Harvest Right: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly – Part 2, by HJL

The Ugly

Yesterday, I talked about the changes that have been made to the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer in their new model that made it worthwhile to upgrade. We also reviewed some of the annoying things about the unit that make it difficult. Today, I’m going to review some of the “uglier” aspects of this unit. SurvivalBlog holds a high standard when it comes to product reviews. You’re going to get the bad with the good here. If you purchase this unit based upon our reviews, you’re going to know what to expect. I already covered the major changes that Harvest Right made to the new unit. These “uglier” aspects deal mostly with just owning and operating this type of device. Unless otherwise noted, it applies to both the older model and the newer model.

The Elephant In The Room – Price

Let’s get this out in the open right up front. Most people complain about the price on this machine. But it’s really a matter of perspective. Prior to Harvest Right, you had basically two options: 1) Make your own, or 2) Spend more than $10,000 (and usually closer to $30,000) for one of comparable capability. Is price really an issue then? If you purchase this unit at full Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Pricing, you will still be paying less than half of what any other freeze drying unit I’ve found costs. Sure, we want it all. I’d love to have the capabilities of this unit for the price of a good kitchen appliance. I don’t think that’s being very realistic.

New and Used

I’ve seen new units sell with everything for more than the MSRP of $4495. (I’m not sure why people would spend that much from shady outlets, but they obviously do.) I’ve also seen units sell at prices well under $2000 for the smaller unit. Harvest Right seems to be running sales very often. You can also pick used units up off of Ebay and Craig’s List. Your local newspaper want ads might have one too. I don’t see used units very often, because most people won’t turn loose of them once they get them though.

However, no matter how much you spend on one, it’s most likely going to have a hefty price tag. This is not a small purchase. Therefore, unless you have lots of disposable cash, you are probably going to have to plan this purchase. When I speak to those who complain over the price tag, it always seems to come down to “buyer’s envy” or “buyer’s remorse”. They either want one and can’t afford it, thus are badmouthing it, or they bought it on impulse. Occasionally, I find where a person had expectations that were different than reality. That brings us to the next “ugly”.

Not a Kitchen Appliance

This is not a kitchen appliance. It is a piece of industrial machinery that has been built as inexpensively as possible to make it more affordable for more people. I’ve had many conversations with Harvest Right over the last three years regarding this issue alone. It’s a simple technology, but it’s expensive to implement. In the first few years, Harvest Right emphasized this concept heavily. But they received unrelenting pressure from those purchasing the unit. No matter how many times the company said, “This is not a kitchen appliance”, it almost always fell on deaf ears. I’m guessing, based upon their new offerings in multiple colors, that they have succumbed to much of this pressure. People want it to match their other appliances, and no matter what you tell them, they seem to believe in their heart that it will be a kitchen appliance for them.

I can’t  state this enough. If you buy this unit and expect the ease of operation that you have with your normal kitchen appliances, you will be frustrated. A minimum amount of maintenance  must be regularly performed on this unit. While the basic operation of freeze drying food has been reduced to set-and-forget, the maintenance required to keep the unit operating is anything but that. If you treat it like a standard kitchen appliance, it will give you problems.

Toyota vs Lamborghini

For those of you who like cars, you can think of it like this: If you buy a Toyota truck, you can expect a high quality car that will give you reliable performance at a reasonable cost of ownership. That’s the kitchen appliance. But if you buy a Lamborghini LM002, you are going to pay a much higher price to obtain it and your monthly/yearly maintenance costs will be much more expensive compared to the Toyota. Of course you get a high performance machine, but if you bought the LM002 expecting the same operating cost of a Toyota, you are in for a rude awakening.

