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-dryer might be something to consider, especially if you hunt or fish.
Hot Cars 'Cooking' More Kids and Pets
Graphic: The biggest increase in interior car temperatures occurs in the first 30 minutes. Compared to the image below, there is a small difference noted for rising temperatures due as it's not an exact science. However, the dangers of leaving kids and pets inside parked cars even for "just a minute" is unmistakable.
August 2, 2015
This is a topic that you'd think wouldn't be necessary. Logic dictates that excessive car heat + kids and pets can be deadly. It's much like by winter people have gone brain dead thinking they can drive 75 mph on icy freeways. Every year sees 50- and 100-car pile-ups because someone didn't slow down to suit road conditions.
By July 2015 at least 9 children had "cooked" and died after being left in parked cars. News has been plastered with many close calls for children and pets and their heroic rescues. According to KidsAndCars.org as of August 2014, 32 children had died of heatstroke in too-hot cars. The year before, 44 US kids died this way. Heatstroke in cars has killed over 700 U.S. children since 1990. It can happen in any state, but Texas, California, Florida, Arizona and North Carolina see the most.
Graphic: It might be an idea to pull down this graphic, print it out and put it on the fridge especially during Summer. It's already sized for printing on 8-1/2 x 11" paper.
Caregivers defend themselves saying they left children or pets in the car for “just a minute" while they ran an errand. Then more time passes than intended. Otherwise loving parents get hung up in a line, get distracted or lose track of time. Few realize just how quickly a vehicle's interior can hit triple digits, skyrocket even when the car is parked in shade, with the windows cracked and outside temperature seems mild.
Children, Elderly and Pets Most at Risk
Children’s bodies absorb heat 3 to 5 times faster than adults because they’re not fully developed. Heat stroke can occur when body temperature passes 104ºF (40ºC) causing dizziness, disorientation, agitation, confusion, sluggishness, seizure, loss of consciousness, and/or death. Elderly people and those who are overweight are also more at risk of overheating.
Dogs, especially short-muzzled pets such as Shih-Tzus, Pekingese, English bulldogs, French bulldogs, boxers, etc. or ones with thick or dark-colored coats are more heat-intolerant than their furry counterparts. Canines that have suffered heat stroke previously or are obese are also more at risk.
Dogs don’t have sweat glands all over their bodies like we do, so they have just 2 ways to cool off – panting and releasing heat through their paws. (Yes, dogs do perspire through their feet since there's no fur covering them, but their sweat glands are tiny compared to humans.) They can't effectively get rid of excessive body heat by panting because there's not enough cool air to breathe in a blistering car.
Tips to Help Avoid This Life-threatening Situation
- Plan your errands in ways that won’t require you leaving your child or pet alone on a car. Use the drive-thru windows at restaurants, banks and dry cleaners, and pay at the pump for gas.
- Place your purse, wallet, briefcase, cell phone or any other item you know you'll need in the car's back seat.
- Keep a doll, stuffed animal or toy in your child’s unoccupied car seat, moving it to the front seat when your child is with you to serve as a reminder.
- Each time you put your child in the back seat, take off your left shoe and put it back there too.
- If your child goes missing, check the car first – including the trunk. Kids love to imitate their parents’ day-to-day activities, and a trunk makes a seemingly great hide-and-seek hiding spot to a child.
- If you see a child or pet left alone in a vehicle for more than a few minutes, get them out and call 911 – even if you have to break the window.
Laws to Help
As of August 2015, 19 states have passed legislation allowing strangers to break a car window if they believe the situation threatens the child’s well-being.
Some states, but not all have passed legislation allowing strangers to break a car window if a pet locked inside is clearly in distress. Check here to find your state's animals-in-hot-car laws: