Letter Re: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer

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Hugh,

I am seriously contemplating purchasing the freeze dryer that you reviewed. While your review was very indepth, I still have a couple questions before purchasing. I know that when home canning you can’t can beans, can you freeze dry beans? Is this something that I could make a batch of chili and then pour out on the trays and freeze dry? Also, is there a guide of some sort to how much water you need to add back to freeze dried foods to rehydrate without making them soupy? Is it like one to one, or is there some sort of rule of thumb? Thanks, – T.C.

Hugh Replies: Who said you can’t can beans? We have been canning beans for years. My wife cans spicy beans (both pinto and black varieties), and they work well. The freeze dryer works best when the texture of your food items would be destroyed by canning, and canning works best when the flavors need to blend. We generally store the beans in their naturally dry condition but vacuum packed. She will cook a large batch and can the extra using a pressure canner– the All American 15qt. You can also freeze dry the cooked product, but you end up with a concrete-like substance. It reconstitutes very quickly, but you end up breaking the beans when you break it up.

When reconstituting, you have to take into account the effect of freezing the product. If it reconstitutes well (like green beans, corn, and most other things), you simply add the same amount of water you removed from it. If the product changes when you would normally freeze and then thaw it, you have to adjust accordingly. For instance, sour cream looses its “gel” when frozen and thawed. If you reconstitute it normally, you end up with a sour milk product. No matter how concentrated you make it, it will not re-gel. In this case, you are better off simply sprinkling the powdered product on the item you want it on for flavor. If it’s a baked potato, just add the powder to the potato and let the moisture work its magic. Cheese is another item that you may have difficulty with. We shred our cheese and simply use a misting water bottle to bring it back to life, so that it isn’t soggy with too much water.

In the end, you have to experiment with the foods and see what works for you.

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