If you are on the fence about buying a new freeze dryer, read this extremely honest Harvest Right freeze dryer review.
It has officially been six months since we purchased our Harvest Right Freeze Dryer! During those six months, we have been freeze drying anything and everything we could get our hands on. We went on a store-bought candy kick, a casserole kick, a everything from the garden kick. If it could be freeze dried, we have done it!
We have found that it has come extremely handy to preserve our hen’s chicken eggs during egg season!
We tried to keep our home freeze dryer running as much as possible to help recover the cost. Because we buy a lot of our pantry staples in bulk this has saved us so much money! Learning how to store this said freeze dried food is a whole other topic, but getting it freeze dried and what we think about the machine itself deserves its own post.
We’ve tried to be as informative as possible for you to really have a good basis on whether or not this would be a good purchase for you. If you have any specific questions that were not covered, be sure to leave a comment below.
How the harvest right freeze dryer works
The first thing to know is to be aware that freeze drying is not the same as dehydrating. Dehydration shrinks foods and changes the texture, which of course is exactly what you want when making something like jerky. On the other hand, freeze dried foods retain their original size, shape and color.
It works by first freezing the food to about -40 degrees Fahrenheit, and then creating a powerful vacuum seal which vaporizes the ice crystals entirely and leaves you with a thoroughly dry, extremely shelf-stable food. Freeze-dried food keeps much more of its texture, nutrition, and taste than canned, dehydrated, or frozen food. Freeze-dried food can be eaten as-is, rehydrated, or saved for later. (Like 25 years later!)
How to freeze dry food
The Harvest Right freeze dryer is an incredibly intuitive machine and walks you through the entire process of how to use your new at home freeze dryer. Here is what to expect about the process:
- Push the start button to allow the chamber of the freeze dryer to cool down while you prep the food.
- Cut your food into roughly the same size. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but they need to be somewhat the same size to dry evenly.
- Arrange the food on the trays, being sure not to fill the food taller than the top of the tray.
- Make sure the valve is in the SHUT or CLOSED position before starting the freeze dryer. It should remind you on the screen to do this.
- Place the trays in the machine and close the door.
- Once it’s done, the machine will beep for you to check it. If it needs more dry time add more hours to the dry cycle.
- Once the food is completely dry, remove from the machine, open the valve and allow the freeze dryer to defrost.
- Package your food in jars, mylar bags, or freezer bags for short term use.
The process is really that simple!
What we LOVE about the harvest right freeze dryer
It is easy to use
Venturing into a new realm of food preservation can seem intimidating at first. Once this machine is set up, it is extremely user friendly. It walks you step by step on how to operate and what to do next.
Food is more nutritious
Unlike other food preservation methods, a home freeze dryer does not use high temperatures. This allows up to 97% of the nutrients in the food to be preserved! That point is hard to beat!
Freeze dried food lasts a long time
If freeze dried foods are properly packaged and stored, you can expect 20-25 years of shelf life from them. This is good news for homesteaders, preppers, or anyone looking to get ahead of the inflationary curve of the grocery bill.
A home freeze dryer reduces waste
Having a freeze dryer handy allows random leftovers to be processed and saved for later instead of pushed to the back of the refrigerator.
Freeze dried food tastes good
Most food taste exactly the same as when it is freshly cooked. It does have a different texture, but it is shocking how the original flavor is retained! Plus, there are all kinds of fun foods to try that taste even better when they have been run through the freeze dryer.
It is easy to get assistance
Harvest Right to be excellent to work with! They are extremely fast and professional throughout the buying and setting up process and were willing to help us with any questions we had. They also offer so many online resources. The Harvest Right website is full of information, recipes, and tutorials!
What we DON’T love about the harvest right freeze dryer
One of the cons of a home freeze dryer is that it makes a lot of noise. I wouldn’t suggest this machine be set up in your main living area. A garage, spare room, laundry room are more ideal. We keep ours in a separate processing kitchen away from where we spend the majority of our time.
It takes up a lot of space
This is a large home appliance. We do have the large size, but the small one would still take up a ton of space. Our large freeze dryer is almost the size of a small washing machine. That is without the space needed to keep the pump well ventilated.
It goes without saying that this machine is PRICEY!! We bought ours knowing that in the long run it would pay itself off. In the short term though…Ouch!
Cost of harvest right home freeze dryer
If you are in the market for a home freeze dryer it is no mystery that they aren’t cheap. To be honest, when we first saw the price tag we were shocked! Despite that, after seriously looking into this machine for years now, we determined it to be worth it. We would go as far to say that if you are serious about preparedness or food preservation, this is a GOOD INVESTMENT.
