Author Topic: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results  (Read 12908 times)

Offline FrugalFannie

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Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« on: October 28, 2016, 07:13:26 PM »
So finally got the Harvest Right freeze dryer and ready to start the first batch. DH set it up the other day and last night looking over the directions and checking to see what all was done, I noticed the il level on the pump was a little low. He topped it off and I said "don't fill it up too much." Not that I knew anything. So today I was doing the prechecks and one of the things you do is make sure your pump is working right and SPLOOSH! Oil all over the place. So now I'm kind of freaked out. I'm looking through the booklet to see what could have possibly gone wrong. And yep, too much oil in the pump and it will end up getting vented out the "exhaust." So I cleaned that all up and went through the checks again (after trying but failing to find some way to take out the excess oil - didn't want to use the drain). But this time I was ready! I had my hand on the button in case it happened again, the area draped off to keep the carpet clean, and paper towels in hand. This time, good to go!

So I started the freeze cycle on the machine to get it cold - required for frozen foods - as I was going to be putting homemade ice cream (no sugar, we use monk fruit to sweeten it) in. 2 trays of ice cream, 1 tray of sweet potatoes, and 1 tray of cooked scrambled eggs (15 large eggs). After putting the trays in I restarted the cycle and it's nearly done with the 9 hours of freeze time. After this it will draw a vacuum on the machine and start the drying cycle (a process where it slightly warms the food so the moisture can sublimate out and then refreezes it).

The food should be ready to come out sometime tomorrow morning.


PS. before I posted this it was time for the freeze cycle to end. Thankfully I grabbed some paper towels "just in case" because the oil did come out of the exhaust again. Not as bad as before but I'm glad I was there. So now it's started it's drying cycle and the pressure is dropping? very well. At 5 minutes in it was already at 335 mTorr, so vacuum achieved!

I will keep y'all updated!

Offline Ms. Albatross

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2016, 09:23:40 PM »
 If you are on Facebook, I highly recommend joining Betty's Harvest Right Freeze Dryers Group.  Lots of great advice and support there.

Offline cpf240

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #2 on: October 29, 2016, 12:36:16 AM »
My wife read somewhere to put an old sock over the vacuum pumps exhaust port to catch such oil spills.

Other than that, don't be afraid to drain the oil and refill. You will be doing that a lot!

Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2016, 05:49:41 PM »
SO the first batch is out. After about 26 hours the sweet potatoes and scrambled eggs were done. We put the ice cream back in for a couple more hours. That basically turned to dust when we scooped it off the trays. But very tasty dust! DH tried the sweet potatoes and liked them (without rehydrating). I think I will try the eggs for breakfast tomorrow. This machine is fantastic!

hmmmm.... can't upload the picture

Offline Stwood

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2016, 05:03:18 PM »
 :excited:


 :popcorn:

Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2016, 09:16:23 AM »
So this morning I measured out my eggs, put them in a bag similar to what we will be using when we hike and added boiling water. While I should have let them rehydrate a little longer (patience may not be my strongest suit) they actually came out very good. I dumped off the extra water, added some salt and pepper and ate up. They had great "form" and good texture, which I believe would have improved if I had used a little more patience in the rehydrating phase. I was using too wide a bag at 11" wide as that's what I had on hand. a 6" or 8" wide bag would have been much better I think for the purposes of rehydrating. Or if eating these where I had dishes I probably would have rehydrated them in a sandwich sized tupperware container with a cover and tossed them about after a few minutes to get them well hydrated.

Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #6 on: November 27, 2016, 01:46:55 PM »
So it's been a while since I ran a load because I sliced off a huge chunk of my finger which required stitches. The pain of actually keeping my finger out of the way of everything was something I didn't anticipate. It made the simplest of tasks difficult, time consuming and tiring. I couldn't clean dishes well due to trying to keep my finger dry, the pain, and the coordination as I did this to my dominant hand. I also record my podcast on Tuesdays so I can't have my machine running while I'm recording and it's not something you can really shut off and then turn back on. My microphone picks up noises very well. I often pick up sounds from the street when large trucks go past but I can edit that out or pause recording.

But things are looking up and I just put this batch in. This batch - green peppers and onions (yep, need more) Fajita chicken, spanish "rice" aka cauliflower, and then pork stuffed peppers. I need more peppers and onions as well as spanish rice but I will get that on the next batch.

I have no idea how to add photos. I thought I did it before but can't seem to figure it out now.

