Freeze Dried Friday:

Welcome to Freeze Dried Friday on SurvivalBlog! We’ve been making so many things in the Harvest Right Freeze Dryer 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! Freeze Dried Tomato Meat Sauce is today’s feature.

Broken Pump Seal Update

I received the supply of spare parts I ordered including the spare vacuum cartridge. An interesting note is that I thought the bulk of the weight of the pump (aside from the motor) was in the casing. Nope. The vacuum cartridge is quite a bit heavier than the aluminum casing of the pump. When one of these cartridges breaks down and has to be replaced, I think I’m going to tear it apart just to see what’s inside. In the meantime, due to some other pressing concerns, I wasn’t able to rebuild the leaking pump, so we will put that off until next week.

Tomato Meat Sauce

This week was Tomato Meat Sauce week with 4 gallons of it being made and freeze dried. Mrs. Latimer’s recipe has large chunks of homemade beef sausage and fresh mushrooms in it and it’s made with tomatoes fresh from the garden. She makes the sauce a gallon at a time, cooking the tomatoes down to a thick sauce consistency with the spices and other goodies in it. One of the advantages of Freeze drying the product is that you can make soup, sauce, paste, spread or anything in-between by just controlling how much water you add when you reconstitute it. We typically cook it into a sauce consistency. I define this to be the point where when you ladle a spoon of it onto your pasta, there is no (or very little) water that spreads out on your plate, but the sauce doesn’t pile up.Freeze Dried Tomato Meat Sauce

One quart of sauce fills up one standard sized tray to approximately 1/2 inch. There are a few caveats though. Tomato based freeze dried products have a tendency to come out of the machine like weak concrete. The chunks are easy to break up, but the texture and consistency makes it difficult to get a complete finish in one standard cycle. I typically extend the final heat cycle by one or two hours when I start the machine up and when you check it, you may have to break it up and turn it over, running it for a couple more hours of finish time.


I prefer not to crush it into fine powder when I pack it in the Mason jar for vacuum sealing as I like the chunky texture. If you want a fine texture, just take a rolling pin to the freeze dried product and crush it thoroughly before packing it. The final product loses very little of it’s volume (unless you intentionally crush it very fine) and each finished tray will fit in one quart jar with a bit of gentle smooshing. We always write on the top of the jar lid with a sharpie, the product, date and any special instructions for reconstituting.

Fill the quart jar with hot water and you have one quart of tomato meat sauce. Fill it with one pint of hot water and you end up with a pint of tomato meat paste. Empty half of the jar into another and fill it with a quart of water and you get one quart of tomato meat soup. How easy is that?


  1. This week I FD 8 doz scramble eggs, 10 pds of link sausage and about 30 stuffed jalapeno peppers. Doesn’t sound like much but 4 trays fill up fast! I like my meat browned so it took a bit longer with the sausage. The peppers I had to core and remove the seeds and then stuff with grated cheese. I used a hand-held cylinder corer to do the peppers and it worked fairly well.

    I received my spare parts for my vac pump (thank you for the guidance on what to purchase). Some of the parts were back ordered so it took 3 weeks to get the order filled. Better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it! I purchased 4 gal of vac oil (with free shipping) to keep on hand. I find it faster to drain the oil and let it filter once or twice while putting new oil in the vac pump each time. When I’m satisfied with the filtered oil I collect it in a recycled vac oil container and eventually reuse it.

    When you get around to rebuilding the pump I’d appreciate a how-to article with pictures!

    Have a good and productive week!

  2. JWR, came across this on another site and found it to be quite interesting. After reading it, I checked supplies of flats at various stores, all are these new self destruct flats. Wonder where the old ones went and I wonder why there was no warning of the impending change? This is a broadside shot at preppers and food storage and there can only be one reason to remove from the market something that has worked so well for over a century!

    Spoiler Alert!

    It is Game On for food control. This is no conspiracy theory. I will
    address just one of the emerging threats to your food supply.

    I called Ball about their new 18-month seal jar policy. They are not
    interested in our opinions, but only the decree by the USDA, who is as
    crooked as a two dollar bill.

    [Redacted – this is off-topic]

    1. @grayfox114,
      I’ve seen the “original” article as well. There is no truth to this and it is fake news. The “expiration date” on Ball lids is nothing more than a self-imposed arbitrary date designed to give the manufacturer some legal indemnity from consumers who improperly can. The article also contains inaccurate, libelous, and false claims with absolutely no proof other than the posters statement. I’d put this in the same class as a chain letter.

      bluntly put – if you are “heat canning” of course you sterilize the lids. We do it all the time. For vacuum packing dry foods in a Mason jar, no sterilization is required because no bacteria can grow without moisture. We do run the lids through the dishwasher though just to clean them.

    1. Sadly, we do not. I’ve tried it, but was unable to get a yield that made it worthwhile. I suspect it is to dry and I don’t have the space to dedicate to a space that will facilitate them.

  3. It would be nice to hear from anyone growing Shitake mushrooms. I know they will grown on alder and I’m taking a few trees down. The ones the wife buys come from Pistol River on the Oregon Coast and our climate is similar.

  4. I’m new to freeze drying foods so I have to ask; why do you freeze dry your tomato sauce instead of just canning it via hot bath method? What is the value in the extra step?

    1. We actually can most of Mrs Latimer’s tomato sauce, but we always have some that we Freeze Dry. It’s actually better canned because the flavors blend well over time. However, when camping, you can’t beat the ease of Freeze Dried food. What can I say… I like to eat well even when “roughing” it. 🙂

      If car camping, we just bring the jar. If backpacking, I transfer it to a mylar bag when prepping the food for the trip.

  5. Thought I’d share this with you. There is a youtube video showing the installation of a main seal etc …
    Too involved for me , perhaps when I ” need to ” !
    also, is another source for accessories.
    Previously, when doing liquid product we would place a spacer under rear of HR freeze dryer to make all trays level, then simply pour in contents, freeze, and remove spacer prior to vacuuming. Worked great ! We did NOT fill the trays, but did achieve drying greater volume / batch

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