Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Harvest Right Freeze Dryer Accessories

A Harvest Right freeze dryer for home use is an investment, but it's a worthwhile one for preserving food.  However, after your initial investment there are more freeze dried food supplies that you should buy to go with it.  Here are the freeze dryer accessories that are must haves and nice to haves.

Freeze Dried Food Supplies

I mostly can our food, but I wanted more options for preserving foods.  When I learned about the Harvest Right freeze dryer, I knew that it would be the perfect complement to canning and preserving.

The Harvest Right freeze dryer is the only freeze dryer available for home use.  It was an investment, but it saves us money and helps ensure that we have plenty of food saved.

I love it because it's incredibly easy to use.  I also love that I can freeze dry foods that can't be preserved in other ways.  

For example, if you make chili or soup, you need to follow a safe canning recipe.  I can make my favorite recipes and freeze dry them for later without worrying about pH levels or what I'm adding to the food.

The Harvest Right freeze dryer comes with a lot of accessories, but there were more freeze dry supplies that we've picked up over the last year.  Some of these Harvest Right accessories are must haves, and some are to make things easier for us.

If you want to learn more about freeze drying, check out these posts:

Is a Freeze Dry a Good Investment?

Yes, I believe so.  As I mentioned, I'm able to freeze dry more foods than I can preserve by canning.  I also save freezer space.

I live in a rural area, so power outages happen.  We've had a few times where the power was out for 2 to 3 days after a storm.  I don't want to lose food in my freezer.

I can freeze dry almost anything.  The main exceptions are oily food, peanut butter, and honey.

Is Freeze Dried the Same as Dehydrated?

Freeze dried and dehydrated both remove water, but the freeze dryer is much better.  It removes 99 percent of the water so the food can be preserved for up to 25 years if stored properly.  

The textures are different.  Dehydrated food tends to be chewy, but freeze dried food is crunchy.

I can reconstitute freeze dried food, but dehydrated food doesn't reconstitute as well.

Learn more about freeze dry vs dehydrated to see how they are different.

How Must Does a Freeze Dry Machine Cost?

Again, it's an investment.  There are three sizes of Harvest Right freeze dryers:

  • Small 4-7 pounds of food (about $2500)
  • Medium 7-10 pounds of food (about $3200)
  • Large 12-16 pounds of food (about $3600)

We went with the medium.  This was mostly due to the fact that the large needs a dedicated 20 amp circuit.  With the layout of our home, this wasn't practical.

What Harvest Right Accessories are Included?

I was pleasantly surprised at what Harvest Right accessories came with the machine.  It had everything we needed to get started.

  • Vacuum pump
  • Oil for the pump
  • Oil filter
  • Stainless steel trays
  • Guide
  • Mylar bags
  • Oxygen absorbers
  • Impulse sealer

This is the minimum that you need for freeze dry supplies.  We ended up buying more over the last year.

Freeze Dryer Accessories 

These Harvest Right accessories are must haves and I highly recommend purchasing them soon after you get started.

Food Storage

You'll need a way to store food once it's freeze dried.  Here are some freeze dry supplies for food storage:

  • Mason jars for very short term storage.  I use these for food we want to snack on and dried vegetables for cooking.
  • Vacuum sealer for a bit longer storage.  Vacuum sealed food will last a few months to a few years.  I also picked up the mason jar attachment so I can vacuum seal jars and not use the plastic bags as much.
  • Mylar bags and oxygen absorbers for long term storage.  I tried a few brands on Amazon and got inconsistent results.  Now I just order from Harvest Right.  They are more expensive, but I need to know that they will work for long term storage.
  • Use a pantry inventory tracker to keep track of what food you've freeze dried for long term and short term storage.

The mason jars we already had, so I didn't have to buy any.  You can also save money on freeze dry supplies by reusing canning lids.  You can either use a new lid and keep reusing it with the vacuum sealer or you can vacuum seal a lid that you used for canning.