Offline Stwood

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #7 on: November 27, 2016, 01:59:38 PM »
I use PhotoBucket for sites like this that do not host pictures. Just C&P from there

Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #8 on: November 28, 2016, 08:00:33 PM »
So just over 24 hours in the FD and I have another batch of food. I screwed up and didn't weigh any of the food before putting it on the trays. And then I didn't take a picture of all the trays before I started packing it up. The chicken started out as 2.5 lbs before we cooked it and ate dinner the night before loading the trays for the FD. So maybe 1.5 lbs on the tray?
This is the full tray of fajita seasoned chicken:
 



The chicken that didn't get packaged individually weighed in at just over 8 ounces. It was this whole tray plus a little as I only packaged 2 individual meals for my backpacking trip as I had a very small amount of peppers and onions left over, otherwise I would have done 3 or 4 individual meals. The individual meals I "eyeballed" when packing and then weighed the packages after. They were 2.6 ounces and 2.7 ounces respectively.






Next up is the tray of pork stuffed peppers. This started out as 4 peppers. Didn't weigh it ahead of time. Total weight after FDing was 4.1 ounces. I made this into 2 individual meals.


The Spanish "rice" (cauliflower) I "eyeballed" for serving size. Most of these were 0.4-0.5 ounces. I ended up with 5 servings but thinking those will be rather small so I will likely bring extra sides and maybe make 3 servings into 2.

I figure at this rate plus breakfast was just over 2 ounces, I can carry 3 real meals a day for at most 10 ounces, packaged. That would mean 7 days of food would only weigh 4.375lbs! This doesn't account for nuts and other "snacks" I might carry but this is INSANELY UL! Even if I had to carry twice as much food for 7 days, not an issue!

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Offline Stwood

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #9 on: November 28, 2016, 08:44:33 PM »
Hey lookin good

Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #10 on: November 30, 2016, 03:44:50 PM »
If you are on Facebook, I highly recommend joining Betty's Harvest Right Freeze Dryers Group.  Lots of great advice and support there.

I'm on that and another group. Evidently Betty has been known to kick people out of her group if she knows they belong to the other group. LOL

Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #11 on: November 30, 2016, 03:46:35 PM »
Next batch is in.


The 2 trays on the left are my own mix that I call chicken & sausage gumbo, because "gumbo" sounds better than "glop." The 1 1/2 tray is my home made breakfast sausage - pork I ground myself and dry herbs/seasonings and no fillers. The other half a tray is diced red peppers, sauteed. The trays on the left were in the freezer overnight so that's ice on top of the food. the other trays were in the freezer for just a short amount of time so no noticeable ice.

The Gumbo weighs 4.5lbs, twice as much chicken as sausage and I assumed 20% liquid weight. There is some liquid, but not much. My estimate is that there is a total of 4051 calories in this food and I expect to get 7 servings from it. 578 cal/serving.

The breakfast sausage is 29oz and 96 cal/oz cooked for a total of 2,407 calories. This should give me 14 servings to add to my eggs. 172 cal/svg or 86/svg if I halve it. But I may cut the serving in half. Will need to decide after I have the eggs done and bagged with all their goodies. I like sausage, peppers, mushrooms and cheese with my eggs.

*note - my first batch I Fded eggs and estimated that dry weight of 1.9oz equaled 3 large eggs (as I had put in a dozen eggs). 3 large eggs fried are about 300 calories, that means my eggs are about 150cal/oz.
* I am using nutritiondata.self.com for my estimates on calorie counts

The diced peppers have a total of 300 calories and should be good for about 8 servings. It's 8oz cooked weight. This also goes into my eggs. That's 37cal/svg or 74 if I double the serving. I do like my peppers!

When everything comes out I will weigh everything. I know how many servings I can get from what went in so then I will take the dried weight and divide it into servings.

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Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #12 on: November 30, 2016, 03:48:02 PM »
and the reason for the calorie counts and weights is because I also am posting this on a backpacking forum and calories/ounce are important.

Offline Stwood

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #13 on: November 30, 2016, 09:53:29 PM »
I'm on that and another group. Evidently Betty has been known to kick people out of her group if she knows they belong to the other group. LOL

oops. I belong to and old machinery forum. Seldom post as there's several butthole's there. Hahaha.
Anyhow, if you mention something about an import machine, you could get banned. Just depends on their mood of the day.

Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #14 on: December 01, 2016, 09:50:41 AM »
This is a post I made on another forum. I had received a private message from someone asking a bunch of questions. SO here are the answers.

I have the original, medium one. It has 4 trays.

A few points on why I did not opt for the larger unit.
This unit size is new. And the pump is the same size. Many say that's not important but I'm not 100% convinced. The new units, I believe, are back ordered. They initially made 100 of them and offered them out to existing customers first. This was just a couple months ago IIRC.

