Freeze Dried Friday

Welcome to a new column on SurvivalBlog! We’ve been making so many things in the Harvest Right Freeze Drier that we want to share some of them with you. If you have something wonderful you’ve prepared in your freeze dryer that you would like to share with SurvivalBlog readers, take a photo of it and send it in along with a description. We might just feature you here!

A Halting Start

This week with the garden harvest starting to ramp up, the freeze dryers are getting ready for their workout. Freeze Dryer number one is back up and running after having the main seal blown. It only took about an hour to pull the pump apart, replace the seals, and get it fired back up. I’m not sure why I dreaded that job so much because it was easier than I remember the last time.

Lime Basil

First up this week was a batch of Mrs. Latimer’s Lime Basil. Four full trays compacted down to one quart of crushed herb. For the best use, Mrs. Latimer carefully breaks each fresh leaf off of the stems because the stems don’t crush very well. That took her a couple of hours to get four trays ready. They really weren’t full as the harvest is just now beginning to come off though. Some days, you just get what you get from the garden. With such a light load, we used a customized setting with about five hours of freeze time and short batch dry time. All told, it was just under 12 hours of processing time from start to finish.New Mexico Style Chili

New Mexican Style Red Chili Sauce

Next up was a gallon of Hugh’s Southwest Style Red Chili Sauce (no tomatoes are used). I picked up a taste for this years ago and just can’t give it up. We used to make this by the single batch (about a quart at a time) for a meal and then freeze the leftovers. It was a real pain to use them; we tended to do that only when making a full meal. With the freeze dryer, we make a gallon of sauce on the stove, let it cool to close to room temperature, and then load it up by pouring it directly into the stainless steel trays.

A gallon of water is close to the maximum capacity of the standard size freeze dryer. It generally takes about 9 hours to freeze all four trays. You can get a head start by having a spare set of trays and freezing the sauce in the trays ahead of time though. The dry-cycle of the machine was left on the standard time with the maximum tray temperature left at the default of 125 F. The total processing time turned out to be just shy of 36 hours including freeze time. (This does not include the cooking and cool down to room temperature.)

We like this method a lot better because now we can take just a couple of tablespoons of powder and mix up just enough for a single serving meal. It’s much more efficient in using the sauce, easier to store it, and easier to use. When making the sauce, it’s pretty much the same amount of labor whether you make a quart or a gallon, so this works out well. This works for others sauces also.


    1. @ron,
      You’ll know when it needs it because there is a puddle of oil under the pump. I knew it needed it and was still able to run it; I just had to keep an eye on the oil level in the pump and a paper towel under it to absorb the excess oil.
      My second pump also needs it, but I’m waiting on parts. As soon as the parts come in, I’ll create an article on rebuilding that pump.

  1. Thanks for the article I like the idea for Freeze dried Fridays. We have been debating purchasing the freeze dryer but have not at this point.
    I did a quick search for Hugh’s red sauce, but came up empty. Can you provide a link to recipe?

    1. There really isn’t a recipe for Hugh’s New Mexican style red chili sauce. It’s one of those things where you start with a basic red chili puree and add a little of this and a little of that until you get the flavor and consistency you like. I have a tendency to open up Mrs Latimer’s spice cabinet and smell/add whatever strikes my fancy.

      You can start with this recipe which is very similar to what I start with.

  2. I love the idea of Freeze-Dried Fridays! Right now I have 4 trays of hamburger going thru the last of the dry cycle. I extended the dry time because I packed the trays pretty tightly. The four trays hold about 8 pds of 93/7% lean hamburger, which I browned and drained prior to loading. When done, the FD hamburger should fit in 2 quart canning jars.

    Have a great week!

    1. @Jerry,
      The flavor is identical. The texture tends to be a bit grainy unless you work it over well with whisk or fork. Mrs Latimer has a small Magic Bullet that she makes two servings in and you can’t tell it from fresh. A bit more cleanup than just whisking in a cup, but a whole lot easier. If you don’t want to go through trouble of the small blender, using hot water and making it about 30 minutes ahead of time does the same.

  3. Probably the best move you have made is this new column. My fiance and I have a large, stainless steel model on layaway with Harvest Right, and at the risk of sounding crass, it’s sort of like expecting a new child! I ordered the system from them a few months ago, and after the initial payment noticed an ad in my email for $800 off the same unit we had put on layaway; Scott at Harvest Right applied the discount retroactively!

    Please accept our thanks and we look forward to more ‘Freeze Dry Fridays’!

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