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Home Freeze Dryer – Preserving Food for Long Term Storage

If you’re into preserving and storing food, chances are you’ve considered investing in a home freeze dryer. We certainly have and thus began the research. Fortunately, an awesome lady in the GardensAll and Planting for Retirement community has lot of experience with a home freeze dryer and has shared that with us!

Food Preservation and Storage – September 2020 Update

We posted this on the GardensAll Facebook the other day:

The food preservation industry is thriving during these times. Many have noticed the challenge in getting canning jars. Dehydrators are selling well, and we received this email from the main freeze dryer manufacturer:

“If you are looking to purchase a freeze dryer in the near future, I would recommend doing so soon. Right now, we are about 10 to 12 weeks behind on shipping due to the demand. If you were looking to get one for Christmas, I would highly recommend ordering before the end of September.”

To which community member, Kathie Chambers Underwood replied:

Very, very true. We decided that we could have used another pressure canner. We prefer the All American. Delivery for these have been pushed back to February. Thankfully, we have been pretty well stocked with canning supplies but wanted to up our game a bit this year. Could not find anything locally but did find a little on line. It is definitely more pricey than usual though. 

I currently have 3 trays of bone broth and one tray of cauliflower in my freeze dryer. People always laugh at those of us who lean towards prepping but this house will not be running out of food or hygiene products or much of anything for a very long time. We’ve had our freeze dryer for over 4 years now. Because of it, we currently have about 10 years worth of freeze dried food preserved. Harvest Right is a wonderful company. Great customer service and they even have a layaway program.

We’re not laughing at you Kathie… we’re applauding you for your foresight and preparedness, and your hard working pioneer spirit! 👏🏼👩🏻‍🌾💪🏼🌾

THANKS to Kathie Chambers Underwood for sharing more of her freeze dryer experience with us in this article! 👏🏼⭐️👏🏼


Lyo-what??? That’s what it’s called when you freeze dry something. When it comes to food, a home freeze dryer may be the ultimate food preservation and storage option.

Lyophilization is pronounced as (phonetically): Lī-OFF-uhl-ī-zayshun
DEFINITION: to dry by freezing in a high vacuum.

Home Freeze Dryer – the ultimate food preservation and storage solution.

While researching food dehydration, we found our way into the realm of freeze drying food. A GardensAll community member and contributing writer, Kathie Chambers Underwood has a freeze dryer for home use, and shares her photos and experience for you.

“It’s great. Only one company makes non-commercial freeze dryers and that’s Harvest Right. We have their medium size unit. It is an amazing preservation method.

The drying process is a little loud so I put it out on my porch. Most batches take at least 24-48 hours to process.”

And she does it all. Kathie dehydrates, cans, pickles and even ferments foods, including making her own sauerkraut and kombucha.

Which is Better: Dehydration or Freeze Drying?

Kathie said, “There are some big differences between freeze drying and dehydration. Shelf life being a BIG one. Up to 25 years. Dehydrating removes about 1/2 the moisture and freezing almost all the moisture. You almost retain more nutrients that dehydrating. Plus you can completely reconstitute something freeze dried to it’s original state but you can also consume the food freeze dried as well.”

Okay, so if you want the bottom line, we’re sharing that first to save you time. For more, of course we hope you’ll enjoy reading further and viewing Kathie’s photos.

Freeze Dryer Machine – Pros & Cons


  1. Longevity – freeze dried food lasts for 25 years shelf life
  2. Freeze dry everything – all foods can be freeze dried, including dairy, eggs and meat
  3. Eat as is, or reconstitute
  4. Preserves nutrients, taste, aroma, and color
  5. Retains 98% of the nutrients [1]
  6. Healthier and safer than canning (no chance of botulism from poorly canned foods)
  7. Less labor and time for you


  1. Expensive. This is a large appliance investment starting at around $2.5k
  2. Loud. Best if you have a back porch, pantry or utility area to store and run it
  3. Large.  about the size of a small dishwasher
  4. Energy intensive. Freeze drying is the most energy intensive way to preserve food
  5. The process takes longer at 24-48 hours, (but less of your time)

Freeze Dryer Home Sizes

The Harvest Right company has three sizes of dehydrators for home use:


Dimensions: 25” Tall x 16.5” Wide x 18.5” Deep
Weight 85-97lbs


Dimensions: 30” Tall x 20” Wide x 25” Deep
Weight: 105-125lbs


Dimensions: 32.5″ Tall x 22.5″ Wide x 25.5″ Deep
Weight: 147-177lb

On the weight, the variance depends on whether you get the colored or stainless steel models. The stainless steel models are heavier than the colored.

Kathie and her beau, Joe, love their freeze dryer.

Kathie said, “These are dried apples, cantaloupe and pears. They taste exactly like the fruit when dried, only crunchy but put them in water and they come back like the original fruit.

Freeze dried apples, cantaloupe and pears – image by Kathie Chambers Underwood

“Joe made some improvements that deal mostly with the oil pump. He upgraded it to where we should only have to change the oil about once a year instead of after every batch.”

The freeze dryers are pricey but the company has a layaway program.

Here’s Kathie’s trays of dehydrated tomato skins.

Freeze Drying Tomatoes and Tomato Skins

Kathie said, “I put the tomatoes in boiling water for a few minutes and then in cold water to remove the skins with a knife. Then I either dehydrate or can the tomatoes. More recently I freeze dry the skins and put them in the food processor to make tomato powder to use for soups and sauces.”

freeze dried tomato skins
Freeze dried tomato skins to be powdered in a food processor to stored for soups and sauces. Image by Kathie Chambers Underwood

Kathie added, “You know what was really cool? When I was doing the tomato skins, Joe looked at me and said, ‘Baby, I really love how you are doing all this stuff. It’s really cool’…..Melted my heart right there.”

Ours too, Kathie! Thank you for sharing! We also love how Kathie made great use of the skins that often just get tossed. What a great idea to use them for making tomato powder!

Freeze Drying Onions

Sweet Vidalia onions, freeze dried and ready for use.

freeze dried vidalia onions
Freeze dried Vidalia onions in pint jars. Image by Kathie Chambers Underwood

Freeze Drying Soup

Kathie ladled her homemade chicken noodle soup onto the trays and freeze dried it. Next she’ll store it in mylar bags with moisture absorbers.

Freeze dried chicken noodle soup. Image by Kathie Chambers Underwood
Freeze dried bags
Freeze dried storage bags – hanging system devised by Joe. Image by Kathie Chambers Underwood
Joe Folsom designed this clever hanging storage for Kathie’s freeze dried food bags. Image by Kathie Chambers Underwood

How Big Are Freeze Dryers?

Kathie said that her standard size Harvest Right freeze dryer is about the size of a small dishwasher. Here are her photos of their freeze dryer machine in their kitchen.

The medium sized Harvest Right Freeze Dryer is about the size of a small dishwasher.

Harvest Right Freeze Dryer – Image by Kathie Chambers Underwood
Harvest Right Freeze Dryer – Image by Kathie Chambers Underwood

Kathie says that they place their machine onto a rolling cart that makes it easy to take out to their porch when in use. And by the way, those jars of liquid to the right of the freeze dry machine are some of Kathie’s homemade kombucha!

Thanks to Kathie for this wonderful sharing!

For a video explanation on the freeze drying versus canning process and more on the Harvest Right freeze dryers, you will enjoy a visit to the Harvest Right website.

Happy harvesting and preserving your bounty!


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