I think a larger unit will take longer to run a cycle all the way through. Not sure. So then you would likely end up with the same amount of food per hour of FDing possibly.

I have found that I actually have to work to get this unit full. Part of that is due to the fact that I have to get ready for a backpacking trip and I don't want to eat the same thing for a week so I need to make a variety of foods to load up the trays. This isn't a problem if you want to run a load of just chicken or whatever.

We are in a small apartment, so we are also limited on kitchen, fridge and freezer space. This affects us in so many ways. Not only do I have to cook every day but I am trying to stock up leftovers to get the trays loaded and I don't really have enough fridge space for many leftovers or freezer space to load a tray, put in the freezer to pre freeze (not necessary but helpful especially liquidy foods) until I get 4 trays full. Also, the very small kitchen means I have to cook food and then clean and then cook the next food I want on the trays, and on. So a simple task like cooking a couple dozen scrambled eggs is a bit more difficult than if I was in a normal sized kitchen. Yes, my kitchen is really THAT tiny! Think slightly larger than a tiny house. I am 5'3" and can stand at the sink and touch the fridge, stove and dishwasher without moving my feet.

If I had the larger unit I think at this point I would have a really hard time filling it. I found that with my large dehydrator I actually used it less than I wanted to as I always felt "bad" about running it partially full. Which is really silly since that's a unit you can open and close to add more foods as they are ready. If you have the room for doing large batches then I say go for it!

The other thing in my case is that I want to FD COOKED food so that all I need to do is re hydrate with boiling water and I can eat it. You do not need to cook your food first. This would greatly cut down on your prep time to get the trays loaded up. I am also not just FDing individual ingredients but complete meals in a lot of cases so again, a time suck.

Pump maintenance: This is only my 3rd load so all I have had to do so far is drain a little off each time before I run a load. Not really sure why but that's what the book says to do. I noticed that this time there was a bit of crud in the oil so I may filter it before the next batch but I just realized I don't have any extra oil on hand so I may not do that. As the oil degrades it can take longer for the pump to do it's part and your cycles take longer. I'll keep an eye on that and probably order some oil right after I finish this reply. LOL But other than that, the maintenance doesn't look so bad, even to me. Mostly I think people these days are used to tossing things rather than doing maintenance or just driving somewhere and having someone else do their maintenance.

Location: Like I said we live in a pretty tiny apartment. Initially it was sitting on our dining table and it took up most of one half of the table. Quite annoying. We got a "kitchen cart" recently and it's much better. Now it sits between the table and the half wall that divides the kitchen and dining area. Maybe I'll post some pics later. This is very near our living room and tv. I used to be able to sit at the table and watch and hear the tv. Can't do that if the FD is running. Also can't listen to tv from kitchen with it running. But I can still hear the tv if I'm sitting in the living room as the machine is behind me and not between me and the tv. Also, our bedroom is just off the dining area. We sleep fine with it running. I am a very light sleeper so if it changes from freezing to drying (which is when the pump kicks on) it wakes me but like I said, I am an extremely light sleeper. I wake when the sprinklers turn on in the summer in the middle of the night (cause that's when you run them in TX) from the water gentky hitting the windows.

If you are going to put this in your basement you shouldn't have any problems hearing it upstairs. Just don't put your pump on anything attached to the walls that will transfer the vibration through to the walls. "I" would hear the vibrations. LOL seriously!

I hope this helps.

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Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #15 on: December 04, 2016, 10:11:55 AM »
This was something I posted on another forum and thought y'all might be interested:

So many people on the backpacking forum I am on, and sharing this thread, often discuss the cost of doing various long hikes, especially in regards to cost of food. And I know that y'all here are concerned about LTS of foods and by extension, how much that all costs. One of the common refrains I have seen is that for $3K for the FD, I need to FD a lot of food to make it pay for itself. This may or may not be true especially as compared to the cost of buying FD food.

There are several differences I would like to point out though in regards to the foods I am FDing and what is actually available for mass purchase.
The quality of the ingredients I am using is MUCH better.
I have NO preservatives in my food. And you know, those nasty chemicals (over 100,000 of them) that aren't even required to be on the labels!
I can customize my meals, the variety, and the meal sizes. I don't know about you but when I see some of those FDed foods for sale and they are claiming that the bucket has 84 servings and you see the average serving size is about 140 calories, something tells me I'm going to need a lot of their "servings."
Add in dietary restrictions due to choice or necessity and mass produced food won't work for many.