I mark the lids with an X on top so I know that they've been used for canning.  Visually inspect the lid.  As long as it's flat with no nicks in the seal, it should be good.

Learn how to store freeze dried food.

Food Storage Accessories

These freeze dryer accessories are helpful to have when storing your freeze dried food.

  • Use a moisture meter to make sure your food is dry enough for storage.  You don't want to open a bag in a few years and find rotten food!
  • Storage bins for storing your mylar bags of food.  The mylar bags protect from moisture and light, but they can still be eaten by mice or other animals.
  • Use a food grade wide scoop with a flat bottom to quickly scoop food from the tray to fill your bags.
  • Use a funnel to easily fill bags or mason jars.
  • Keep mylar bags open to fill easily with a bag stand.

Freeze Dryer Trays and Accessories

The Harvest Right comes with one set of trays, but we bought another set a few weeks later.  I bought some cheap trays at the dollar store that didn't fit the machine, but I wanted them to be able to prefreeze the next load to save time and energy.

These work for sliced fruit and vegetables, but they don't work for liquids like eggs or soups.  I ended up buying a spare set of trays.  I usually have one set in the machine, one in the freezer, and sliced food on my cheap trays in the freezer.

There are also some freeze dryer accessories that you can buy for your trays:

  • Silicone liners.  The trays are wonderful in that they clean very easily.  However, after running some bananas that stuck, we picked up silicone liners for easier clean up.  
  • If you want to run smaller batches of several liquids or runny foods, these smaller trays aren't made for the medium machine, but they fit perfect two per shelf.
  • Tray dividers are great for keeping foods separated.  I use them for things that puff up like candy.  You can also get silicone food molds to prefreeze food in little squares.  This works well for messy foods that may leak with the dividers.
  • To save space, stack your trays in the freezer.  The food can be over the top of the tray, so use tray stackers to prevent squishing the food.
  • I don't have a set of tray lids, but I wish I did!  My machine mostly runs constantly, but sometimes we prep food and then take a few days off.  (Update: I have these lids, and I love them!  They stack well and are well worth the investment!)

Freeze Dried Food Supplies for Food Prep

Prepping 10 pounds of food at a time takes some time.  Here are some food prep items that we use often.

  • I use an egg slicer for mushrooms, berries, and soft fruits.  It's so easy to get uniform slices.
  • We picked up a large apple and potato cutter at Lehman's Hardware a few years ago.  It's been discontinued, but it's similar to this french fry maker.  It's a dream for cutting apples and potatoes!  We also use a regular apple slicer to save on prep time.
  • I use a pastry scraper all the time for scooping and scraping.
  • The food chopper does julienne cuts, chops, and slices food quickly.  
  • You'll need a digital scale to weigh your foods.  I add as close to 2.5 pounds per tray for my medium.

Harvest Right Accessories for the Machine

Your machine doesn't need any more accessories, but these are handy to have.

  • A door pad helps insulate the machine to reduce drying time.
  • The Harvest Right freeze dryer is heavy, so you'll need a sturdy place to set it.  We put ours on a kitchen counter.  For free standing, you'll need a utility cart or something similar.
  • Keep an eye on your machine with a camera mount.  You can check it from your phone to see if there are problems.
  • Get your machine clean with these handy cleaning tools.
  • Silicone oven mitts are handy because the trays can be very cold if you don't take them out right away.
  • Stay organized with a freeze drying log book.  This has a batch log, maintenance log, and more to help you stay organized.
  • If you need to upgrade your hose, I recommend this hydraulic hose.  This can help boost your machine's performance too.
  • If you have vacuum leak problems and want to do the Felix Fix, here's a link to the supplies you'll need. 
  • If you forgot to dump the bucket and sucked water back into a batch, you'll want this no suck kit to prevent that.

These freeze dried food supplies and Harvest Right accessories will help you prep and package your food quickly.  Enjoy your machine!

Like this post?  Pin it!

No comments:

Post a Comment