is their machine saving them money for their families meals, but it is also creating an additional income source for them.
Once you start using the freeze dryer, you will find yourself wanting to use it more and more, especially if you are a gardener to safely preserve all of the fruits and vegetables from your garden at their ripest point, thereby locking in all of those nutrients and vitamins at their peak.
When you are ready to consume the food, the fruits and vegetables can either be eaten as they are as a snack, or rehydrated by soaking in water. For raw steaks, porkchops, and similar cuts of meat simply dip them into a bowl of warm water for a few seconds and blot dry with a papertowel. Then they are ready to cook as you normally would.
A freeze dryer is much more versitile than a dehydrator is, in that you are also able to preserve raw meats for long-term shelf-stable storage.
As of right now, Harvest Right is the only manufacturer of home freeze driers. I hope that as their sales continue to increase, other companies will start producing their own brands. That will help to bring the cost of freeze driers down with the added competition.
I highly recommend that everyone look into getting a freeze dryer for their family. It is a wise investment that will pay for itself quickly and provide you with a very inexpensive way of creating a true long-term food storage solution to feed your family for years to come.
Until Next Time,
Aloha & 73