Product Review: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer, by HJL – Part 3

Note from the Manufacture

Harvest Right has been very responsive to their customers feedback and, in fact, responded to the first two parts of this article with the following letter:

Thank you for using the freeze dryer, and thank you for your article. Because of your thoughts, we have made the following modifications to our unit:

  1. We have changed the riveting of the tray holder assembly. It is now quite stable.
  2. We extended the length of the drain tube.
  3. We are also using shrink-wrapped solder connections instead of electrical tape. It is much faster and looks better. (We don’t know why we weren’t doing that before.)
  4. In terms of the vacuum pump and the hard shut down that you were worried about, we have been told that is a concern with high CFM pumps but not with the low CFM pump we use. In two years of using this pump and with all of our sales (as far as we know), no one has ever seen the pump stall before running due to oil being sucked back into the cartridge. The JB pumps we use are remarkable. We have tried 20 different pumps and are extremely happy with the durability and reliability of the pump. – Dan

In short, they answered all of my concerns and fixed three of them in their manufacturing process within two weeks. Now that’s what I call responsive! The fourth item, as they describe, is apparently not a real issue on the small vacuum pumps and is easy to mitigate if you spend a few moments managing the system.

Feedback

As there has been a delay between the publication of the first two parts of this article and Part 3, SurvivalBlog received some feedback from its readers that should be addressed. One of the most common complaints heard was that at a starting price of $3899, this is not a cheap machine. The readers are right in that regard but compared to the alternatives, which list at over $10,000 at the time of this writing, this machine is the best deal out there for what it does. Just like a fine Springfield M1-A1 or a good BOV, this purchase will require some forethought on the part of the purchaser. If you are satisfied with the mushy vegetables of canning and are certain of your year-round supply of dairy, this may not be the route you should go. Certainly, if you are just starting out prepping, you probably need to look elsewhere. The target audience for this machine is going to be those who have the first few rounds of priorities in prepping taken care of and are looking at deep, high-quality larder options.

Of course, as we explored in Part 2 of the article, by the time you calculate in the base cost of purchasing that second freezer along with the electricity required to run it, this freeze dryer starts becoming attractive. Especially if you consider the loss of food incurred from a freezer failure.

Another option is for several families to split the cost of the unit and share it. The unit will easily produce approximately one gallon of food every 24 hours. If you live by the mantra “store what you eat; eat what you store”, then you simply look at how much freeze-dried food your family can consume within that same 24 hour period. You will supplement it with fresh foods when they are available in season, so it is not unreasonable to see a single unit capable of supporting 10-12 people when no other foods are available and easily 20-30 people during harvesting season. I believe that I could share this unit with 3 or 4 families similar to mine, bringing the cost to 1/4 of the original.

Tips and Tricks for Better Performance

Mechanical Setup – The first decision you are going to have to make (after the purchase decision) is where to place the unit. While the unit is built robustly with off-the-shelf parts, it was built with efficiency of operation in mind rather than sound. We have grown spoiled by the sound insulation and design of kitchen appliances in today’s world. As a child, I remember our first dishwasher, where you had to leave the kitchen to have a conversation without raising your voice when it was running. This unit is like that. The refrigeration system is heavy duty and produces a noticeable hum that I equate to the sound of a running water faucet. With my middle-age hearing loss, that sound is right in the frequency range of the normal conversation of women, making it hard for me to hear them. (My wife calls it selective hearing, though.) The vacuum pump is a different story. It is a one horsepower motor running what sounds like gears in oil. There is no way to make that quiet. Part of the way the cost is held down is by making the vacuum pump a stand-alone module in the unit, so there is no sound barrier at all. When the vacuum pump is running, no one can have a normal conversation standing next to it. Given that I have the unit on the kitchen counter for this review, that means that the family has taken to eating in the living room, due to the inability to converse during meal times. If we have company over, I have to plan carefully so that the unit is not running during their visit. Additionally, if you have a headache, you won’t want to be near the machine.

