Lyophilization

That’s what it’s called when you freeze dry something. When it comes to food, it’s the ultimate food preservation and storage option.

The ultimate food preservation and storage solution.

While working on an article on 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 makes her own sauerkraut and kombucha, as you can read about this article.1)

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

PROS

  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

CONS

  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:

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

STANDARD (MEDIUM):
Dimensions: 30” Tall x 20” Wide x 25” Deep
Weight: 105-125lbs

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

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

Test

 

 

“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 good news is that the company has a layaway program.

 

Here’s Kathie’s trays of dehydrated 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. 💗

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

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

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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

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.

Kathie says that they place their machine onto a rolling cart that makes it easy to take out to their porch when in 320x100-4use. 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.


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I’m LeAura Alderson, entrepreneur, ideator, media publisher, writer and editor of GardensAll.com. Pursuits in recent years have been more planting seeds of ideas for business growth more than gardening. However, I’ve always been interested in medicinal herbs and getting nutrition and healing from food over pharmacy. As a family we’re eager to dig more deeply into gardening and edible landscape for the love of fresh organic foods and self sustainability. We thoroughly enjoy and appreciate the creative ingenuity of the GardensAll community.