Author Topic: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!  (Read 14009 times)

Offline NotAGrasshopper

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Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« on: November 11, 2011, 01:33:23 PM »
Today I bought a freeze dryer!!!

There is no way I can afford to buy freeze-dried food for both my family and the in-laws and all the other grasshoppers who intend to show up on my doorstep.

Now I can buy food at Restaurant Depot or Costco and freeze-dry it myself and pack into #10 cans w/ O2 absorbers.  A can of freeze-dried chicken will cost me <$10 instead of $40.

Yay!!!!!!

Offline Jesse2004

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2011, 03:56:31 PM »
Congratulations!  I'm curious - which model did you buy and why?


Offline fritz_monroe

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2011, 03:59:54 PM »
Congrats, and yes, please post a link.
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Offline NotAGrasshopper

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #3 on: November 11, 2011, 04:23:54 PM »
I bought a Northstar very similar to the blue machine on this page:  http://www.freezedryco.com/equipment/custom_equipment.html but smaller.  The one in the picture is 36x66" and mine is 24x52".  That means approximately 32 square feet of drying space with all the racks installed.  I chose the one I did based solely on price.  I found a used one for sale at a favorable price (they can cost >$15k new) and split the cost with my uncle (my 60% to his 40%).

My plan is to immediately start freeze drying meats - pork chops, beef, chicken, shrimp - the stuff that costs big bucks if you buy them.  Then I'll move on to fruits, vegetables, etc.

Unfortunately it would not be legal for me to sell anything I freeze-dry and I wouldn't want the liability anyway.  To help defray the costs I may open up the machine to contract drying of other peoples' stuff (incl. food) where they essentially rent time in the machine by the day or week - meaning someone shows up at my house with 50 pounds of cooked pork chops, loads them in the machine, turns it on and returns in two weeks to unload their stuff.  Maybe.


Offline Nicodemus

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #4 on: November 11, 2011, 06:14:03 PM »
Wow, congratulations, NAG!

Please let us know how it works out.


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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2011, 06:23:03 PM »
I was trying to find the prices but couldn't find them.  I'm so envious that you got one!

Offline Herbalpagan

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2011, 07:23:27 PM »
congrats! I'm totally jealous here.  ;D
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Offline Truik

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #7 on: November 11, 2011, 07:45:11 PM »
That is awesome!

How long does it take to freeze dry stuff on average?

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Offline NotAGrasshopper

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #8 on: November 11, 2011, 08:59:49 PM »
That is awesome!

How long does it take to freeze dry stuff on average?

Two weeks!

Offline Truik

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #9 on: November 11, 2011, 09:11:35 PM »
Cool. (pun intended.)

So it generally doesn't vary with the size or thickness of the item.

'good to know.

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Offline NotAGrasshopper

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #10 on: November 11, 2011, 10:38:35 PM »
Cool. (pun intended.)

So it generally doesn't vary with the size or thickness of the item.

'good to know.

Actually it does...  I don't know enough yet but know enough about the basic physics to know that size does matter (har, har).  I will post details after my first runs.

Offline NotAGrasshopper

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2011, 10:42:06 PM »
I was trying to find the prices but couldn't find them.  I'm so envious that you got one!

@annestacey:  for a machine like mine plan on $4-6k after shipping. That is for used equipment that works.

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #12 on: November 12, 2011, 12:15:02 AM »
NotAGrasshopper- even if people are drying their own food you'd likely have to go through food prep area inspections and licensing, tread carefully.

Have you thought of doing a dried flower service, bridal bouquets and so on?
You'd probably sell most of your services via local florists, and have little marketing/sales to do yourself.

Offline NotAGrasshopper

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2011, 06:21:07 AM »
NotAGrasshopper- even if people are drying their own food you'd likely have to go through food prep area inspections and licensing, tread carefully.

Have you thought of doing a dried flower service, bridal bouquets and so on?
You'd probably sell most of your services via local florists, and have little marketing/sales to do yourself.

Yeah have thought about the flower thing. That seems to be the biggest reason these things exist.

As for the food (or flowers for that matter), I doubt I'll have much spare capacity for a year or so.  I'll investigate in the meantime.

Offline LvsChant

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #14 on: November 13, 2011, 06:54:10 AM »
Wow! That's exciting NaG. Please keep up posted on your experiences.

Offline SteveandTracyinKY

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2011, 02:00:14 AM »
That is definitely cool. I have to jump on the jealousy wagon here, please let us know about it.
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Offline PrimalTroy

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2011, 09:01:37 AM »
Whoah! Majorly envious here! Very interested in hearing how this works out too.

Offline bigpoppadoc

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #17 on: April 06, 2012, 10:12:13 AM »
Hello all.  I'm new here, so please forgive me if I unintentionally violate some forum rules.  I was searching for a new lip seal for my Northstar freeze dryer and ran across this post from notagrasshopper.  I did the same thing as you and bought 2 used freeze dryers and what a journey it has been.  I have spent more money than I ever intended but I am too far to turn back now.  I have a child allergic to a common ingredient in mass-produced freeze dried foods thus my interest in freeze dryers to preserve my own food (better tasting, healthier etc.).

I have learned a great deal in this process.  You will likely run into problems, so please contact me if I can be of any help.  I couldn't tolerate the week of freeze/defrost cycles for a single load so I have adapted a modern freeze drying method of applying heat that was not available when these old Northstars were made. I can dry a load of food in 1-2 days now.   Also, I picked up a vacuum/nitrogen purge sealer that will seal up to 7mil thick mylar bags.  It is a must have for long term storage and well worth the money. 

Good luck in your endeavor!