Next, the cost of FDed individual meals average about $7 each. Maybe $6.50 if you weight your purchase towards the cheap carb side.
Big cans are about $2.20 for a 1 cup serving of about 250 calories. (okay, I looked at MH Beef stroganoff at beprepared but my guess is it's fairly typical). And what type of QUALITY are you getting when you are getting FDed food for a little more than $2/cup?! It's like getting a 20 pack of McNuggets for $3 and you think you scored unless you really think about what you must be putting into your body! Yikes!

So I wanted to try to figure out how much some of my meals are costing me.

Currently I have a batch of a mix that I discovered this summer and LOVE. It's grass fed beef (though any beef works), okra and tomatoes all cooked up in a skillet or pot depending on how much I make at a time, with some garlic and other seasonings and a little olive oil. This was 2 lbs ground beef, 3 lbs okra, and half a dozen tomatoes. I get my beef at the farmer's market for $5/lb, Okra was bought this summer by the box full and blanched and frozen so I will estimate that it is about $5 (though I believe it was closer to $3). The tomatoes, Romas, were about $5 based on some that I bought today. So I have about $20 into this plus seasonings and I should get 10 hefty meals out of this. This works out to $2 per meal, not accounting for the cost of electricity in cooking and then FDing the food. The bags I use are about 5cents each for individual meals. When I bag for LTS I will use mylar and those bags are about 60 cents each but also hold multiple meals as they are gallon sized. So do I really save any money? Maybe not, but there's no way I can get this type of food - grass fed beef, organically raised, pesticide free produce, free of preservatives and seasoned to my tastes without overloading on sodium.

If I was to use ground beef at $2/lb and non-organic produce and seasonings I would likely find my cost per meal drop to less than $1 per meal. At that rate the math would be simple. 3000 meals and you have your cost of the FD back. This doesn't take into account sides, like extra veg, cheese toppings, and deserts etc. If you make and like lasagna you can FD that but maybe you want to have a side of green beans with that or something.

For 6 months for 2 people, 3 meals per day equals 1,092 meals. I know this because one of our goals is to thru hike the AT and do it all while eating our own FDed meals which will be mailed to us by a friend or family member.

If you have a larger family or raise any of your own food, IMO, a FD would be a "no brainer."

Offline CPT Morgan

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #16 on: December 04, 2016, 11:24:47 AM »
If you have a larger family or raise any of your own food, IMO, a FD would be a "no brainer."

I get your point and am trying to justify an FD for my own family, but to do a fair comparison, something you are not taking in to account is the electricity to run your FD and the time invested to grow and harvest your own food and to FD it yourself.  Also, you mentioned the bags, but what about the investment for the equipment to remove oxygen and seal them?  Wouldn't #10 cans be a better solution to LTS and what would be the investment be to support that, to properly store long term?

To your point though, "quality" and "choice" trumps all and is likely the reason people invest in a HRFD, not cost or time savings.

Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2016, 10:55:06 AM »
I get your point and am trying to justify an FD for my own family, but to do a fair comparison, something you are not taking in to account is the electricity to run your FD and the time invested to grow and harvest your own food and to FD it yourself.  Also, you mentioned the bags, but what about the investment for the equipment to remove oxygen and seal them?  Wouldn't #10 cans be a better solution to LTS and what would be the investment be to support that, to properly store long term?

To your point though, "quality" and "choice" trumps all and is likely the reason people invest in a HRFD, not cost or time savings.


Thank you for the questions. This is long but that's because I have thought about this a LOT before buying this unit.

I have not yet seen an electric bill with any significant FD use on it. And the cost will vary based on your electric rates around the country. I have seen others who run their FD "constantly" and yet they pay about $1/day to run it. I would say the same needs to be considered for any food storage method. I can on an electric stove and my dehrydrator, of course, runs on electricity. Obviously when I get my bill I will let y'all know how much I see in cost. After this week, if it's significant, I should see it in my bill!

This is what HR says about the cost of electricity.

Quote
What type of power do the freeze dryers use? How much will it cost to run?
Harvest Right has taken every precaution to make this appliance run as affordably as possible.

Small and Standard

Our small and standard freeze dryers use a standard 110 volt outlet.

At peak, the freeze dryer draws about 16 amps, but on the average about 9 to 11 amps (990-1210 watts) of power per hour. A dedicated 20 amp circuit is recommended. Your freeze dryer will cost an estimated $1.25-$2.80 a day, depending on power costs in your area.
I have a standard size, 4 tray unit. They now also make a larger unit with 5 trays that are somewhat larger.