Given those issues, the kitchen may not be the best place for operation. However, the kitchen is where you generally prepare food, so you will need it within a comfortable distance. For us, when the review is done, the unit will be relegated to my shop (where the food freezers are, anyway). The walk from the kitchen to the unit is no different than walking to the food storage area for us. You may want to look at placing it in a walk-in food pantry if you have one available that has a solid door (to keep out the noise), gets air conditioning (since this thing puts out a good amount of heat), and is close to the kitchen (for carrying prepared food trays). Even the garage would work, as most attached garages have access to the house near the kitchen. In any case, you will need a counter-height stand to put it on for comfortable use. I might actually look into purchasing a counter-height cart on wheels for it so I can store it out of the way when it’s not in use and then move it where I need it when using it.

The particular location where we live is rather dusty (to the chagrin of my wife). If you have the same conditions, you will need to access the sides of the unit at least once a month. The condenser for the refrigeration is on the right side and has a fan to pull air through the system. After only a month of operation, I noticed considerable dust build up on the heat transfer fins– enough that the air flow was being partially obstructed. You will need to remove the right side panel and use a vacuum hose from your house vacuum, with the soft brush attachment, to clean that dust accumulation off. Because of the dust situation here, I plan on doing this every two weeks of operation. Your maintenance schedule may vary depending on how much dust you deal with. It might be a good idea to cover it when it’s not in use, to help keep dust out of the machinery.

Next, make sure you have the unit level. I made the mistake of leveling the unit by the case. Unfortunately, the chamber may not be perfectly parallel to the case. In this unit, the chamber had slightly less than a 1/4” slant towards the front of the unit. I didn’t notice that until the first defrost cycle, when the melted ice mostly ran out the front of the unit onto the counter and floor, rather than through the drain in the rear. You want only a slight slant toward the rear to encourage proper drain function. The manual states a 1/4” drop towards the rear, which works fine for normal foods. If you plan on working with liquids though, that is too much slant. With less slant, you may have trouble with water draining through the door as well because of small ice dams on the bottom of the unit. I chose to level the unit flat and defrost with the door closed to keep water from draining out. If I have to open the door before the small ice dams have melted, I have to grab the unit and lift the front slightly to force the drain first. It also helps to have a towel or something in front of the unit to catch water drips when you do open the door. I found a small plastic level designed to hang on a string at the hardware store that works really well. I just keep it on the top of the unit (no string necessary), and it is available for whenever I need it– mostly for leveling the food tray rotation within the chamber when dealing with liquid foods.

Also, as tempting as it is to leave the insulating plug/pad out of the unit so you can observe the food, DON’T do it. The chamber temperature floats around -20F, and the humidity will simply condense on the outside of the door making a real mess to clean up– similar to having it defrost and drain out the front.

Operation – These are things that you can do to help the unit operate more efficiently. Remember that they are not necessary. You can stay within the bounds of what the manufacture says and simply load the food, push the button, and let the machine do its thing, and you will successfully freeze dry food. These are simply things and operations that I used to help the machine operate more efficiently. As you use the machine, you cannot refrain from sampling its product when it comes out, and you will learn most of these yourself just by operating it.

