Thinking About Freezing Drying Your Own Food? Read This First

Holly Deyo
June 20, 2016

For folks thinking about purchasing their own freeze-dryers, there are some pros and cons to weight. First, they are different from dehydrators. We bought our American Harvest Dehydrator 30 years ago and it works great today. Nesco evidently bought them out and it's sold as Nesco American Harvest 1000 Watt Gardenmaster Dehydrator FD-1018A Dehydrator w/Book. It's always been reliable and expands holding up to 30 trays and includes a how-to book plus special plastic inserts for drying fruit. The only addition we purchased was a Nesco Jerky Works "gun" for less than $20. It presses the meat in either long rectangles about an inch wide or in tubes – ready to be dried. So for a $150 invested 30 years ago, we've dehydrated tons of food.

This is completely different than a home freeze-dryer and absolutely no substitute. If you've got the spare dollars, freeze-dryers run MSRP at $3500 and can be purchased for about $3000 (on sale) + $219 shipping. If you want the commercial model, they run $7500 + $219 shipping. This is just for starters. Then there's the on-going cost of accessories like mylar bags, #10 (1 gal.) cans @ $4. each, trays, a sealer + oxygen absorbers. Don't forget the cost of electricity, too. And the biggie – you've got to buy the food to process. Then prepare it for drying.

The manufacturer recommends the purchaser dedicate a 20 amp circuit to run their machine. You may also want to find a clever place to put it as their website says it sounds like "a noisy dishwasher" putting out 70 decibels plus heat from the freezer, heater and vacuum pump that run simultaneously. It will take a couple of people to move it as the small unit weighs 100 pounds.

No doubt, home freeze-dryers are expensive, but this isn't my main concern.

It typically takes 24 to 40 hours to complete a single processing session. Some users report needing 48 hours for most items. Food type and quantity affect the freeze-dry cycle. Things like meat, peas and corn dry quickly, while squash and watermelon take longer. Thickness of the food slices also affects dry time. Each session, regardless of how much time is required, nets 1-1/2 to 2 #10 cans of freeze-dried foods.

I'm wondering, just asking, if the money could be better spent. The biggest benefit would be for hunters and fishermen wanting to preserve their kills and catch.

You can get a year's worth (for 1 person or 6 months for 2 people) of already freeze-dried foods of your choice, top-of-the-line brands, already nitrogen-packed and sealed in #10 cans, delivered to your home for the price of the smaller unit. Done deal. Put it on the shelves and it's tucked away for your use. Freeze-dried foods have come a long way from 2 or 3 decades ago. Now you can find even ice cream and pet food freeze-dried. They cater to everyone's diet from vegan to gluten-free and soy-free and no GMOs.

To me, the time required to process a year's worth of freeze-dried food for even 1 person is a major concern. Unless your home is solar powered, when electricity is out or the grid goes down, then you're without the ability to process food. Even in the very fist edition of Dare To Prepare published in 1998, I urged people to have 1/3 of their stored foods in canned goods. If only freeze-dried or dehydrated foods are stored, people will be reduced to eating very crunchy dry chunks if they can't be reconstituted. This is an unavoidable factor; they require an ample and steady supply of potable water for rehydration. Canned foods are ready to eat even if heat is unavailable. All that's needed is a can opener.

So if you have extra cash on hand and time to spare, your own freeze-drier might be something to consider, especially if you hunt or fish.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Holly Drennan Deyo is the author of three books: bestseller Dare To Prepare (5th ed.), Prudent Places USA (4th ed.) and Garden Gold (2nd ed.) Please visit she and her husband's website: and their FREE Preparedness site:

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