Let’s take the example of emergency food preparedness. If you are currently purchasing those freeze-dried food for emergency preparedness buckets, you are spending money for convenience of having it done for you. You also do not get to choose what goes in the buckets. Not to mention, if you freeze dry your own, you’ll eventually end up with more food for less money. If you purchase freeze dried food for any reason and eat it on a regular basis than you will come out ahead, because freeze dried food is so expensive to buy.
Once you own you own home freeze dryer, you can make endless amounts of freeze-dried food for now or in the future.
Harvest right freeze dryer FAQ
How Big is the Home Freeze Dryer?
It’s smaller than a dishwasher, but larger than a microwave. We have the large freeze dryer, but they come in small medium and large. Here are dimensions for all three:
- Large: 30.75H x 20.25W x 23.75L
- Medium: 28.5H x 18W x 21.25L
- Small: 25H x 16.5W x 18.5L
Keep in mind that a detachable vacuum pump that sits to the side of the machine and weighs about 30 pounds.
How much does a freeze dryer weigh?
Home freeze dryers are not designed to be moved around. Choose a location in your home or property, set it up and let it stay put! The Harvest Right Freeze dryer offers three sizes for the main body and therefore three separate weights:
- Large: 138 lbs.
- Medium: 112 lbs.
- Small: 61 lbs.
Keep in mind that this does not cover the detachable vacuum pump that sits to the side of the machine. These weights are for the main body only.
How much does the Harvest Right Pump Weigh?
The Harvest Right detachable vacuum pump weighs 35 lbs.
How Long Does It Take to Freeze Dry a Batch of Food?
It really on what you are freeze drying and how small the food is cut. Anywhere from about 20-40 hours is typical. Keep in mind, that while the machine is running you can do other things. Unlike canning, it is hands off once the freeze dryer has started–you don’t have to do anything or babysit it.
What Can You Freeze Dry?
You can freeze dry everything! It is probably more helpful to focus on what you cannot freeze dry. What you should avoid freeze-drying are straight fats (like butter or coconut oil– although you CAN freeze foods that contain fats.
It is delightful to experiment with different foods and meals in your freeze dryer. Try any foods in these categories:
How Do You Store Freeze Dried Food?
If you are using your food short term it can be stored in a mason jar with an oxygen absorber, or gallon freezer bag. If you are wanting to store freeze dried food long term, then you should use mylar bags with oxygen absorbers.
How Many Trays are in a Harvest Right freeze dryer?
Harvest Right Freeze Dryers come in three different sizes. They each have a different number of trays.
- Large: 5 trays
- Medium: 4 trays
- Small 3 trays
How to maintain a harvest right freeze dryer?
Besides following operating instructions and keeping your home freeze dryer clean, The biggest thing to consider about maintenance involves the pump. Most pumps require maintaining a proper oil level at the beginning of each cycle. If you fail to do this regular maintenance, your freeze dryer will not run properly. If maintaining a proper oil level sounds like too much trouble for you consider an oil-free pump.
Though the oil free pump has a huge advantage because they do not require maintenance. They come with a price tag. We chose to get the oil-less pump and it tacked on another $1500 to an already expensive item.
It is worth noting that in some cases oil-free pumps tend to wear out much faster than the regular pump. We haven’t experienced any problems, but are only six months in. If there are any issues, I will update this post with new information.
The takeaway is that an oil-free pump might save you a little time on maintenance, but you’re paying a huge extra price for something that MAY NOT hold up as well as the oil pump that comes standard on all three models.
Is the Harvest Right freeze dryer worth it?
The short answer is…yes! If you are a person who values food security and preservation, then having a home freeze dryer is not only worth it, but invaluable.
With this in mind, if you will not use the freeze dryer because you do not value creating nutrient rich shelf stable food for yourself, then it might not be worth it for you. “Worth it” is a relative term. For us, it was absolutely worth it!
Harvest Right freeze dryer review summary
It just cannot be disputed that freeze drying is one of the best methods of food preservation! It allows for the original nutrition of foods to be retained unlike dehydration which can destroy up to 50% of nutrients in some foods.
The home freeze dryer is perfect for anyone seriously involved in preparing for long term food storage or off-grid living. Some of the benefits of freeze drying your own food at home are:
- Create homemade convenience food
- Boosts health since ingredients can be a simple as fresh produce
- Saves money by bulk buying
- Boosts food security
- Allows the abundance of the garden to be preserved without high heat methods
If you have the resources and the space, the Harvest Right freeze dryer is worth the investment!
Here’s who might enjoy owning a Harvest Right freeze dryer:
- Off-grid residents
- Budget conscious
- Freeze Dried food lovers
If you still need more information visit the Harvest Right website for more information.
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