  1. Shutting the Vacuum Pump Down. Even though the manufacture assures me that the cold start-stop of the vacuum pump is not harmful to the small CFM pumps, I still don’t like it. I use this procedure when I can to alleviate the issue. When monitoring the system, if you determine that the unit is nearly finished, either by the timer or by the vacuum, simply walk to the back of the machine, on the vacuum pump itself, turn the isolation valve to off, and open the gas ballast valve. You will hear the vacuum pump start to work harder, as it can now breath and is pulling room air through the cartridge. Walk to the front of the machine, and turn the switch off, shutting the system down. Relieve the vacuum in the chamber by opening the drain. You can now close the gas ballast valve and re-open the isolation valve to reset the motor. That’s all there is to it. Automating that would probably add several hundred dollars to the cost of the machine, so I agree with their decision to not do it. The motor most likely will not be damaged if you do not perform this step, but, having experience with vacuum pumps, I prefer to do it.
  2. Always Sample the Food When Done. Occasionally, especially if you are just letting the machine run, the food isn’t really done. The food should be warm from the heating elements and completely dry. If you pop a piece in your mouth and find that the center is cool, or worse, still frozen, you know it isn’t done yet. Restart the machine per the next step quickly. Most foods are actually quite enjoyable when freeze-dried, but there are those that are not. Meat, in particular, is very hard to eat. You may need to keep a glass of water handy when you eat freeze-dried meat, as it zaps the saliva out of your mouth in a hurry.
  3. Restarting the Unit. Every once in a while, you have to restart the unit, because the food wasn’t done or you had to shut the unit down to do something, like change the pump oil. To restart quickly, simply close the unit back up (making sure the drain is closed as well) and turn the unit on. Using the side knobs, turn the drying time to the desired time, then rotate the cooling time to zero. The vacuum pump will kick on, and the unit will resume the freeze drying process. You have to make sure that you set the drying time first, as the timer will reset to the time displayed every time the heating unit cycles. If the unit goes into drying mode and then you set the timer, the timer will reset to the original time if the heating element cycles.
  4. High Liquid Foods. Occasionally, you may freeze dry foods that have a high liquid content. After a month of use, I determined that the max amount of water extracted is approximately 3/4 to 1 gallon. Certainly, in this category, you would include liquid foods, such as raw eggs and milk, but also peas, corn, green beans, and most fruits. If the unit has run for 30 hours or more and is still not done, you have reached this maximum amount of extraction. The extracted water refreezes on the wall of the chamber, and if too much builds up, the heating elements for the trays simply remelt it, causing an endless cycle. Shut the unit down, using the procedures above, take the trays out, and place them in your freezer to hold them. Defrost the unit, place the trays (that have been kept frozen in your freezer) back into the freeze dryer, and restart the unit. It is important to not let the trays defrost. If they have reached the point where they are mostly warm, let the unit cool them back down for a couple of hours before starting the drying process. I tend to perform this step at the 24 hour mark.
  5. Defrosting the Chamber. The chamber has a defrost mode, but it is really gentle. If you have the time, just let it work. If you are hurried, because you’re working with high liquid foods or you need to be someplace, you can speed things up by using a hair dryer. You just use a hair dryer to blow warm (not hot) air, as if defrosting a non-self-defrosting freezer. Be careful that you do not let the chamber wall temperature get too high, as you can damage the insulation. You will usually need to defrost with the food tray carrier in place, as the ice forms around it and locks it in place. If you have the chamber relatively level, as I do, know that you will have issues with water running out the front, because of the ice dams near the drain. Either tilt the unit back or place a towel in front to catch the water.
  6. Working with Trays. I used both the aluminum trays and the stainless steel ones. The aluminum trays are stiffer and lighter, but I don’t like aluminum touching my food. Nearly everything will stick slightly to the trays, but parchment paper works really well as a separator– even with liquids. With most foods, the food will not stick to the parchment, and if there is no obvious staining or strong odor, you can reuse the same parchment. Costco sells large rolls (205 square feet) of 15” wide paper. You can simply cut a sheet 18” long and split it in half lengthwise. You end up with a sheet that just fits in the bottom with about 1/4” up the sides of the tray. Press to fit it in the tray, then add the food. For liquids, like milk or raw eggs, I use the stainless steel trays. The product does stick to the trays but rinses off easily in hot water.
  7. Trays Filled with Liquid. It doesn’t matter how steady you are, you cannot fill a tray with a liquid, like scrambled raw eggs, and then move it from the counter to the dehydrator without spilling some. Harvest Right’s suggestion was to use ice cube trays, but I ended up with a product that is thicker than 1/2”, and it makes a difference in processing time. A tray filled with 1/2” of liquid product will take about 30 hours to complete (assuming four similar trays in the unit). The same trays filled with the same amount of product, but in the form of ice cubes, takes nearly 48 hours to finish; even then you may have problems. After 48 hours of processing, milk cubes (in ice cube trays) still were not finished, and I had to crush them in the tray to get the batch completed. It’s much simpler to just pour milk into the tray. The trick is to level the tray holder in the unit and place the empty trays on their shelves. Then pull the tray out just enough to pour the product directly into the tray– pulling the tray about four inches to the front will generally do it. Be careful not to pull too much because the front of the tray is heavier than the back during the pouring and you don’t want the tray to tip. Milk was especially easy this way as each tray held one quart of milk. When freeze-dried, the same tray would just fit in a one quart mason jar, which was sealed with the jar attachment of the Tilla Food Saver. Voila! All you have to do is add water for 1 quart of milk! Eggs are also similar. There is very little shrinkage; two coffee scoops (tablespoons) of raw egg product equals one egg. Just be sure that if you are freeze-drying raw eggs, you blend them well before freeze-drying and afterward label them “RAW”. Bacteria may still be present. The freeze-dried raw eggs can then be reconstituted for use in recipes for cakes, muffins, pancakes, and such or reconstituted to cook as scrambled eggs.
  8. Keep the Food Frozen. The default time on the machine is nine hours for freezing. It is also tempting to just place the trays on the counter when resetting the unit from a high-liquid batch, especially if the trays feel warm. You must avoid this temptation. Even if you are pre-freezing your food, you must allow some time for the refrigeration of the unit to cool the food down. At room temperature (72F), water boils at 20,320mTorr of pressure (0.393 lb/sqin). Even at 0F (the temperature of a really cold freezer), water boils at about 1000mTorr of pressure. This means that even if you have pre-frozen your food, but especially if your food is closer to room temperature, the water will vaporize way too fast for the freezer to condense and refreeze it to the side of the chamber. All water vapor not condensed out on the wall of the chamber will go straight through the vacuum pump and the oil will pick some of it up, thus contaminating it.