Industrial Automotive A/C pump

The vacuum pump is really the weakness of the system. Every part of the machine is very reliable and easy to maintain except the vacuum pump. Harvest Right did it right by separating this most problematic piece of equipment out from the rest of a very stable platform. This makes it easier to work with it. If you search on YouTube, you will find a plethora of modifications you can make to the vacuum pump that attempt to deal with the most problematic issues. Harvest Right does not support any of them! Some of them will actually void the warranty of the pump, and all of them introduce an additional point of failure to the system.

You can be as innovative as you want in attempting to solve your frustrations with this piece of the puzzle, and you might even be able to convince Harvest Right of the benefits of your particular solution. The company is open to improvements of their product, and they regularly incorporate changes to the system that make it better. Or you can just follow the manufacturer’s advice. Maintain the pump manually, accepting that it is the cost of operating the machine.

Fine Mist of Oil In Two-Foot Radius

This fine mist of oil is my second biggest complaint but the most persistent one. The newer unit with the larger vacuum line exacerbates the problem as well. When the pump first starts up to pull a vacuum, the chamber is at atmospheric pressure. For the first 30 seconds of operation, you can hear the load on the motor as it begins to remove all of that air. The motor roars, and you can audibly hear the atmosphere boiling inside the pump through the oil. After the initial 30 seconds or so of operation, most of the air has been removed and the motor begins to settle down, quieting in its operation and smoothing out.

During this time, you will see the door seat against the seal. But also during this massive movement of air, the vacuum pump literally breaths a fine mist of pump oil that you can visually see exiting the exhaust port. At first, I didn’t realize why this was happening and was very concerned that everything within a two-foot radius has a fine coating of oil on it. We were running the unit in the kitchen, where it coated the wall, the cabinets, the counter-top, and even the floor. Since we live in a fairly dusty environment, this immediately attracted dust and the area became filthy.

Oil level

Having the oil level correct will go a long way to helping the situation, but you will still get it.

Possible Solutions

I worked with Harvest Right quite extensively trying various fixes and modifications, attempting to cut down on this issue, but it was all to no avail. This is just a drawback of operating the unit. I can think of several ways that I could mediate the issue, but none of them are convenient:

  • I’ve considered running the exhaust port to the outside of the house, but that means the location of the unit is more permanent. This might work in the garage but not in the house.
  • I’ve considered a secondary diaphragm pump to remove the bulk of the air from the chamber, but that entails some exterior switching/timing mechanism along with automatic vacuum valves to switch between the pumps, and unless you already own the industrial/lab diaphragm pump, it adds considerable expense.
  • I’ve tried multiple designs of mufflers to allow the oil to settle out of the exhaust before exiting, but the size required to obtain satisfactory results is ungainly large.

Until a satisfactory solution is discovered, we’ve resorted to just making sure nothing is close in the disastrous two foot radius that can’t be easily wiped down after every vacuum start.

Rebuilding the Pump (Rust, Parts Available Online)

Since the pump was never designed to handle the moisture load that it does, there are several parts that you will have to replace on a regular basis. Primarily, there is an internal baffle plate that keeps oil from splattering out while you fill it (when it’s running) that is made of what appears to be cold rolled steel. It corrodes badly after about a year of use. The pump body is aluminum, and most hardware is either brass or stainless steel. So most of the pump really isn’t an issue. But you will either need to keep spares of this part on hand or replace it with a homemade aluminum plate. You do not want to operate the pump without this baffle in place!

All spare parts for the pump can be purchased online at Century Tool. Because you will have to eventually rebuild the pump, I recommend these parts always be in your spare parts bin (My machines use the JB Industries DV-200N pump. If your pump is different, check the part numbers):

  • PR-1 Sight Glass
  • PR-311 Cover Seal
  • PR-315 Intake Trap O-Ring
  • PR-40 Splash Guard & Screw (baffle)
  • RT201B NYLOG BLUE Gasket/Thread Sealant.

