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Discussion Starter #1
Anyone own a Harvest Right freeze dryer?

I just tried freeze dried food for the first time tonight.. had my wife purchase a few small baggies of apples, strawberries and blue berries.

Wow, the sugar really gets concentrated.. there's a potato chip like crunch, then an explosion of flavor.. almost too much flavor.

I thought about building my own Freeze Dryer, but after cobbling together an expense sheet, I'm at around 70% of the price of a Harvest Right unit so it doesn't really make a lot of sense.

I understand they suck up a lot of power.. to the tune of 20+ kW per batch.. Thing is, we are on solar power and have a lot of extra juice we're not using.

So I'm thinking of purchasing one and running it until the wheels fall off for long term storage of food. Any opinions?
 

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I'm very seriously considering getting one, after reading about them they look good. I feel like it would pay for itself pretty fast and the length of time the food is viable makes it worth it.
 
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Been considering getting one and "renting" it out. Meaning people can bring their food over and I'll do the work for them, for exchange in food or money.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I'm very seriously considering getting one, after reading about them they look good. I feel like it would pay for itself pretty fast and the length of time the food is viable makes it worth it.
I wish I could figure out a way to taste test more foods. I mean, I liked the 3 baggies of fruit we got.. but what about other stuff? How good are other foods? If I make a batch of beef stew and freeze dry it, will it still be good? Would I still want to brag about it? or would it just be edible enough for long term survival? I mean, I really liked the apples.. in fact, I liked the freeze dried apples better than a regular apple. (how's that for strange?) The potato chip crunch is awesome but if I freeze dried a stew, I'd want to reconstitute it as stew, not crunch it like a snack.

I think I need more samples....
 

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Discussion Starter #6

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I just told my wife.. she's going to go through walmart for free in-store pickup.

I told her to order something with meat in it.. some kind of stew or meal.. we'll see how this works out.
Please give a review when you try it!!
 

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Just looked at the walmart site, they have Mountain house product.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I got to considering something else that a freeze dryer could do that I've never been able to accomplish..

When we harvest tomatoes, we like to make tomato paste or some kind of thick tomato sauce for canning... the problem is that the only way to do that is to literally boil all the water out.. and that causes the tomato sauce to darken and form a bitter(ish) taste.
The darkening, as I understand it, is the result of some enzyme being destroyed by the heat..

Well, I got to thinking, what would happen if a freeze dry cycle was cut short? Thick tomato sauce that has never seen any heat?? Oh my!
 

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I got to considering something else that a freeze dryer could do that I've never been able to accomplish..

When we harvest tomatoes, we like to make tomato paste or some kind of thick tomato sauce for canning... the problem is that the only way to do that is to literally boil all the water out.. and that causes the tomato sauce to darken and form a bitter(ish) taste.
The darkening, as I understand it, is the result of some enzyme being destroyed by the heat..

Well, I got to thinking, what would happen if a freeze dry cycle was cut short? Thick tomato sauce that has never seen any heat?? Oh my!
My grandmother makes some great tomato sauce, but it is quite the process. She roughly chops the tomatoes (usually an assortment of different varieties) cooks them til just soft than puts them through a food mill. After that into rimmed sheet pans and into the oven low cooked until till brick colored.

I'm wondering if after that the paste could go into the freeze dryer, shouldn't take long as most of the liquid is cooked out. Just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
My grandmother makes some great tomato sauce, but it is quite the process. She roughly chops the tomatoes (usually an assortment of different varieties) cooks them til just soft than puts them through a food mill. After that into rimmed sheet pans and into the oven low cooked until till brick colored.

I'm wondering if after that the paste could go into the freeze dryer, shouldn't take long as most of the liquid is cooked out. Just a thought.
Its that "brick color" that I want to avoid! When tomatoes darken due to cooking with heat, they undergo an undesirable reaction.. I read about this in depth about a 10 years ago and don't remember all the details, but the gist of it was that the darkening was the result of an oxidation process that not only tainted the taste of the tomatoes, but created some chain reaction of enzymes that are somewhat carcinogenic in nature....

This is why commercially canned tomato paste is usually bright red in color.. they only apply heat to it for a matter of a minute or two and spray the tomatoes into a vacuum chamber which boils off all the water near instantly.

The heat, like in so many other areas, is the enemy.. it kills the fresh taste, kills the bright color, and degrades the nutritional value.

I think a freeze dryer would prevent all that.
 

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Its that "brick color" that I want to avoid! When tomatoes darken due to cooking with heat, they undergo an undesirable reaction.. I read about this in depth about a 10 years ago and don't remember all the details, but the gist of it was that the darkening was the result of an oxidation process that not only tainted the taste of the tomatoes, but created some chain reaction of enzymes that are somewhat carcinogenic in nature....

This is why commercially canned tomato paste is usually bright red in color.. they only apply heat to it for a matter of a minute or two and spray the tomatoes into a vacuum chamber which boils off all the water near instantly.

The heat, like in so many other areas, is the enemy.. it kills the fresh taste, kills the bright color, and degrades the nutritional value.

I think a freeze dryer would prevent all that.
Interesting hers are come out very tomato flavored without the bitterness. It's a very old recipe she brought from Mexico.
 

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I have a friend that owns one and she sent me several food items to try to see if I like them.... she freeze dries a lot of food every year!
Think I'm going to get one, the more I read about them the more I like them. Do a lot of canning and dehydrating, this sounds like something to add to the mix.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Well this may be my only purchase for awhile LOL.. Hoping it pays for itself.
Hold your horses there lassie.. you might want to consider a few things before dumping three grand out the window....

If you're just interested in putting away your garden extras for the winter, that freeze dryer is going to cost you a small fortune in both its price and the energy to run it. They suck down power like crazy.

Each batch in that thing uses up almost 30kW of energy so you need to reference your power bill, see what you're paying, and then add that to the cost of each batch. Just storing food for the winter isn't going to make it economical.

As for me, I'm a prepper and working toward enough food storage for 5 or 6 people for three to five years, and I have an excess of solar power on top of that.

In fact, after doing a financial analysis, I can't see how that that machine would be a benefit unless one was a prepper.

My math starts out with "How much does the freeze dried food I need cost to purchase", and then goes to the cost of the energy and the machine itself. Then beyond those considerations, I also consider the benefits of having that freeze dryer should the grid go down for a long time since I'll have the ability to run it.

If I was just considering the cost based upon a desire to store some extra garden stuff in case we have a bad growing year, or so they don't go to waste, I don't think it would add up as being a good investment.

With all that said, I'm still having a hard time justifying it.. I can purchase a lot of rice, beans, and other "30 year storage" foods for the cost of that machine, and its a lot less work and hassle to process it into Mylar..

Here in Michigan, if you ran that machine continuously (20 batches per month), it would suck up about $75 in electricity.
 

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Actually I am off grid and have the energy surplus to run it, I have already researched price, easily within budget. I am also a prepper for as are all that live and work on my ranch, not something I broadcast about though.
 
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