    At $22/gal, you want the oil to last as long as possible; just one batch of too much water vapor can destroy the usefulness of the oil, forcing you to change it. The solution is to always let the freezer have some time to cool the food down to the operating temperature (~-20F) before allowing the vacuum pump to kick on. If you are filling the trays with a liquid, like eggs or milk, even nine hours may be questionable. On those foods, you should open the unit at about the 8.5 hour mark and check the food. I have often found that the sugar in the milk will keep it from completely freezing until about 10 or 11 hours into the cooling cycle. Eggs tend to be right at nine hours, but I will usually give them 10 hours of cooling. If you are pre-freezing your food to cut down the freezing time, leave a few hours of cooling to bring the temperature all the way down.

  9. Changing the Oil. Whether you destroyed your oil by running unfrozen liquid through it or through the normal use of the oil (in about a week of full-time operation), you will eventually need to change the oil in the vacuum pump. Changing the oil is a snap and easily accomplished. The instructions on the pump are complete. You will need to dispose of the oil, but I do not recommend sending it down the drain. Treat it as you would used motor oil. There are two methods of managing the oil, and they both give you about the same life. The first method is to just run the oil until the machine has trouble pulling a full vacuum below 800mTorr, shut the system down, and do a complete oil change. The second method is to open the drain cock and draw off a couple of ounces of oil each time you load the unit with product. Replace the oil drawn off with fresh oil through the filler. This procedure should be done after the defrost cycle, so that the water in the oil has a chance to separate out and settle to the bottom. When you drain the oil, you will drain most of the water off as well. Both methods will use roughly a quart of oil every week. The advantage of the gradual change is that you have consistent performance from the pump. With the batch method of changing the oil, you will tend to have poorer performance the closer you get to the time you have to change the oil. Even with the gradual method, you may still have to do a complete oil change on occasion, due to other contaminates. When the pump first starts up, you will smell the oil as it freely moves the available air through the pump, and you will be able to smell the contaminates. If it is foul smelling, change the oil. You should also look at the oil through the sight glass. In addition to checking the level of the oil, check the color. If it looks foul and green, change it. It should be clear when you first start it, and it turns cloudy as it picks up moisture. White to light brown is OK, but green and darker colors indicate that you need to change it.