The sight glass is there because we run alot of herbs through the machine which really gunks up the oil and pump. I have broken the sight glass before while trying to clean it out. That is a show stopper if you don’t have a replacement, just like the gaskets are. Take a look at this oil after a series of batches of herbs. You can see how the oil is super contaminated from chlorophyll and the sight glass will have to be cleaned as well.nasty oil after a heavy batch of herbs

Blown Out Pump Seals

For reasons that I don’t really understand, both pumps have blown the main gasket multiple times. You discover this when you check the system and there is a puddle of oil surrounding the pump. It’s messy to clean up and frustrating. You definitely don’t want this pump anywhere near carpet.This is one issue that will make you want to cuss when it happens. If you don’t have spare gaskets on hand, you will be down until you get the parts. Changing the gasket out only takes about 15 minutes, but I can’t express how frustrating it is. This issue has to rank as my number one complaint.

Recommended Cleaning Operation is Very Messy

Harvest Right provides you with access to a video along with instructions to properly purge the pump. The process is messy and must be done manually. If you skip this, you will be prematurely dissasembling the pump to scrub it out. You may also destroy the vacuum cartridge, which is expensive to replace (about $120 as I write this).

Yes, it’s messy. Yes, it’s a pain in the neck. But you must do it regularly or you will regret it.

The Bold and The Beautiful

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Freeze Dried foods

Individual freeze dried foods – celery, mushrooms, carrots, chicken, and onions.

freeze dried herbs

Freeze dried herbs from the garden – French Tarragon, Rosemary, and Mrs Latimer’s special “herbes de Provence”

Chicken and Biscuits

Mrs Latimer’s “Chicken and Biscuits” made from freeze dried ingredients

Green beans, peas, corn, carrots, potatoes, okra, mushrooms, celery, broccoli, zucchini, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, milk, cheese, eggs, berries, herbs, sauces, meats, rice, pasta, meals, and much more get freeze-dried in our freeze dryer on a regular basis.

General Preparation Tips

  • Sliced or cubed apples, potatoes, and bananas will come out brown from exposure to air during the freezing process. You must first coat them in cool water combined with some anti-browning acid, such as Fruit Fresh, citric acid, or lemon juice; ice water with Fruit Fresh with chill the fruit and help speed the freezing process; bananas can come out of the freeze dryer looking perfectly white and almost as if fresh, if properly prepared.
  • Do not stack foods above the edges of the tray; good air flow is necessary above the trays
  • Dense foods must be cut into small pieces– meats should be cut into cubes or strips; potatoes into cubes or shredded and placed for air to circulate between pieces; carrots cubed or shredded; mushrooms sliced or cubed; blueberries, cranberries, and other encapsulated berries should have small holes poked in them (a meat tenderizer  easily does this work without tearing up the berries);

Meat and Dairy

  • Eggs should be whipped smoothly, though they can be separated and yolks freeze-dried separately from the egg whites.
  • Meats should be trimmed and liquid fat drained off.
  • Whole milk can be freeze-dried and reconstituted successfully; sour cream can be freeze dried but reconstitutes as a flavored liquid rather than thick cream, though it can be thickened with flour, corn starch, or arrow root, but it’s different; we love having access to freeze-dried whole milk that has stored well for years in vacuum sealed jars!
  • Grated cheese dries nicely in the freeze-drier and reconstitutes by soaking in water and then draining for pizza and recipes or you can just spray water over it on the moist dish in which it tops.


  • Herbs are stronger flavored when freeze-dried than in the dehydrator and work beautifully.
  • Cucumbers, zucchini, squash, and okra can be freeze-dried for use in various recipes, such as casseroles, soups/stews, or salad dressings.
  • Prepared brown rice in broth with small pieces of meat, vegetables, and sauce freeze-dried together make for quick, healthy, and easy on-the-go meals without the unhealthy preservatives found in store-bought equivalents; just a cup or so of boiling water, stir and cover, and let sit five to ten minutes and a delicious meal is ready to eat.

Eggs and Milk!

