Freeze Drying

Bacash

Just a guy
Brass Subscriber
#1
Having recently made the jump in to a freeze dryer, and knowing there’s both a couple others here with them, and several here thinking about them, I thought I’d start a thread detailing my experience. That will give me a chance to learn from the experienced ones, and people thinking about it to follow from the beginning.

First, my buying experience. I ordered a medium black freeze dryer with oil free pump direct from Harvest Right on 4 May for $4493.78 with tax ($4190 just machine) and was quoted 10-12 weeks for delivery at order.
I got notice on 14 May that a shipping label had been created, and it was delivered on 22 May, exactly 3 weeks from when I ordered! It was delivered by FedEx freight on a semi, so if you’ve got a long or hard to navigate driveway, you may need a way to get it from the road to your house. FedEx shipment details said it weighed 235lb, and it was banded in two boxes onto a pallet. Harvest Right requires you unbox and inspect at delivery, or they won’t accept any shipping damage claims.
Ours arrived with no damage, but with one issue... They sent the wrong color. Our kitchen appliances are black and, not being 100% sure where we were going to keep it, we ordered black so that it matched. I called the sales guy and he gave the option of getting a replacement sent out (ETA unknown) or taking a store credit and keeping the white. We opted to keep the white so that we could start using it and they agreed to give me the things I asked for, which came out to a little bit over $250 worth of stuff. We got and extra set of trays for pre-freezing, silicon mats for both sets of trays to make clean up easier, and to sets of Mylar and O2 absorbers.
First impressions were that it’s well made, but larger than the dimensions sound, and the weight/size combo make it too big for one person to move. It was very easy to assemble with only two compression fittings for the vacuum hose and one push on vinyl hose for drainage. Took about 3 minutes to assemble.
We decided to put it in a room that’s my “office” but has also been used to start chicks (good Lord, never again) and to start seeds. We needed a sturdy base to set the machine on, we we refinished a 100 year old oak dresser to use to set the machine on, figuring the drawers would be handy for storing Mylar, extra trays, etc.
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We’re getting ready to run our first batch today, doing blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and mangoes.
Love to hear the guys that have had these for a while chime in with tips and tricks learned from experience!
 

HandLoad

Mourning for America
Brass Subscriber
#3
Casting things in Lucite? Use the Vacuum Chamber to pull out bubbles.

Casting things in epoxy, plaster, etc? Same as above!

Wanna store Flour or other things that usually go bad/rancid with (not enough) time? Use the Vacuum chamber! No OXYGEN, NO OXIDATION!

There is a feller on utub that dos lotsa articles purporting to help you decide what works...goes by something like "retired at 40"...some of his advice/results do not comport w/our experiences.

Try stuff!
 
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HandLoad

Mourning for America
Brass Subscriber
#4
Blueberries will not come out as quickly as the others. Same with Cherry halves. Grind'em up, THEN dry the slurry.

If Ya cook em, then run em through a ricer to make whole berry paste/slurry, and run that as a separate batch, ya will have more successful drying.

We love taking Blackberries, or Blueberries to crunchy solid after drying, then pulverize into dust. Then. Ya can bake muffins and swirl in equivalent of a Half Pint of the Fruit Flavor into EACH Muffin! BAMM! ANOTHER NOTCH! Same with Ice Cream!
 
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HandLoad

Mourning for America
Brass Subscriber
#6
We Honey and Lemon juice dip Banana Slicces and freeze-dry! FANTASTIC! Just be sure not to have things too goopy, and for these sort of loads, YA GOTTA HAVE THE TRAYS DEAD LEVEL.

Banana is so easily sliced uniformly (an important thing to do on EVERYTHING You process, so they all come out equally dry) using a MUSUBI/SPAM slicer - Looks like a hard-boiled egg slicer - piano wires hinged. Use on Strawberries and other soft things (Hot Dogs, etc.
 
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HandLoad

Mourning for America
Brass Subscriber
#8
We cook/fry up Hamburger and Meatloaf before Freeze-Drying. Seasoned (TACO or Italian) Hamburger Crumbles are so very handy, divisible, and fun to use in cooking.

Do not TOP your Meatloaf with Ketchup! It turns into a gooey, sticky Leather! Just mix it in, or add after reconstituting.

Lasagna is a GREAT load! We buy the monster trays at COSTCO. Cook, then cool completely in refrigerator. THEN Slice to be just a teeny bit taller than tray sides when laying each slice on its side (on parchment paper is best - then no silicone pads to clean, and they don't get stained)
 

Bacash

Just a guy
Brass Subscriber
#12
So our first batch was actually some slices of bread, as suggested by the owners manual for the first run. They say it to “absorb the new car smell.” Yea, really. It actually did absorb the slight chemical odor that was inside the machine. Bread came out as dry as a popcorn fart, and tasted like... bread...

There are 4 trays of prefrozen fruit in there right now!

We ended up putting a window AC unit in that room to keep it cool to reduce batch times. The machine was actually displaying a message along the lines of “room is hot, May slow processing time and damage machine.” Room temp was about 81.
 

john 1775

Gotta have pics and links.
Brass Subscriber
#14
Having recently made the jump in to a freeze dryer, and knowing there’s both a couple others here with them, and several here thinking about them, I thought I’d start a thread detailing my experience. That will give me a chance to learn from the experienced ones, and people thinking about it to follow from the beginning.

First, my buying experience. I ordered a medium black freeze dryer with oil free pump direct from Harvest Right on 4 May for $4493.78 with tax ($4190 just machine) and was quoted 10-12 weeks for delivery at order.
I got notice on 14 May that a shipping label had been created, and it was delivered on 22 May, exactly 3 weeks from when I ordered! It was delivered by FedEx freight on a semi, so if you’ve got a long or hard to navigate driveway, you may need a way to get it from the road to your house. FedEx shipment details said it weighed 235lb, and it was banded in two boxes onto a pallet. Harvest Right requires you unbox and inspect at delivery, or they won’t accept any shipping damage claims.
Ours arrived with no damage, but with one issue... They sent the wrong color. Our kitchen appliances are black and, not being 100% sure where we were going to keep it, we ordered black so that it matched. I called the sales guy and he gave the option of getting a replacement sent out (ETA unknown) or taking a store credit and keeping the white. We opted to keep the white so that we could start using it and they agreed to give me the things I asked for, which came out to a little bit over $250 worth of stuff. We got and extra set of trays for pre-freezing, silicon mats for both sets of trays to make clean up easier, and to sets of Mylar and O2 absorbers.
First impressions were that it’s well made, but larger than the dimensions sound, and the weight/size combo make it too big for one person to move. It was very easy to assemble with only two compression fittings for the vacuum hose and one push on vinyl hose for drainage. Took about 3 minutes to assemble.
We decided to put it in a room that’s my “office” but has also been used to start chicks (good Lord, never again) and to start seeds. We needed a sturdy base to set the machine on, we we refinished a 100 year old oak dresser to use to set the machine on, figuring the drawers would be handy for storing Mylar, extra trays, etc.
View attachment 35122
View attachment 35123
We’re getting ready to run our first batch today, doing blueberries, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, and mangoes.
Love to hear the guys that have had these for a while chime in with tips and tricks learned from experience!
Nice
 

Bacash

Just a guy
Brass Subscriber
#17
Ran out batch of fruit yesterday, took right about 20 hours.

Had blueberries on two different trays, one was pile a little higher than the other. The one piled higher had some blueberries not dry completely, everything else seemed perfect. The mango was extremely good. Lesson learned about spreading thinner.

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