I wish I could grow and harvest my own food! I pay good money for good food. I want it available for travel (dietary restrictions) and for TEOTWAWKI situations (like job loss or a total collapse of the economy). Also, we are planning to hike the Appalachian trail in a few years and this will be a significant savings for that trip. Currently I am trying to get enough meals (and variety) for my upcoming backpacking trip this weekend.

As for method of sealing. I use plastic or mylar bags sealed in my chamber sealer. My previous vacuum sealer had been crapping out on me after only 2 years of use and I was eyeing a Cabela's "hunter's grade" sealer for around $469. Someone else on this forum was talking about chamber sealers. Chamber sealers allow you to seal plastic bags without channels which are MUCH cheaper than regular vacuum bags. I literally have some sized bags that are as cheap as 2.5 cents per bag. My largest bag costs 6.3 cents per bag. When I was using vacuum bag rolls I was able to get my most common size down to 34 cents per bag for the size that I mostly use (8"x12") however, I actually had less storage space due to the amount of bag the old sealer takes to make a seal. I figure I lost at least an inch for the seals. Which is not quite as insignificant as it may seem when using a lot of bags. I did get a chamber vacuum sealer for $679 shipped. And it does seal mylar bags, up to 7 mil thick, very well, though it's not "rated" for mylar so I wouldn't want to do large amounts of mylar. For longer term storage I will use larger mylar bags. Maybe. They are very costly. There are only 2 of us so we may want to continue with the small plastic pouches. We can always put individual meals that are in plastic into a larger 5 gal mylar bag in a bucket. That would give us the benefits of being able to open only what we need and the up to 25 year shelf life mylar provides.

A chamber sealer is really the only type of vacuum sealer I would use for FDed foods because the foods can literally become powdery very quickly and that is not good for the suction type sealers. Also, we do use this sealer to seal foods going into the freezer. And it works with freezing liquids which is impossible with a regular sealer without a manual control and still messy even with a manual control as you end up having some liquid sucked up by the vacuum machine.

Alternatively we can seal in mason jars. I know there are many people who use this for "short term" foods. Like FDed marshmallows and ice cream bars. Snack type things or maybe "staples" like rice. Actually, I may do this for a spanish cauliflower rice I just started making or my tomato powder next season (tomato sauce dehydrated this season and then powdered, I may use the FD for it next year). My chamber sealer will actually seal small pint sized (and smaller) jars. This is good as I didn't have to use my handheld attachment at 2am this morning to seal up the rest of my salsa. This function will also come in handy if I am using the dehydrator or FD to powder gravies, soups/broths, sauces, etc.

As for #10 cans. For us that's not a great alternative at this point. We could borrow a can sealer from the local LDS store (they loan them out free) and buy cans from them, relatively cheap. But then we would be restricted as to when we could run our FD as to when we would have the canner available. Buying a can sealer is out of the question for us at this point. I think the cheapest I have seen for a #10 can sealer is $2K though a quick perusal shows some smaller units for smaller cans to be under $1K. It may be a possibility in the future for us. But we REALLY like the ability for individual meals.

Now, most people DO NOT USE a vacuum sealer for their FDed foods. HR suggests their 7 mil mylar and an O2 absorber and an impulse sealer. That makes the cost of sealing, up front, much cheaper but given our particular needs for our particular situation (and the fact we were buying the sealer anyway) we went a different way.

Back to the actual food we are FDing. Some may call us "food snobs" or "whack jobs." You pick. But briefly, we eat almost entirely organic produce. Sometimes we can't get it and I will change the menu but certain things my husband "has to eat" every week (like his sweet potatoes). When we can, we eat grass fed beef or pastured, organically raised chicken/pork or as close as we can afford to. We do not eat foods with nitrites. We do not eat ANY grains or derivatives. That means no corn, no vegetable oils, very little soy, no wheat or rice products, no added sugars - including any cane sugar, etc or any of the fructose/sucrose cheap garbage put into foods. We make our own ketchup for the few times we need it, and BBQ sauce and Worcestershire sauce. I would make our own mustard too if it wasn't so easy to buy it without any nasties in it. This is how we eat EVERY DAY. We have been doing this for 5 months now and look at it all as an investment in our health as we have already experienced several health benefits. So how much do you value your health?
While we can buy some organic produce already FDed, and even some meals, the cost is very high. So our cost is actually much lower and the longer we own this and are able to take advantage of seasonal price drops on this food, the bigger our long term savings will be.

I may have made a post about our cost of these meals. If I haven't, I will. I am posting similar threads on a few forums so sometimes a post doesn't make it to all the forums.