Whats that? You say you don’t have any food to run through it this week? Time for a run to the store to get a gallon of milk and some eggs. You will find that at times of heavy garden production, the machine can’t keep up with you. But there are times when the machine sits idle. If it’s idling, it’s not saving you money or paying for itself. Make sure you have some staples that you use on hand to run in the machine when there is nothing else!

Recommended Storage Medium

Harvest right provides you with Mylar bags and a sealer, but we prefer to use wide-mouth quart and half-gallon Mason jars along with a Tilla Food Saver lid adapter and a vacuum pump. Because of an ill-informed decision I made a number of years ago about canning food, I have a plethora of jars and I much prefer them to Mylar bags.

Cost Analysis

Let’s take a conservative view on costs and calculate what it might be worth to you. These are the costs that I incurred on the new model unit over the last year or are the current costs for the volumes of product that I used.

  • Initial cost of the machine: $2495 (standard machine on sale at Harvest Right)
  • 4 Gallons of oil: $86 (Robinair 13204 Premium Oil, Amazon Prime)
  • Food product: $300 (This represents purchased foods such as milk, but there were many more foods than what I purchased. Much of our garden produce went through the machine.)
  • Electricity $480 (This represents the $40 increase in our electric bill when the machine was running. On average, the machine ran about 80% of the time.)

The Total

That comes to a total of $3181 for the year’s operating costs. What is not included in this breakdown is the amount of labor that was put into the garden growing produce, the cost of chicken feed so we had eggs and other incidentals. It also does not have the cost of food included if you had to actually purchase all the food we ran through the machine. It’s hard to put an amount on that, but the hidden cost could be as high as perhaps another $3000-$4000 if you purchased everything that ran through it. This also does not included the savings of not having to run a freezer to store the foods or the electricity/gas that you might use to can the foods.

I already owned  Mason jars, but Mylar bags are not very expensive. If you use Mason jars, you may have a significant one time purchase cost. If you use Mylar, you will have a much smaller recurring cost. For the purposes of this calculation, I’m leaving those things out.

How much did I produce?

Over the course of the year, we produced 235 gallons of food product. Everything from whole milk, eggs, garden produce, meats and herbs. We produced such a variety that I cannot purchase an exact replica from a commercial company. A commercial freeze dried food offering will typically cost between $25 and $35 for a gallon of product (though some are much, much more depending on what the product is). Using this conservative number, I produced $5875 worth of food product at $25/gallon.

Did you catch that? In one year, I not only paid for the machine and operating costs of what I actually spent, but I could have completely paid for the costs had I purchased all of the food that I ran through the machine. Future years don’t include the cost of the machine, though they may include some incidental maintenance things like gaskets.

Taste, Texture, and Preference.

Not only did I produce food cheaper than buying it but I set the stage for actual savings in the following years. In addition, I put up foods that I actually like! I’ve eaten a lot of Mountain House Lasagna over the years along with other entries. I don’t like any of them, but they are edible. Now I have foods that I actually like and look forward to eating. We all ate freeze dried food on one particular campout. While my neighbors choked down the slurpy mess that passes for most entries, we ate Chicken Alfredo with large chunks of chicken and creamy Alfredo sauce. It looked and tasted like it was freshly made.

We even ate hamburgers that looked and tasted like they had just been grilled. Frankly, I’m almost surprised I made it out of that camping trip alive after seeing some of the coveting looks that were thrown our way.

Apples to Oranges comparison

To be fair, you really can’t compare costs as easily as this. Would you really spend nearly $6000 on a years worth of freeze dried foods? Probably not. If you didn’t own the machine, I doubt that you would actively purchase and use such foods in your normal pantry. But I think you get the point. The machine has the ability to radically alter how you store, prepare, and use foods. It’s like having that backup generator in your garage. Would you really use it when you can purchase electricity so cheaply from the utility company? But the piece of mind it brings is worth alot and you do actually use it to keep it in working order.