Storing the Product

Any method you normally use to store your food will work with freeze-dried foods. If you are looking for 15+ years, you should look at the #10 can processing machines. Fill the can with product, throw an oxygen absorber in, and seal the can. (Don’t forget to label the can.) Harvest Right does sell mylar bags with a heat sealer, which also work well for long-term storage. However, mylar bags don’t provide any structural support, so the contents can be easily crushed or damaged. You must store these bags within a structural container, such as a plastic tote from Amazon or Costco. I like the totes that have the interlocking lids with a metal hinge pin. They are normally around $20, but you can get them at Costco for $7 when they have them in stock. We used mason jars with the Food Saver adapter, because I don’t need any longer than a three to five year shelf life, and I have an abundance of jars that we normally use for canning. The jars will actually work better for long-term storage than the cans, but they are expensive. I like them because I can see the food in them, so the only label I need is a date written on the lid with a Sharpie. Except for a few tomato-based items whose flavors are improved through the canning process, such as spaghetti sauce, I will be replacing the normal canning process with the freeze dry process, so those jars will be available for that. There are quite a few items that we have not had the opportunity yet to freeze dry. When our garden is in full swing, we are looking forward to freeze drying homemade salsa, among other things, that don’t can well. We don’t need a 20 year shelf life, because this food will be in the normal food rotation of our household.

Recipes

What can I say here… there is very little that you can not freeze dry. Foods that are high in oil or fat may not work so well. Pork bacon does not freeze dry well, nor do foods which have a very high cream content. Ice cream does surprisingly well, but only if its cream content is below 1/3. The things to look for to create successful freeze-dried foods is that the product must have a cellular structure or a relatively high solids content. Milk does well because of the dissolved minerals in it. You end up with a light flaky product that resembles the structure of mica. If the oil content is high, there must be a correspondingly high solids content, either with dissolved minerals or cellular structure, to hold the oil. Butter has neither, so the product just melts into a pool of oil– and boils vigorously in a vacuum, making a mess. Here are a few of the more difficult items that worked well for us:

  1. Eggs. It doesn’t matter how you prepare them, they just work. Our first batch was scrambled eggs. The finished product took less than 20 hours and looked just like the freshly-cooked product, but it had almost no weight. I made a steak and egg biscuit sandwich for breakfast the other day with a fresh biscuit (made from freshly ground wheat flour), a reconstituted scrambled egg, and some reconstituted steak. You couldn’t tell it from freshly cooked egg and steak. It was wonderful! The egg was scrambled with a bit of coconut oil, then cooked and freeze-dried. To reconstitute, I simply placed the amount of cooked egg I wanted in a bowl and poured hot water (from the tap) over it. Less than two minutes later, it was ready to go on the biscuit. Since I used too much water to reconstitute the egg, I reused the same water for the steak and then simply placed both on a paper towel to absorb the excess water.

    Raw egg is a little different. Its freeze-dried texture is more like milk’s, in that you end up with a crystalline product that looks like colored mica. It is light and airy, crushes easily, and reconstitutes well. Due to the high water content, a full batch (two dozen eggs per tray) will take about 30-36 hours with a defrost/restart cycle in the middle. There is virtually no shrinkage of the product, so a 1:1 ratio of water to product makes for easy measurement. Two tablespoons of hot water and two tablespoons of product (or coffee scoops) makes one large egg. You can use it in recipes dry, by increasing the required liquid in the recipe, or you can reconstitute it and then use it as you would any scrambled egg. The final, reconstituted product does not fluff as well as a fresh egg, but it’s hard to tell the difference when you cook it. In recipes, there is no difference. For scrambled eggs, you can tell the difference if you have the fresh eggs right beside it, but without that reference, you would be hard pressed to determine that it is not fresh.

    Fried eggs work very well, too. I didn’t try sunny-side-up eggs, but freeze-drying over-easy eggs was easy, and they were also easy to reconstitute. Raw, unscrambled eggs will freeze dry, but the resultant product has no structural integrity and fractures/breaks easily. When reconstituting, it’s basically the same as a raw egg in which you have broken the yoke.

    Eggs are rated based upon the amount of watery egg white when you break it open. AA eggs are about the best you are going to get, when you buy from a store that gets them from an egg farm. If you raise your own, you are probably used to AAA or AAAA eggs, where there is basically no or very little watery egg white. When you freeze the egg, you destroy the gel of the egg white, and all your eggs basically turn into A or B quality. Because of that destruction of the gel structure, don’t bother trying to whip freeze-dried egg whites. It doesn’t work.