Back to the cost of storage. At 6 cents a bag, how many times would you need to use a mason jar to get your cost down to 6 cents per quart? Well, basically you can't as the lids are at least that much and usually between 10 and 20 cents each depending on when you get them and if you have a coupon. But then the cost of the jars comes into play as well. Even a smoking deal on quart jars, say $8 for 12 means 75 cents each. You would have to use that jar more than 12 times to get it down to 6 cents per use. Which for many people will mean 12 years or more before the jar per use cost is the same as my bag cost. The other cost with jars is the cost to store them. I had quite an investment in shelves over the years for my home canned goods. You need very sturdy shelving to hold all that weight. I know, I have hundreds of jars of various sizes, of food. And while I likely won't give up on canning all together, that is a very time intensive, energy intensive, process.

Variety: FDing offers the most variety for foods you can store long term. Hands down. Ever can avocado? You can't. Not safely and I wonder how that would work out on the other side! Ewwww. About the only thing I have found I can't FD are straight fats like oils though some fat/oil in the preparation of the food if you are cooking and then FDing should not be any problem. You can FD raw or cooked food. You still need a dehydrator to make jerky and not so sure you could/should FD jerky. But then again, that's probably not necessary anyway.  A lot of the meals I make, there is no safe tested recipe for canning them. Dehydrating doesn't work very well when trying to dry things with mixed ingredients. Dehydrated food also gets VERY sharp and hard. This is why dehydrated ground beef is referred to as "gravel." Ability to rehydrate FD food is much better than dehydrated food. FD food retains it's texture, size and shape better. FD food also retains 97% of it's nutritional value.

So I hope this helps and doesn't sound too much like "I'm right and you're wrong." It's not meant that way. But you asked some good questions and my answers were not simple. And they are our "justification" for buying this machine.

Offline CPT Morgan

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2016, 12:21:55 PM »
+1 FrugalFannie....  Excellent response.

Offline Stwood

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2016, 03:22:45 PM »
Karma for your efforts FFannie

Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2016, 09:35:54 PM »
I was supposed to be doing a hike of the LSHT but due to reports of the trail being nearly knee deep in spots and an incoming cold front plus more predictions for rain, my friend and I decided to go to Big Bend instead. I had never been and it was an AMAZING place and a great decision. We had sun all day and we day hiked since we didnt have the ability to cache water plus this was my first whack at ANY elevation since I moved to Texas over a year and a half ago.

But I did eat my FDed meals just as if we were backpacking. Meaning I used my backpacking stove, pot, and windscreen. And I "cooked" the meals in the bags I packed them in and used my cozy.

My cozy was designed around the MountainHouse meals I used to eat. (ok, it's been a while since I went backpacking - before I moved to Texas). So the cozy is a bit too big and I will make a better sized one before my next trip.

The results:
The meals rehydrated VERY WELL. I didn't have any problems with some parts rehydrating while others weren't ready yet. I didn't really time anything but with maybe 1 exception when I was very hungry, everything seemed to rehydrate very quickly.

Breakfast: 3 eggs scrambled, breakfast sausage crumbles, mushrooms, peppers, jalapenos, salsa (and sometimes cheese). The eggs don't come back with their true texture. All FDed eggs feel a bit styrofoamy to me. I found this is less so when I break the FDed egg pieces up a bit smaller. The combo tasted great. The best way to add the cheese is to do it AFTER the rest is done and just stir it in and it absorbs the extra water quickly. I think if I want salsa on my eggs from now on I will make that an addition after the eggs and the rest is done "cooking."

Meals: I made pulled pork, beef/okra/tomato combo, pork stuffed peppers, my version of gumbo, fajita chicken with green peppers and onions and spanish cauliflower rice and roasted zucchini slices.


The pulled pork was so tasty that I had it twice. Unfortunately I learned what too much water does - dilutes the flavor. Lesson learned.

Beef/okra/tomato combo was fantastic and basically the exact same way it tastes when freshly made at home.

the pork stuffed peppers were almost exactly the same as when they come out of the oven, just a little extra liquid of course.

the gumbo I packed I hadn't even tasted it before I packed it and I make it a bit different every time. But it was very tasty. Maybe I should standardize my "recipe" but hey, where would the fun be there? It's usually a bit of a wet dish so it was very much like it is when at home.

The fajita chicken with green peppers and onions was FANTASTIC! For all you grain eaters, it would have gone great on a tortilla wrap.

The zucchini slices actually got several trials. They are actually good as a snack, dry, like when you are hungry and waiting for water to boil. I cooked them in their own pouch. I packaged them separately just like I did the rice.
The Spanish rice was AMAZING. I cooked this by itself most times but also cooked it in foods that had no veg. It rehydrates so well and so quickly. It's great to eat while waiting for the main meal. I figure these sides are good to have especially if the main meal turns out to be just a little to short on filling me up. And at my packed size of only about .5 oz, it's easy to bring a couple extras.