In reality, I doubt that most people produce enough food in the first year to pay for the machine, but I’ve been running one machine for almost four years now and it is still going strong. Even if you used it once a week, it would have easily paid for itself by now.

The Bottom Line: Is It Worth It?

To answer this question, you really need to make a determination on what your needs are. I see two major types of food prepping. There are those who believe in the “Food Vault System” of prepping and those who believe in the “Pantry System” of prepping. To know if the unit is a worthwhile purchase for you, you need to know how it fits into your prepping patterns.

Food Vault System

The hallmark of this system is long-term storage considerations. When people buy into this method, they purchase or make foods that will store for many years. They may not even  use them. The Mormon Home Storage Center tends to cater to this method. Foods are packaged, such as beans and wheat that can be stored for 20 or 30 years. The food will sit unused in storage until it is needed.

By default, freeze-dried foods tend to collectively fall in this category, because they easily have shelf lives the reach that 20 or 30 year mark. However, if this is your preferred method of prepping, the Harvest Right freeze dryer may not be for you. For what you would spend on the unit, you can easily purchase a year’s supply of long-term storage commercially made food. This is especially true if you purchase the foods on sale.

If you fall into this category of prepping, the only real reason you might want this machine is because of special dietary needs that can’t be met commercially or perhaps you just don’t like commercial offerings and you want to make your own. I do know many preppers that do precisely that. Mountain House Stroganoff is most likely not what your mother made and you may not like it all. I’ve never seen a commercially-produced freeze-dried lasagna that even resembled one that I got at an Italian restaurant. You can, however, easily make these things on your own with this machine.

Pantry System

This is where the Harvest Right shines. The typical mantra of this type of prepper is: “Eat what you store. Store what you eat.” The long-term shelf life isn’t as important, because this prepper constantly eats out of the pantry. You eat the older foods while new foods go to the back of the pantry. Their typical pantry system only has foods that are as old as the amount of food you have stored. If you have a three year pantry, then the oldest food is probably about three years old. The long shelf life of freeze-dried foods is irrelevant here (unless you have a couple of packages that get “lost” in the shuffle).

A prepper following this food system would constantly find themselves buying expensive freeze-dried foods and using them in their normal daily living. Most don’t even bother because of the expense. The Harvest Right machine allows this type of prepper to incorporate freeze-dried foods into their system. This has the effect of making their storage system much more robust. It will now survive loss of power (for the food freezers).

This is the method that we use, though we use a mixture of fresh, frozen, freeze dried, and canned foods. If you fall in this category and can deal with the maintenance headaches of the machine, you will be very happy with the purchase.

Is it worth it?

For my family, the answer is such a powerful “Yes!” that we own multiple units. For you, only you can decide. Hopefully, this review has given you enough information to make that decision.

The Future

We’ve accumulated enough data that there are a couple more articles on the way. These will focus on different maintenance and operation aspects of the machine. Over the next couple of months, I’ll assemble those into a few more articles to share with SurvivalBlog readers.


    1. A cotton sock as suggested by Harvest right seems to trap all the mist coming from mine.
      Never planned on using this in a grid down situation, only as a method of saving money NOW, in food storage, and not paying the freeze dried food stores. I also want to save meats that we have in a deep freeze that approaches the end of the time we want to store it frozen, but cannot consume. Looking forward to freeze drying the garden produce, and our fruit this fall. One of the most expensive things to buy is meats or cheeses, and we are well pleased.

  1. Hugh,
    Your article is definitely the Gold Standard for product reviews by fully describing both the good and the ugly. I especially liked how you differentiated between the two food storage approaches (vault vs. pantry) and clearly showed who will benefit from a food dehydrator. One question, in the event of long-term grid down scenario (EMP, CME, etc.) what do you recommend for a back-up plan if there is no grid power for your dehydrator?
    SG in Virginia

    1. @SGnVA,
      Most will probably use a combination of storage systems, but I broke them out separately for the description.
      In a grid down, the HR Freeze Dryer is probably not going to get used. It is a power hog and your cost would go up tremendously if you had to run it off of a generator. It would also take a huge solar system to run it. Wind would not give you the uninterrupted power you need. Even a combination of the above listed power systems would stress the normal house.
      I personally think the only reliable alt-power that would make this viable in a long-term grid down would be hydro. That shouldn’t keep you from obtaining one if you truly want it. It is viable right now and can produce a large amount of food.