Offline Cedar

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #18 on: April 06, 2012, 10:35:45 AM »
Two weeks does seem to be a lot longer than I ever imagined it would take. That is how long they take commercially too? Or did?

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Offline Mr. Bill

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #19 on: April 06, 2012, 11:04:13 AM »
Hello all. ...

Hello, bigpoppadoc -- welcome to TSP Forum!

Don't worry, we aren't the sorts to go banning new members just because of minor mistakes.  We like to toy with our food first I mean, this is a pretty friendly place. 8)  Looking forward to hearing about your freeze-drying experiences.

Stop by the Intro Thread when you've got a few minutes and say hi.

Two weeks does seem to be a lot longer than I ever imagined it would take. That is how long they take commercially too? Or did?

The only time I've ever used one of these machines was in a biochemistry lab, but yeah.  Slow steady evaporation (or sublimation, technically) of water vapor directly from the frozen material -- it takes a long time, assuming you want the material to stay ice-cold during the process.

Offline NotAGrasshopper

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #20 on: September 23, 2012, 11:05:26 PM »
Hello all.  I'm new here, so please forgive me if I unintentionally violate some forum rules.  I was searching for a new lip seal for my Northstar freeze dryer and ran across this post from notagrasshopper.  I did the same thing as you and bought 2 used freeze dryers and what a journey it has been.  I have spent more money than I ever intended but I am too far to turn back now.  I have a child allergic to a common ingredient in mass-produced freeze dried foods thus my interest in freeze dryers to preserve my own food (better tasting, healthier etc.).

I have learned a great deal in this process.  You will likely run into problems, so please contact me if I can be of any help.  I couldn't tolerate the week of freeze/defrost cycles for a single load so I have adapted a modern freeze drying method of applying heat that was not available when these old Northstars were made. I can dry a load of food in 1-2 days now.   Also, I picked up a vacuum/nitrogen purge sealer that will seal up to 7mil thick mylar bags.  It is a must have for long term storage and well worth the money. 

Good luck in your endeavor!

Wow, can't believe I missed this.   Ping me back if you see this.  I did finally make a very nice replacement seal using rubber I bought from Fisher Scientific.  Works great. 

I am not applying heat but instead setting the product chamber refrigeration to about 38 degrees.  The food stays frozen because sublimation carries off so much heat.  By the time the food can warm up to 38 it's dry.  The only reason I'm leaving the product chamber compressor on at all is in case something goes wrong I don't want to spoil the food before I can fix the issue.  My cycles are now 3-4 days.  Wow that sounded funny.
« Last Edit: September 23, 2012, 11:12:01 PM by NotAGrasshopper »

Offline caverdude

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #21 on: October 03, 2012, 06:12:44 PM »
Is that thing 240 volt? 3 phase or not?

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Offline doublehelix

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #22 on: October 13, 2012, 02:00:30 PM »
What type of food safety issues do you run into with a two week freeze-thaw cycle ?

Offline morg@n

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #23 on: May 14, 2013, 06:20:02 PM »
@annestacey:  for a machine like mine plan on $4-6k after shipping. That is for used equipment that works.

Where do you think is the best place to find for used equipment like yours? I also wonder how to make sure that the equipment is still in good shape? I would love to have mine too, hopefully.
Here is a post from Freeze Dry Guy that educates about hurricane preparedness and disaster preparedness food.

Offline NotAGrasshopper

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #24 on: May 18, 2013, 09:57:06 AM »
Where do you think is the best place to find for used equipment like yours? I also wonder how to make sure that the equipment is still in good shape? I would love to have mine too, hopefully.

I bought mine on bidonquipment.com

@doublehelix:  none.  The food doesn't thaw.  Also, I have it down to a couple days now.

@caverdude:  240 volt, single phase.  It draws about 15 amps when everything it turned on.  With the refrig off (which is how I now run it), it draws about 8 amps.

Offline jjspi

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #25 on: June 02, 2013, 11:11:07 PM »
You wouldn't happen to live in Utah ?  If so are you willing to let me come do a few batches (for a price of course)?

Offline Nicodemus

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #26 on: June 03, 2013, 07:07:16 AM »
You wouldn't happen to live in Utah ?  If so are you willing to let me come do a few batches (for a price of course)?

Jjspi, when you have a moment please drop by The Intro Thread and formally introduce yourself to the other forum members.


Offline Erigorn

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #27 on: June 03, 2013, 12:17:01 PM »
You wouldn't happen to live in Utah ?  If so are you willing to let me come do a few batches (for a price of course)?

If I recall he is in Texas. I'm in Utah and wondered the same thing. Started looking into building my own or buying one. Can buy a lot of freze droid food for the cost. Splitting and doing a time share type arraignment might work. Welcome and come say hi in the regional forum. Send me a private message if you are interested in looking into getting one.

Offline morg@n

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #28 on: June 27, 2013, 03:13:19 PM »
I bought mine on bidonquipment.com


Thanks! I tried to follow the link you share but I can't find it. Instead, I landed on this site www.bid-on-equipment.com. Is this the same site you are referring?
Here is a post from Freeze Dry Guy that educates about hurricane preparedness and disaster preparedness food.

Offline strannick

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Re: Today I bought a Freeze-Dryer!
« Reply #29 on: September 02, 2013, 12:40:35 AM »
Hi;
I have one of these Northstar 3680s priced out. Thanks by the way for maintaining this thread for what looks like going on 2 years?
You mentioned you have the cycle down to 2-3 days, without running the refrigeration. Could you explain please how you do that?
Also, how many trays do you have inserted and what dimension are they?
Lastly, what thickness do you generally cut the food to?
Thanks for your time.