How to Freeze Dry at Home

Did you ever wonder how to freeze dry your own food? It's a good idea to have some stored so that we can be prepared for natural disasters and supply chain issues.

how to freeze dry

Solving a Problem

What are we preparing for? There are a variety of scenarios. Long-term home food storage should include items that take some time to prepare as well as some items that are ready to eat immediately or with very simple preparation.

Yes, rice and beans can take a long time to soak and cook.

We do have some bags of those in storage and some canned vegetables, but what about meat? We can't count on the freezer working in a power outage. We can't count on being able to start a fire in a hurricane.

Freeze dried meat seemed like a good solution. The next problem was how to find quality freeze-dried meat that was non-GMO, grass-fed, and perhaps certified organic?

Our Home Freeze Dryer

We decided that the answer was to invest in our own home freeze dryer and to learn how to freeze dry. We chose a small model from Harvest Right.

We found the perfect place to install it in the basement with the freeze drying unit on top and the vacuum pump on a shelf below. We had an electrician install a dedicated outlet.

How to Freeze Dry

It's surprisingly easy to learn how to freeze dry your own food once you are set up with the right equipment. The rules are nothing too sugary or too greasy.

  1. Spread your food in the trays. (I only do cooked meat.)
  2. Place the trays inside the unit.
  3. Turn it on, close the door, and seal the drain valve. 
  4. Come back the next day to remove your food and seal it in a Mylar bag with an oxygen absorber. (50 of each are included when you purchase from Harvest Right)

To eat the food, just add some water and let it soak.

The freeze dryer does take some maintenance with changing the oil every couple of cycles. I like that it reminds me when it's time for an oil change. It only takes a few minutes, no big deal.

Freeze Dryer Recipes

I have only freeze dried meat because that's what is most important for us to store this way, especially with rising prices and growing shortages. I have two favorite recipes:

  • Ground turkey with onions and herbs
  • Ground beef with onions and a little tomato sauce with basil

I cook these for our family regularly, so now when I make them I do a double batch and freeze dry half.

freeze dried beefMy freeze dried ground beef and onions

We tasted the freeze dried meats after they had been stored for awhile by adding some hot water. It was almost like eating it freshly cooked, and it took less than 5 minutes from bag to table! There were a few dried spots, which means I didn't add enough water or let it sit long enough.

In the future, if we are in a situation where we can have a fire, I plan to heat up a box of bone broth and warm the meat in that so it will be thoroughly moistened. But it's nice to know that we could just add some cold water if that was all we had, and it would be ok to eat.

Freeze dried food can be stored safely for 25 years. Meats will contain traces of fats that go rancid sooner, so 10 years is a safer estimate. Still, wow, meat that stays good for 10 years?! We are very impressed with our freeze dryer and feel that our investment was a good decision.

Bonus Tips for How to Freeze Dry

If you're going to invest in a freeze drier, I also highly recommend a thermal imaging camera. It allows you to check that the meat or whatever you are freeze drying is completely done.

I got this model and have been very happy with it. We also use it to check house insulation and beehives.

To check that your batch is done, try to come right when the cycle completes. Open the door, and look at the food with the thermal camera. There should be no cold pockets inside the larger pieces.

More to Explore

food preservation
smoking food
dehydrating food
home canning

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