There is some tweaking I will be doing. My bags are taller than they need to be. I can easily cut them down. I may also try a narrower bag to see if I like it better. The current bags are 8" wide which is similar to MH type meals but I think my bags have more usable interior width. So narrower bag possibly but at least shorter bag which will cut a fraction of an ounce off each package. I liked my meal sizes but I will be checking that on a long backpacking trip when hopefully some serious hiker hunger will set in even though truth be told, it's never happened for me in the past and it may not in the future. We shall see. If I need to increase meal sizes or numbers of meals it shouldn't be an issue as far as weight goes because the average meal only weighed in at about 2.5oz on average.

I also learned after the first series of meals and sides I packaged that I really do need to pack the food down at the bottom of the bag and not worry about crushing it. It makes it easier to pack it in a smaller space. And smaller pieces rehydrate much quicker.

Offline Stwood

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2016, 11:35:36 AM »
 :clap:

Offline chad

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2016, 12:42:22 PM »
I was supposed to be doing a hike of the LSHT but due to reports of the trail being nearly knee deep in spots and an incoming cold front plus more predictions for rain, my friend and I decided to go to Big Bend instead. I had never been and it was an AMAZING place and a great decision. We had sun all day and we day hiked since we didnt have the ability to cache water plus this was my first whack at ANY elevation since I moved to Texas over a year and a half ago.

But I did eat my FDed meals just as if we were backpacking. Meaning I used my backpacking stove, pot, and windscreen. And I "cooked" the meals in the bags I packed them in and used my cozy.

My cozy was designed around the MountainHouse meals I used to eat. (ok, it's been a while since I went backpacking - before I moved to Texas). So the cozy is a bit too big and I will make a better sized one before my next trip.

The results:
The meals rehydrated VERY WELL. I didn't have any problems with some parts rehydrating while others weren't ready yet. I didn't really time anything but with maybe 1 exception when I was very hungry, everything seemed to rehydrate very quickly.

Breakfast: 3 eggs scrambled, breakfast sausage crumbles, mushrooms, peppers, jalapenos, salsa (and sometimes cheese). The eggs don't come back with their true texture. All FDed eggs feel a bit styrofoamy to me. I found this is less so when I break the FDed egg pieces up a bit smaller. The combo tasted great. The best way to add the cheese is to do it AFTER the rest is done and just stir it in and it absorbs the extra water quickly. I think if I want salsa on my eggs from now on I will make that an addition after the eggs and the rest is done "cooking."

Meals: I made pulled pork, beef/okra/tomato combo, pork stuffed peppers, my version of gumbo, fajita chicken with green peppers and onions and spanish cauliflower rice and roasted zucchini slices.


The pulled pork was so tasty that I had it twice. Unfortunately I learned what too much water does - dilutes the flavor. Lesson learned.

Beef/okra/tomato combo was fantastic and basically the exact same way it tastes when freshly made at home.

the pork stuffed peppers were almost exactly the same as when they come out of the oven, just a little extra liquid of course.

the gumbo I packed I hadn't even tasted it before I packed it and I make it a bit different every time. But it was very tasty. Maybe I should standardize my "recipe" but hey, where would the fun be there? It's usually a bit of a wet dish so it was very much like it is when at home.

The fajita chicken with green peppers and onions was FANTASTIC! For all you grain eaters, it would have gone great on a tortilla wrap.

The zucchini slices actually got several trials. They are actually good as a snack, dry, like when you are hungry and waiting for water to boil. I cooked them in their own pouch. I packaged them separately just like I did the rice.
The Spanish rice was AMAZING. I cooked this by itself most times but also cooked it in foods that had no veg. It rehydrates so well and so quickly. It's great to eat while waiting for the main meal. I figure these sides are good to have especially if the main meal turns out to be just a little to short on filling me up. And at my packed size of only about .5 oz, it's easy to bring a couple extras.

There is some tweaking I will be doing. My bags are taller than they need to be. I can easily cut them down. I may also try a narrower bag to see if I like it better. The current bags are 8" wide which is similar to MH type meals but I think my bags have more usable interior width. So narrower bag possibly but at least shorter bag which will cut a fraction of an ounce off each package. I liked my meal sizes but I will be checking that on a long backpacking trip when hopefully some serious hiker hunger will set in even though truth be told, it's never happened for me in the past and it may not in the future. We shall see. If I need to increase meal sizes or numbers of meals it shouldn't be an issue as far as weight goes because the average meal only weighed in at about 2.5oz on average.