  2. Cheese. I expected cheese to be difficult, but nothing could be further from the truth. It doesn’t even matter what kind of cheese (as long as it is real cheese). Simply grate and spread evenly on the trays. Because of the airy nature of the grated product, I piled it on about an inch thick on each tray. This worked well, because a six-pound block of Sharp Cheddar from Costco can be quartered; each quarter, shredded, fits upon one tray. We tried Sharp Cheddar, Mozzarella, Swiss, Monterrey Jack, and even Sonoma Jack (Pepper Jack). All worked well, as long as they were grated. It turns out that grated cheese is one of the easiest foods to freeze dry, despite the high fat content. It only takes 18 hours, including freeze time. Plus, a six-pound block gives you 1-1/2 gallons of shredded product that reconstitutes easily. The dry product has an intensified taste and is absolutely scrumptious. This is one product that has to be stored immediately, before all the little two-legged mice (or teenagers) in the house discover it. I should let you know that, when reconstituted, freeze-dried cheese can be melted for use on pizza or casseroles, just as if it were fresh. With all of the shredded cheese we have freeze-dried, my wife has frequently given me a kiss and told me how much she appreciates my gift of a Kitchen Aid accessory pack, which allows her to quickly shred six pounds of cheese or zucchini and crush tomatoes, while removing the skins and seeds, with little effort. (Husbands, Kitchen Aid mixers and their accessory pack could be a nice gift for your prepping wife. I have received countless kisses and thank-yous from my wife for this surprise gift.)
  3. Yogurt. Yogurt is easy to prepare. You can use parchment paper, if you like. You just dump the yogurt into the tray and spread it so that it is no more than 1/2” thick. Thinner is better, but you get less out of a batch. Because yogurt retains a dense closed-cell structure, it will take longer to freeze dry. My first batch ran about 28 hours from start to finish, and part of it still wasn’t done. It just got eaten before I could restart it. You can break it up into chunks and eat it like candy (yummy!), or you can reconstitute it in a bowl in the refrigerator overnight, and it is just like fresh the next morning.
  4. Sour Cream. We tend to like sour cream, so I was excited when it turned out to freeze dry easily. However, the reconstituted product is watery, just like when you freeze and thaw fresh sour cream. In cooking, it doesn’t matter, but it does make a difference on my baked potato. It tastes just fine; there is just not much “gel” to it. A batch is similar to milk, running about 30 hours. Prepare the tray the same as you would for yogurt.
  5. Berries. They’re better than candy bars! As I write this, I have a batch of blue berries running through the machine now. Berries take a bit longer, because they have the skin on, so a batch will run about 30-36 hours. They also have a high water content, so you may end up having to defrost/restart in the middle. I make it a habit to always perform that defrost/restart at 24 hours on any food. I actually haven’t tried reconstituting any berries yet, because they are so good in their freeze-dried form. I’m sure the reconstituted product would be like any frozen-then-thawed berry, where it is fine for cooking but questionable for just popping in your mouth due to texture changes. That’s just fine by me. I can’t think of a better or healthier sweet snack.
  6. Corn/peas. These are easy, but you either spread it out less than 1/2 thick in the tray or be prepared to defrost/restart, due to the massive water content. It takes 20 to 36 hours, depending on how many you run in the batch. The corn is like little sugar bombs; it’s sweeter than even the candy corn that is so popular with the kids at Thanksgiving. I wonder how the grandchildren will feel about getting real corn instead of candy? (They like the freeze-dried carrots that are almost sweet as candy, so I’m pretty confident they will like the corn– “sugar bombs” we shall call them.)
  7. Raw Meats. Yes, you can freeze dry raw meat. Nearly any meat you can freeze successfully, you can freeze dry. You can even freeze dry steaks, if you cut them less than 1/2” thick. Due to the thickness restraint, you can get a thicker cut by freeze drying it cooked. However, it works raw just as well. You can get a quick marinade/sauce flavoring by simply reconstituting the meat in your marinade/sauce (made with more water than usual).
  8. Potatoes. You can shred the potatoes and have instant hash brown potatoes, though it’s tough to beat Costco’s price on freeze-dried hashbrowns. I like to slice the potatoes so my wife can make scalloped potatoes easily. You can also freeze dry baked potatoes. Just cut them open, mash them to about 1/2” thick and load them with your favorite fixin’s.

