While there are many ways to use fruits and vegetables from your garden, freeze-drying opens up a new world of possibilities.
- Preserving food for your family
- Preserving your garden harvest to better store food, and keep it from going bad
- Implementing a comprehensive long-term food security plan
- Easily share food with others in need
- Sharing freeze drying capabilities with other families or extended family members
- Supplement your income, especially during off-season gardening months
- Grind up dried fruits and vegetables for various crafting uses
3 Important Benefits of Freeze Drying
There are many benefits to freeze-drying your food items, including having better control over the quality of the foods you eat, improving the flavor of your stored foods, saving money (especially if you grow your produce), supporting your local community to help them find and store foods more efficiently, and even have the means to make a supplemental income.
Plus, you’ll quickly see that freeze-dried food take up a lot less space than other styles of food preservation. And you won’t need to worry so much if the power goes out because freeze-dried foods are shelf-stable.
Improve Your Food Quality By Freeze-Drying
So many companies produce freeze-dried foods without disclosing the quality of the foods they are selling. If you’ve ever purchased freeze-dried foods from a major corporation, you’ll quickly see the difference when you try them for yourself. With a home freeze dryer, you choose what foods you use to know exactly what to expect. Whether the foods you dry come from your garden, grocery store, local farmer’s market, or even your leftovers, you are in complete control of the food you save, and how long you keep them saved.
Improved Taste When You Freeze Dry Food Yourself
Don’t settle for the small dice or shavings of fruit or meat that are most common with store-bought, freeze-dried products. When you freeze-dry food, you maintain the same appearance, flavor, and nutritional content. Freeze drying, unlike dehydrating, does not cause your food to shrink or toughen.
Home freeze-drying preserves the taste of any type of food and will taste fresh, even up to 25 years later, eliminating any need for pre-packed emergency food storage packs that taste like cardboard and have questionable nutritional value. Prepare it and preserve it how you want it, and be able to enjoy it when you want it.
Freeze-Drying Your Food Saves Money
The increasing costs associated with buying pre-packaged food to save for longer timeframes can be stressful, especially when you need to buy enough food for your family’s needs. With a home freeze dryer, you can prepare enough food storage for your entire family at a fraction of the cost, especially if you’re growing fruits and vegetables in your garden.
Freeze-Drying Food Is Easier Thank You May Think
Freeze dryers are actually very easy to use, are relatively small in size, and have a surprisingly large capacity.
If you’re using a freeze dryer with smart technology, like Harvest Right, all you need to do is place various types of food in the chamber, press start, and walk away. The freeze dryer automatically calculates the necessary dry time and automatically monitors the freeze-drying process to completion.
The machine handles everything else. Freeze drying works by using a vacuum pump (with or without one that uses vacuum pump oil) to remove moisture from the food placed on its trays. This process does not use heat, like food dehydrators, which preserves the full nutritional value.
You will want to keep a stash of oxygen absorber packs and mylar bags or mason jars to keep your freeze-dried foods fresher longer.
Dehydration vs Freeze Drying
Why freeze-dry when you can use a dehydrator? The number one benefit of freeze-drying, as mentioned above, is that the freeze dryer doesn’t use heat. Dehydrated foods are often difficult to get all the moisture out of, allowing them to mold fairly quickly.
Freeze-dried fruit and dehydrated fruit have very different textures. While the dehydrated fruit is more chewy, while the freeze dried fruit has more of a crispy texture. Both reconstitute similarly by soaking in water and may be kept in your pantry for storage.
31 Ways To Use Freeze-Dried Foods
You could sell freeze-dried herbs, fruits, and vegetables, and grind them down into a powder for a variety of uses like:
- Smoothie mixes
- Juice mixes
- Tea leaves
- Soup bases
- Flavoring blends
- Enhance food nutrition in baked goods
- Naturally color homemade crackers, pasta, or other grains
- Provide parents a solution to ease kids into receiving more nutrition without extra stress
- Omelet or frittata seasoning
- Flavor, coloring, or additional nutritional value in homemade gummies
- Casserole seasoning
- Powdered versions of your favorite sauces
- Salad seasonings (just shake it over the top like pepper)
- Make your own artisan chocolates
- Citrus fruit rinds to make powdered zest (or to blend in vinegar to make homemade cleaners)
- Make a base of elderberry syrup
- Make a mix for homemade fire cider
- Herbal blends
- Herb or spice powders, like garlic, jalapeno, ginger, turmeric, mustard, and onion powder
- Powdered versions of your favorite condiments
- Make your own vitamins
- Paint or dye mixes for artisan crafts or academic enrichment opportunities for kids
- Color or add aromatic properties to homemade soaps
- Organic makeup
Freeze-Dry Full Meals
- Muffin mixes
- Cake mixes
- Spaghetti sauce
- Omelets or Frittatas
In addition to using them in cooking, you may also use dried herbs to create homemade essential oils, hydrosols, tinctures, salves, astringents, infused oils, skincare, personal care products (including soaps), and anything else you feel compelled to make with dried herbs.