I also learned after the first series of meals and sides I packaged that I really do need to pack the food down at the bottom of the bag and not worry about crushing it. It makes it easier to pack it in a smaller space. And smaller pieces rehydrate much quicker.


Nice to hear it worked out for you.

Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #23 on: March 02, 2017, 05:04:07 PM »
 I've been pretty lazy lately with the food prep but I have a 30 day trip coming up soon so I'm back to freeze drying! There's a batch of eggs in right now and the rest of the weekend will be spent FDing the veggies to go with my eggs and making and then FDing my own breakfast sausage. Also took an inventory of the meals I already have made up and am planning what else I need to cook and freeze dry between now and the day I leave. We make all our own food, every day with very few exceptions. So I also have to make approx 74 meals for my husband and freeze them for him. I currently have 16. He makes his own breakfast every day so that's not a concern.

I figure I want at least 7 different lunch/dinners. that would mean I would eat the same meal 2x per week. I think I will actually have more than that number of variations before I am done though.

So far I have made and eaten:
Pulled pork
Beef, Okra, tomato
Chicken and sausage gumbo
Chicken fajita (without a wrap but working on finding a shelf stable one I can eat)
pork stuffed peppers (becomes more like stew)
and of course my eggs with veggies and cheese

I have made but not tried:
chicken in tomato sauce - I like it when I bake it and it should re hydrate well

I also have a Moroccan Chicken recipe that I love and that's headed to the freeze dryer next week, and possibly the freezer as well, after I make it for dinner.
I am also trying a cilantro lime chicken this weekend which will hopefully be a huge hit so that it can go into the freeze dryer as well as the freezer.

Offline Odin's Son

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #24 on: March 03, 2017, 03:50:09 PM »
Wow what a great post and responses! (karma)  My wife and i have talked about a FD but have always thought they were out of our reach.  I cant wait to show her this post and your pictures.  Can you tell us the specifics of your FD including where you got it and how much (or just a link)?   Thanks so much for sharing with everyone!

Offline Carl

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #25 on: March 03, 2017, 04:14:43 PM »
  Karma to you Frugal , the info here is great for anyone wanting to make their own long term foods. Thanks for the efforts of all who added to this thread with such good information.

Offline Stwood

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #26 on: March 04, 2017, 12:15:57 PM »
  Karma to you Frugal , the info here is great for anyone wanting to make their own long term foods. Thanks for the efforts of all who added to this thread with such good information.

+1

Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #27 on: March 11, 2017, 03:19:40 PM »
Wow what a great post and responses! (karma)  My wife and i have talked about a FD but have always thought they were out of our reach.  I cant wait to show her this post and your pictures.  Can you tell us the specifics of your FD including where you got it and how much (or just a link)?   Thanks so much for sharing with everyone!

https://harvestright.com/

They have 3 sizes. I have the mid size with 4 trays and I upgraded the pump. I think it was $3K with shipping. You can do an interest free layaway plan and if the price drops you can get the lower price (I think).

Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #28 on: March 13, 2017, 01:12:07 PM »
Made Moroccan Chicken. Had to freeze dry the chicken separate from the veggies and "sauce." I sliced the chicken breasts before putting them in the FD. The freeze dryer sits on a slant. This means when you have "liquid-y" things you need to pre freeze the loaded trays or it drips out of the tray. I don't have an extra set of trays so I lose time when I freeze dry "liquid-y" things. The chicken freeze dried pretty quickly. Just over 24 hours (I will have to check the log to be certain). The freeze dryer was due (perhaps overdue) for a power flush of the pump. This was good as I needed my husband to help with that (it's a 2 person job) and I needed the time to load the veggies and the sauce into the trays and have them freeze. The sauce for the 10 servings of chicken took 2 trays. I also loaded 2 trays with 12 cups of cooked cauliflower rice (was 20 c raw). This load took the longest of any load yet. A total of 34 hours. The sauce and veggie came out AMAZING. Yes, I sampled it before bagging it up. If I hadn't just done a power flush I would guess that I needed to do a power flush except all the indicators on the control panel were showing everything went as planned and the food came out good.

New load is in with cooked green peppers and onions for my chicken fajitas and some asparagus spears (first time trying that) which hopefully will make a good snack to crunch on.

Offline FrugalFannie

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Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer and my results
« Reply #29 on: April 01, 2017, 08:24:18 PM »
FDed bananas, blueberries and kiwi Man oh man is that good, especially the kiwi!