There is very little that you can’t freeze dry. If you have special dietary needs or eclectic tastes, this is your answer for both long-term storage and easy, enjoyable food. Leftovers are a breeze and don’t need to be refrigerated afterwards. Our family uses very little salt, for health reasons, and this has been our major complaint of commercial freeze-dried foods. Now we can make them exactly like we want our meals. We have freeze-dried both basic ingredients to combine however we want and complete meals for convenience. It works either way. This is definitely going to be in our preps.

I encourage any of our SurvivalBlog readers to consider purchasing one of Harvest Right’s freeze dryers on their own or to get with another family or two to invest in one of these. You won’t have to buy some food that you really don’t want to eat, store it in the back of your garage for years only to find that it is ruined, due to heat, pests, or water. The Harvest Right freezer, especially with our gardens and orchards about to burst forth with fresh goodness, will enable all of us to store our produce, fruits, meats, eggs, and dairy for daily, enjoyable consumption over the years to come.

To purchase, contact Harvest Right through their website or by telephone: 801-923-4673.

Index

This is a three part review:

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10 Responses to Product Review: Harvest Right Freeze Dryer, by HJL – Part 3

  1. Mariam says:

    I am wondering if you did indeed purchase the freeze dryer and if so, how is it running almost 3 years later. I’m thinking of purchasing one since it’s got a great discount right now.

    • Hugh James Latimer says:

      I did purchase it from Harvest Right. Then they came out with a new model. I purchased the new model about a year ago, sold my older model and have been exceedingly pleased. I’m about to release an updated review on it (I think in two weeks.) Short story – Worth every penny!!

  2. El Stevo says:

    Outstanding review! That was fun to read. Thanks for the info… Thinking about getting one.

  3. Mary Owens says:

    Wow- what a review. It was fun to read and very informative. Thanks for your time to educate those of us that are thinking about a freezer. I plan on making a copy for future use. Thanks.

  4. Donna K says:

    I totally enjoyed all 3 parts of your review! Pondering getting a freeze drier, seems so practical yet so much fun. Maybe down the road, I’ll purchase one.

  5. Barbara says:

    I wish something as comprehensive as this had been included when I purchased my model six weeks ago. I live in Ireland so had no-one I could simply phone to ask when I had a query.

    Great work!

  6. :DanE says:

    Thanks for the in-depth and independent review. I’m on the verge of buying my 1st freeze dryer, the HarvestRight Home small or standard. My only remaining question is about the vacuum pump: is there any reason an oil-less vacuum pump with the same flow & pressure specs would not be better (aside from maybe price)? I spoke with a sales rep & was told the only reason they use the oiled pumps was to minimize cost, though I see comparable oil-less pumps for just a few hundred bucks. Thanks again!

    • Hugh James Latimer says:

      As far as I know, there is no reasonably priced oil-less vacuum pump that can do the job. Every oil-less pump that I looked at measured vacuum in inches of Mercury (with a standard value of 25.5 inHg being standard.) The reasonably priced vacuum pumps measure in mTorr. If you don’t get the vacuum down in the range of a few hundred mTorr, it will not operate.

  7. AH says:

    This is very interesting. All about food storage and preserving interest me. I have much to learn about this.

    I suppose you can freeze dry the food and then store it in cans. I mean canning process with oxygen absorbers. Is this assumption correct?
    Will this be safe to eat and for how long?

    • Hugh James Latimer says:

      Yes, you can store the food that way. However, the canning process must be completed within minutes of removal of the food from the Freeze Dryer because the food is completely desicated and very hygroscopic. It will rapidly absorb water from the humidity of the room once exposed to air.

      The storage life is dependent upon the oil content of the food. Foods containing higher concentrations of oil/fat will have a shorter shelf life. Some foods can last as long as 30 years, some as few as 5 years. The longevity is also dependent upon storage temperature.

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