There is no limit to what you can do with dried herbs, fruits, and vegetables. The more time you spend using one, the more ideas will pop into your mind about more ways to use it.
4 Life-Changing Reasons You Need A Freeze Dryer
Freeze dryers can be life-changing when preparing food for future use, being an invaluable member of your community, and even seizing the opportunity to earn a supplemental (or full-time) income.
Preserving Food for Your Family Using A Freeze Dryer
“There just aren’t enough hours in the day.” Sound familiar?
If you have a large family (or even a small one), you probably find yourself regularly noticing there are far more things to do than there are hours in the day to accomplish it all.
Having a home freeze dryer can take some pressure off of cooking for a crowd. A freeze dryer allows you to double or triple recipes, cook once and preserve the rest for a few much-needed no-cook meals down the road (A very good self-care practice).
Using a freeze dryer also creates large batches of healthy snacks within a day. You can also use it to preserve leftovers from weeknight and holiday meals to reduce food waste and further stretch your kitchen time and budget.
When it comes to cooking for a large family, careful budgeting at the grocery store is usually an important part of the equation. Having a freeze dryer allows you to take advantage of bulk discounts and sales without worrying about food spoiling before using it all up.
Preserving Your Garden Harvest By Freeze Drying
Serious gardeners are often making plans to expand and improve this year’s crop. If you love to garden (or depend on one) whether outside, using a garden tower for small space gardening, or using a greenhouse to extend your growing season for fresh fruits and vegetables, having a home freeze dryer means you can plant as much as you can without worrying about wasting food to spoilage.
Harvesting more homegrown vegetables and fruits means better health and lower grocery bills for your family, and possibly also for your community. If you garden, a home freeze dryer can pay for itself in less than one year. Plus, if you have fruit trees, a freeze dryer will be even more valuable when you are preserving apples, peaches, berries, or even avocados to eat or turn into delicious baked goods anytime you want.
Implementing a Long-term Food Security Plan Using A Freeze Dryer
Freeze-dried food retains its taste and nutritional value, is shelf-stable, and has a shelf-life that can last up to 25 years, making it a perfect solution for building your emergency food supply.
There’s no better method for building a long-term food security plan than freeze-drying healthy food.
A large freeze dryer easily preserves 2,500 pounds of food per year (small freeze dryers will still enable you to preserve over 800 lbs each year). At that rate, you can quickly build a long-term food storage strategy by keeping leftovers, taking advantage of sales at the grocery store, preserving meat from a successful hunting season, and growing your fruits and vegetables.
Share Food with Your Community Members in Need
In an emergency, you may instinctively feel the call to help others. A freeze dryer allows you to preserve enough stored food for your family’s needs, plus a little extra you can use to help others if (or when) a need arises.
Whether your goal is to share food with those in need on a regular basis or you just want the ability to share food during an emergency, having a home freeze dryer makes it easier to preserve extra food to share with others. Because you can freeze dry entire meals, sharing healthy, nutritional food with those in need is simple and rewarding. Re-hydrating a meal only requires water, making it simple for volunteers or individuals to make a warm, healthy meal filled with love and more nutrients than would be available from typical prepackaged emergency foods.
A home freeze dryer also allows you to create healthy meals for senior citizens, homeless individuals, nursing mothers, or others in your community who need help getting access to nutritious food, whether temporarily or on a regular basis. Freeze-dried meals and snacks are easy to rehydrate, and can even allow senior citizens and those with disabilities to remain independent.
Sharing Freeze Drying Capabilities with Other Families
There are many ways you can share your freeze-dried foods with your neighbors, community, church, extended family members, and friends. You could even reduce the cost by sharing your freeze dryer with other families nearby.
With food shortages popping up worldwide, there is no shortage for need in every community for quality food at an affordable price (and even donations).
Create A Business Or Supplement Your Income
There is no shortage of ways to make money and have your needs met, even during rough economic times.
Anything you can freeze dry, you can also turn around and sell to members of your community. ** You will want to research your local business laws before you begin a business venture to ensure you know, understand, and abide by local licensing, food handling, sales, and tax laws.
Being able to freeze-dry foods provides you with the ability for long-term storage, which means being able to store more food for longer periods of time and having the extra ability to take your time selling different items instead of feeling rushed to sell food items from your garden before they spoil.
