If you’re thinking about getting a freeze dryer, read this Harvest Right freeze dryer review first! I’m giving my honest feedback of our freeze dryer after a full year of preserving all kinds of foods.
What is a Freeze Dryer?
Freeze-dryers use extremely cold temperatures (-40° F) and a vacuum to remove 99% of the moisture out of the food. This allows food to become shelf-stable for 20-25 years.
Yes, they are indeed among the more expensive food preservation methods. Check out this post if you’re looking for my favorite preservation tools on a budget.
It’s important to know that freeze drying is different than dehydrating. Read this post if you’re unsure of the differences between dehydrated and freeze-dried food.
And if you’d like to see some of the foods we’ve dehydrated, check out the following freeze-dried recipes and tutorials:
My Harvest Right Freeze Dryer Review
I’ve had my Harvest Right freeze dryer for over a year now. The other day a friend asked me if I’m as excited about it as I was when I first got it. Well, I’m even more excited actually, and after that conversation, I went out and purchased a second unit!
To be honest, I wasn’t very excited about the freeze dryer at first. I felt like it was kind of extravagant. People have been preserving food without it for thousands of years, so is it really necessary?
In full transparency, Harvest Right contacted us a year ago to offer us a freeze dryer in return for some videos demonstrating how to use it. We agreed but let them know that any videos we did would be our honest reviews on the product, whether positive or negative.
Freeze Dryer “Pros”
As I mentioned, I was very skeptical when I first got our freeze dryer. The first thing I tried freeze drying was fruit and I was immediately blown away by the quality and flavor of the fruit.
Freeze Dried Fruit
It changed my entire food preserving theory when it comes to fruit because I no longer needed to add sugar to make it last a long time.
Sure, you have jams and jellies, yummy fruit leather, dehydrated fruit and frozen fruit. Of those, the only ones that turn out really good without adding sugar are the frozen fruit.
But freezing fruit is very time-consuming and takes up a lot of valuable freezer space.
Freeze Dried Meals
Another place the freeze dryer really stood out was with freeze drying whole meals.
I could make a double batch of dinner and place the leftovers of whatever I made, place it right on the freeze dryer trays, push a few buttons, and I had a meal that was ready to grab and go whenever we needed them.
This allowed me to stock up on even more convenience food than before.
Having a freeze dryer has made the garden harvest so much easier. Never again will I lose an onion because we couldn’t use it up before it went bad. Chopping multiple onions and tossing them onto a freeze dryer tray is so easy and fast! Then the freeze dryer does all the work.
Freeze Dryer “Cons”
Home freeze dryers are cost-prohibitive for many families. If a freeze dryer is out of your budget, there are still many other preservation methods that are much more affordable. (Root Cellaring, Canning, Dehydrating, Fermenting, etc.)
Freeze dryers take 24-36 hours for an average batch of food. This can be cut down significantly if you pre-freeze your food. But it’s worth taking into consideration before purchasing a unit.
We got the “quiet” motor for our unit and, as you can hear in the video, it’s still quite loud. I’m not sure I’d be happy with it if I had to freeze-dry in my kitchen.
But if you have a space where the noise won’t bother you (like a basement or spare room with a door), that’s preferred.
Our freeze dryer is the size of a small washing machine. In many homes, this will just be too large of an appliance to find a suitable space to keep it.
You’ll also want it close by, so a detached garage or outbuilding isn’t ideal because you will need to check on your freeze dryer during each cycle.
Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE Getting a Freeze Dryer
What Size Unit?
We have the largest unit, and people have asked if I’m glad we got that size or if we could have been fine with a smaller one.
As you know by now, we have purchased a second unit. I always tell people to get the largest unit they can afford. The trays are smaller than a cookie sheet, so you can only fit so much in each batch.
Unless you live alone, I’d always recommend getting the largest unit. I’d rather make larger batches less often than smaller batches more frequently.
While the machine runs on 110, it does require a dedicated circuit. We had to have an electrician come out and help us get that set up correctly.
You need to have space for more than just the freeze dryer itself. You need space for the pump to sit right next to it.
You also need space below it for the runoff. Every time the machine runs, there is some ice build-up that happens. As the machine cools off, that liquid needs to drain out of the machine.
We just have the hose coming out of the back of the machine into a large bucket that sits below the machine on a shelf.
As mentioned above, it’s ideal if your freeze dryer is located in a convenient space. I’ve heard of people keeping theirs in an outbuilding, but that would not be convenient for me to make multiple trips during a cycle to make sure it’s running successfully.
I’ve had batches that have not properly vacuum sealed. If I wasn’t nearby to check on it, I would have missed the alarm, and my batch of food would have been ruined.
There are multiple reasons for your machine not vacuum sealing correctly, but for me it’s always been due to something getting in the way of the seal.
All in all, we are thrilled with our Harvest Right freeze dryer. We wouldn’t have purchased a second one unless we were completely happy with it.
Check out their website if you’re looking for more information on Harvest Right freeze dryers, the sizes, accessories, etc.