My medium-sized freeze dryer arrived undamaged and on schedule. After an initial bread run to test the unit, I started preserving raw foods and precooked meals. Operating the unit is surprisingly easy. The provided documentation is excellent. My unit works flawlessly except when the room temperature exceeds 75 degrees or so. Higher temperatures slow the process down. So place yours in a temperature controlled room. I had concerns about noise, but the premiere pump is quieter than I expected.
I like to prepare meals using an Instant Pot. In my mind, a single serving of stew or chili is about 2 cups. A medium sized Harvest Right tray holds 5 cups of food. Or 6 cups of liquid, if you fill a tray to the brim, but don’t do that. In practical terms, 4 medium trays hold 20 cups—roughly two Instant Pot batches. You can mix different foods in your trays. Today for example, I am freeze drying trays of chicken and noodles, fruits, and potatoes. All of which I pre-froze to save time. Pre-freezing is optional, but you should not mix frozen and unfrozen food in your trays.
Tip: Try pre-freezing 2 cups of food in square brownie trays from a dollar store. If you spread the food evenly, it will match the height of a Harvest Right tray, sequestering one (2 cup) serving to bag up later. Each Harvest Right tray can hold 2 and 1/2 brownie trays worth of food. To completely fill all 4 Harvest Right trays, freeze food in 10 square brownie trays, and use a divider to equally divide 2 of your brownie trays. Remember, brownie trays don’t go into the freeze dryer...just their contents, which become pre-measured serving sizes.
I recommend weighing food before and after freeze drying. The difference tells you how much water may be needed to rehydrate. It’s a good idea to keep a written record of each batch, so that you’ll know when it is time to change oil in your vacuum pump.
In my first week, I put away meals to feed 2 persons for 7 days, along with fun stuff to snack on, such as grapes and salted tomato chips. I’m totally hooked on freeze dried tomato chips now. I can’t wait to try every possible fruit and veggie as a snack.
I am quite happy with my Harvest Right freeze dryer. To justify the expense, I plan to use it daily. This product is sturdy and well made. I have the expectation that it will provide many years of service, if I do my part to take care of it.
In these changing times, the cost and availability of food is a legitimate concern. Rather than purchase expensive commercially prepared meals, I opted to buy a Harvest Right, and make my own. I am glad that I did. I used to pressure can or dehydrate food to put away for a year or two. Freeze drying is easier than canning, and doesn’t cook foods. When packaged properly with an oxygen absorber, foods can last 20 to 25 years. Freeze drying provides a hedge against rising food prices, and long term food security at a reasonable cost. Overall, I am quite pleased with my purchase.