What is a Freeze Dryer?
In the simplest terms, a freeze dryer is a refrigerated vacuum chamber. It allows you to preserve your food by removing the water content, virtually ceasing the normal process of deterioration. Your bananas won’t turn black; your tomatoes won’t rot; your potatoes won’t grow eyes and roots—think of it as suspended animation for food. If you want to be scientific, the proper term for this is lyophilization.
For example, when shopping you might buy rock-hard Bartlett pears because they are resistant to damage when shipped that way. Over the course of the next few days of sitting on your counter they will turn from green to yellow, soften and become deliciously edible.
If you want to preserve them in that perfect-for-eating state, where a thumb pressed gently against them will leave dent, now is the time to quarter them, core them, and freeze dry them. Once freeze-dried they will store in pristine condition for decades!
This holds true for virtually all veggies and fruits, and even completely prepared meals. All you need to know is the original weight before they were freeze-dried, their new weight after freeze-drying, and thus you know precisely how much water to add to restore them to their original condition.
Many people choose to weigh each tray before it goes in the freeze dryer, and drop a little written note on each tray so they can record the difference when the item is packaged. Once rehydrated produce, or entire meals, are typically undetectably to your dinner guests, recovering the texture and flavor of something freshly made. It’s a win-win scenario!
What to Know Before You Buy
Commercial Freeze-Dryers are far outside the budget of a typical homeowner. They are bulky, require constant supervision, and can freeze-dry quantities that the home user simply cannot produce. There is definitely a home market, but it was largely an unfilled niche with only a few suppliers of more useful sizes.
The miniature units supplied by some can be useful if you just have a small selection of products to process, but oftentimes after trying it there is a desire to expand and do more. The advice is generally to buy the largest one you can afford but that doesn’t suit everyone. Think about what you can actually provide and process.
Of course, people guided by inaccurate online advice have tried to freeze dry food without using a freeze dryer. Naturally, the results were going to be lackluster, unappealing, or an outright failure. Remember the last time you took a frozen chicken leg out of the deep freezer where somehow its container had acquired a hole? Freezer burn is a fault, not a solution, and that is not what freeze-drying really is.
Our founder, Tonghu Jiang, recognized the shortcomings in the home freeze-drying industry and put his engineering skills to work. He holds a PhD from Johns Hopkins Whiting School of Engineering, and consequent to his own research and development, he also holds the patent for the wholly automated freeze-drying process.
Let the other manufacturers struggle to keep up—or you can simply start with the best! This bespoke design for the homeowner combines speed, electrical efficiency, and full automation to make Stay Fresh Technology the best choice for your needs. Where else can you spend $1.25-$2.50 per day on electricity and save so much money by preparing food when it’s cheap, and then eating it when it’s expensive to buy?
Some people prep for disaster, some people prep for being far off the grid—having a supply of food that will last a quarter of a century is appealing to them. Others, such as farmers and small business owners, make attractive and highly saleable products for roadside stands (astronaut Ice Cream, is a big seller!), or supply local stores.
It’s also great for hikers that want to carry plenty of food, but don’t want the weight. Water is available most everywhere, so why carry it around in your food? It’s much easier to carry water-purification tablets and find a handy stream than to lug 40 pounds of water on your back!
What Can and Cannot be Freeze-Dried
Most fruits are good, including Apples, Apricots, Avocados, Bananas, Blueberries, Cherries, Citrus, Dragon fruit, Grapes, Lychee or Rambutan, Mango, Pear, Peach, Pineapple, Raspberries, Strawberries, and Watermelon.
Veggies & Herbs:
Asparagus, Basil, Broccoli, Carrots, Cauliflower, Celery, Cilantro (Coriander), Dill Weed, Eggplant, Ginger, Green Beans, Hot Peppers (e.g. Jalapeño), Kale, Mint, Mushrooms, Okra, Onions, Oregano, Parsley, Peas, Pumpkin, Sage, Spinach, Spring Onions, Squash, Sweet Peppers, and Wax beans.
Fish & Seafood:
Here are some suggestions, including Cod, Mackerel, Salmon, Sardines, Scallops, Shrimps, Tuna, and whitefish such as Bass, Pickerel, Tilapia, Trout, etc.
You can freeze-dry Beef, Chicken, Deli Meat, Eggs (raw or cooked), Lamb, Pork, or Venison with no problems. High fat items, such as Bacon only last a couple of years. If you’re going to preserve that, make sure you remove all the excess fat before freeze-drying to make it last the longest possible time.
Many cheeses, since Cheddar (for example) is about 40% moisture. Similarly freeze drying works for Sour Cream, Yogurt, non-fat Milk, Ice Cream, and for you coffee drinkers out there, Heavy Cream, too.
This is a much shorter list because there are some factors that preclude freeze-drying that you can simply remember. High-sugar and High-fat items do not work.
For instance, don’t try to freeze-dry Butter, Chocolate (okay if mixed in other things), Honey, Jams and Jellies, Nuts, Peanut Butter, Soda Pop, and Syrups. And guess what? Alcohol of any type will be dealcoholized if you try it, defeating the entire purpose.
Whether you operate (or wish to start) a Health Food store, want to expand your business to sell freeze-dried products online, or just want to lay in supplies for your own use, a good quality, perfectly engineered Freeze-Drying system is a great place to start. Our California-based company is here with the real experts that can provide practical advice and answer your questions.
Give us a call today and let us get you on the road to saving money or even monetizing your crops and creations into a profitable business. We would love to hear from you!