  2. I enjoyed this article, but really want to know more about cost. You mentioned needing to do maintenance on the pump and recommended keep in the following on hand. But you didn’t mention them in your yearly costs.PR-1 Sight Glass
    PR-311 Cover Seal
    PR-315 Intake Trap O-Ring
    PR-40 Splash Guard & Screw (baffle)
    RT201B NYLOG BLUE Gasket/Thread Sealant.
    How much do you spend per year on these part?

    Also, I’m interested in time. How much time is spent on maintenance?
    How much time is spent on actually running the machine? Prepping the foods, putting them into the machine? Setting the controls? Removing and cleaning for the next batch? Putting the food in the Mason jars and sealing them? How does that compare with canning or freezing? (the time questions can be answered as one lump sum. I broke it down simply to include all the steps) Of course I realize the labor for growing remains the same whether eating fresh or processing.

    1. This is some of the information that will end up in another article in the near future. In the mean time, these costs are pretty insignificant compared to the purchase price of the unit.
      Also, if you are going to have a garden and process food, you will have a considerable amount of time invested in processing it one way or the other (canning, dehydrating, weeding, watering, et cetera).

  3. I mentioned this is my comment yesterday. Is this unit very expensive? Yes, for most average Joes who handle their modest incomes responsibly and who do not abuse consumer credit to feed there instant gratification impulse. Howevet, if obtaining a long-term self sufficient food storage source is a priority, it is certainly doable with some sacrifice. In my case, 2 surplus firearms that I acquired not from need but from love of the sport were sold to provide a substantial down payment, and the companies lay-away program took care of the rest over several months. Look around your home/shop. Do you need that 2nd TV in your bedroom? Or as in my case, is there a real reason to own the Remington 770 in BOTH .308 and 30-06? You get the idea.
    I agree with the statement that this is NOT a kitchen appliance. It’s a big, bulky, loud, and quite frankly ugly piece of machinery. My wife won’t allow it in her beautiful bastion of stainless steel and granite, so it runs in a corner of my shop, next to the welding station and the coffee pot. It is a fine product, and IMO, worth sacrificing to afford, but not worth going into debt for.

  4. Have you tried a dry vacuum pump? I’ve worked in the semi conductor industry for 30 years and we use dry pumps. I don’t know how they would work with something contaminated with food, but maybe you could put a filter between the chamber and the pump. Dry pumps as the name implies don’t use any oil, they have one part that needs to be replaced when it wears out and then a new gasket when you put it back together.
    You can find them on ebay, there are two Edwards dry pumps listed now for $675 used.
    Since the only issues appear to be related to the vacuum pump, I wonder if the company would sell the unit minus the vacuum pump?

  5. Just wondering if you could exhaust the oil mist through a water bath and alleviate the problem? run the exhaust into a quart jar, a 5 gallon bucket, you may need to experiment to get the best results. Maybe not use a water bath, but attach the exhaust hose into a 5 gallon bucket and cover the bucket with a damp cotton towel to remove the oil mist. You might need a couple of layers?

  6. I’ve been plodding along on an article about my solar system for SB, and I’ve done some research into freeze dryers using solar power. The bottom line is you could run the unit on solar power but only about 6 months a year, spring and summer when the days are long and clear. At todays lower prices that’s about a 12k investment in the solar system, but a 10 amp/hr draw is pretty easy to maintain.

  7. Oh, and I watched a YouTube video where the fella was completely draining the pump oil and running it through a filter to extend the oil life, have you tried that?