Turn Your Freeze-Dried Foods Into Crafting Opportunities
Using your freeze dryer to dry colorful fruits and veggies, and grinding them into a powder allows you to use them for a multitude of DIY projects. Adding a little water can even turn them into paint or dyes.
These crafting opportunities are great to network with someone in your community who spins yarn or thread to provide them with the means to create different colors. You could also use them as paints to teach children in the neighborhood about art.
Another idea to use dried fruits and veggies is to use them yourself for different hobbies or school supplies while homeschooling your children. You can even teach your kids entrepreneurial skills as they make crafts or other DIY products to sell.
What Foods May Be Freeze-Dried
You truly can freeze-dry nearly any food:
- Leaves (including salads)
- Soup base
- Broths and stocks
- Even ice cream or other dairies
A great way to start is by picking meals or items from your garden that are already favorites in your home.
Choosing The Right Size Freeze Dryer
My family LOVES the Harvest Right freeze dryer. They work great, have outstanding reviews, and are simple to use. The downside to using a freeze dryer is the initial cost (thankfully, Harvest Right does have a payment plan option).
The size you need largely depends on how much food you want to process at a time, the size of your family (or community you wish to support), and whether you’ll be using it to supplement your income or create your own business. The amount of space and the type of outlet you have available are other factors you shouldn’t ignore.
Your Freeze Dryer will need between 20 and 40 hours to complete the drying process, depending on the food you’re drying. Foods like meat, peas, and corn dry faster, while foods with more water content like squash and watermelon can take longer. The thickness of the slices you’re drying will also be a factor in the time.
If you want to process more at a time, you’ll want to make accommodations to purchase a larger unit.
Smaller Freeze-Dryer Option
Harvest Right’s smallest freeze dryer weighs 61 lbs and measures 16.5″ wide, 18.5″ deep, and 25″ high. It can be used on a tabletop or countertop fairly easily (keeping in mind there is a 32 lb. external pump).
The small freeze dryer can preserve 4-7 lbs. of fresh food per batch, meaning you can easily freeze dry roughly 840 lbs. of fresh food per year.
The small freeze dryer may draw 16 amps though the average is about 9 to 11 amps (990-1210 watts) of power per hour, so a dedicated 20 amp circuit is ideal.
Your freeze dryer will cost an estimated $1.25-$2.80 a day (if you’re running your freeze dryer every day), depending on power costs in your area.
Medium-Sized Freeze-Dryer Option
Harvest Right’s medium-sized residential freeze dryer weighs 112 lbs and measures 18″ wide, 21.5″ deep, and 28.5″ high. It can be used on a tabletop or countertop fairly easily (keeping in mind there is a 32 lb. external pump).
The small freeze dryer can preserve 7-10 lbs. of fresh food per batch, meaning you can easily freeze dry roughly 1,450 lbs. of fresh food per year.
Like the smaller option, the medium-sized freeze dryer may draw 16 amps though the average is about 9 to 11 amps (990-1210 watts) of power per hour. A dedicated 20 amp circuit is ideal.
Your freeze dryer will cost an estimated $1.25-$2.80 a day (if you’re running your freeze dryer every day), depending on power costs in your area.
Larger Residential Freeze-Dryer Option
Harvest Right’s large residential freeze dryer weighs 138 lbs and measures 20.25″ wide, 23.75″ deep, and 30.75″ high; plus needing space for a 32 lb. external pump.
The large residential freeze dryer can preserve 12-16 lbs. of fresh food per batch, meaning you can easily freeze dry roughly 2,500 lbs. of fresh food per year.
This large residential freeze dryer requires a 110-volt outlet. While it usually uses 10 amps (1500 watts), at its peak it may draw about 16 amps, requiring a dedicated 20 amp circuit.
This freeze dryer will likely cost an estimated $2.00-$3.00 a day (if you’re running it every day), depending on power costs in your area Freeze-Dryer Option.
Commercial Freeze-Dryer Options
There are a few commercial-grade freeze dryers that you can purchase, with or without having a pre-existing business. If you’re going to be drying foods, herbs, or other plant matter as a means of supplementing your income, assisting your neighborhood, or planning to create a business, you’ll want to invest in a larger option.
The commercial sizes are very similar to the residential sizes (within a couple of inches) but uses a more efficient vacuum pump.
A Note From Nicole
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Nicole is a military-trained research analyst, homeschooling mom, healthy lifestyle coach, flexible business consultant, and writer for MotherhoodTruth.com and GracefullyAbundant.com. After living through and overcoming a season of homelessness and chronic health, Nicole developed a passion for helping others develop healthier habits using functional nutrition, herbalism, and renewing faith.