  8. We have two sets of trays. While one set is in the machine we prepare the next batch and place these trays in our chest freezer to pre-freeze before placing them in the machine. This does several things: by pre-freezing we can freeze/dry liquid items much easier, placing pre-frozen trays in the machine assists the machine in bringing the trays to the needed operating temperature, preparing the new batch while the first batch is processing allows a less frenzied start to the next batch.

    The oil in our machine used to look like the black oil in your picture. We used to drain, back flush and change our oil after each five batches. When we took the pump apart to clean it it was a real mess. Now we filter our oil after each batch and result in clean oil that we re-use. This is less costly and the pump does not get as dirty.

  9. The oily mist from the vacuum pump exhaust could be captured by placing a piece of cheesecloth, worn out towel, etc. loosely over the exhaust of the pump. You don”t want to restrict airflow. Just catch the oily mist. This should be good for several cycles. Once the cloth begins to get soaked, simply dispose of it properly if it can’t be cleaned. Proper disposal is necessary since oily cloths could lead to spontaneous combustion.

    The idea of having two sets of trays so one set can be prepared and frozen while the other set is processing is excellent.

    1. Already tried that one. The mist just blows right through the cloth. I’ve even tried socks loosely placed over the exhaust with the terry cloth side towards the pump. The issue is the sheer volume of air that is pumped in the first 30 seconds. It’s almost like an air compressor. The only way to capture it is to slow the velocity of the air down so that it can settle out. Lots of surface area helps too. The idea of pumping it into a 5 gallon bucket would work as long as there is some sort of loose filler in the bucket as well, but that takes up considerable room. Since a significant amount of sound comes from the exhaust port, it would also act like a sounding board and increase the noise level considerably.

  10. My father-in-law has a Harvest Right machine, and has to tinker with it and maintain it as the article points out. It is hardly a “set it and forget it” type of machine. Which makes me believe that the celebrities like Ron Paul and Glenn Beck pitching the machine on the radio may own the machine, but don’t actually use it. No way Glenn Beck or Ron Paul are doing the maintenance and repairs described in the two articles. My father-in-law? He is retired and has nothing better to do!

  11. I have a cup with a napkin at the exhaust port to prevent the oil problem.

    The vacuum pump is the only weak point. I love it otherwise – though it could use a few tweaks or more sensors for a one button cycle. If there were many people around me I could start a business to do the pump maintenance.

    Even to the point of swapping pumps (how do the Harbor Freight cheap pumps work?).

    But the results with various foods makes it worth it. I have some of those copper grill-toppers to try to deal with the ice that forms by putting them around the chamber – but I have to do the horrid pump maintenance first.

    Another detail is their big version is 220v.

    Apparently Nature’s abhorrence of a vacuum applies even here.

  12. I have been using one for 7 months now and love having the peace of mind to know that whatever happens food will not be a concern. It’s amazing how much food you can do and how fast you accumulate it. I did meats and main dish entrees during the winter and sides and vegetables in the summer. The bakery department at the grocery store saves the big icing buckets for me which gets picked up on a weekly basis. The main thing with the pump is to drain off the water as soon as you finish a batch. You can tell when you’ve gotten the water out by the change in consistency while draining.

  13. I read the original versions of these posts a year ago before I put a FD on layaway. Great stuff and I was thrilled to see you were updating them.

    After reading the two newest posts, I’m unsure if there is a third one to close it out in the wings or if you just decided to leave it with two. If there is a third installment in 2017, I can’t find it. Can you help a guy out with a link?

    1. There isn’t a third post this time – only two. However, we have a new weekly column called Freeze Dried Friday. Feel free to chime in on the comments with any questions or solutions you might have.

    1. @Debbie,

      It really sounds like the check valves on the vacuum cartridge have been damaged. They are not difficult to replace, but you’ll have to open the pump up to see if they are.

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