Mind & Body

Freeze Drying: Lifesaving and a Lifestyle

For emergency situations and for fast, nutritious meals, an in-home freeze dryer can be a great boon
TIMEOctober 8, 2018

When Hurricane Sandy caused over a million people to lose power for days or weeks from the Northeast to the Midwest, those who had a stockpile of freeze-dried food were extremely grateful for it.

Several relieved residents recounted their experiences to the company they’d purchased food from. One New Jersey resident said containers of freeze-dried food and cooking equipment kept his family going for two weeks.

“When Hurricane Sandy came through it took out power to my home for 14 days. Stores ran out of food within 3 to 4 hours within a 400-mile radius and gas stations ran out of fuel within the hour and none were open for weeks. Your emergency kit with the burners and your buckets [of freeze-dried food] are the reason why my family had food for four weeks. It took that long to restock all the shelves in all supermarkets.”

Another customer from northeast Ohio said he lost power almost immediately after Sandy hit his area on Oct. 29, 2012.

“Let me tell you it was a godsend to have hot meals … while waiting to get power,” he wrote.

Freeze-drying is a way of preserving food that uses very cold temperatures and a vacuum to remove all the water. The dry food is very lightweight, retains its color, flavor, and can be stored for decades.

Freeze-drying also preserves up to 97 percent of nutrients, making it much healthier than canned food.

Freeze-dried fruits an vegetables make great snacks for kids. (Courtesy of Harvest Right)
Freeze-dried fruits and vegetables make great snacks for children. (Courtesy of Harvest Right)

Some users said their store of freeze-dried food helped them get through economic hardship, stressful times when cooking wasn’t convenient, or made great care packages for family members in the military. Some have stores of freeze-dried food that would allow their families to live for months or even years if need be.

And for a growing number of people, freeze-drying is becoming a way of life—helping them more conveniently feed their families quality, homemade food.

Sharon Woolsey [a pseudonym] learned to be adventurous in her cooking while living in South America for two years. Now, her husband and three children motivate her to cook healthy meals that everyone will enjoy.

Freeze-dried kale. (Courtesy of Harvest Right)
Freeze-dried kale. (Courtesy of Harvest Right)

Sharon is a hardworking mom trying to balance home management, part-time work, church and community involvement, and everything else.

Perhaps it was her fearlessness in the kitchen or her need to balance the many roles she plays that motivated her to try the Harvest Right home freeze dryer. Whatever her motivation, the result was discovering a completely new way to look at food.

“Of all the interesting, and innovative appliances I’ve worked with, this was possibly the most amazing, the most interesting, and the most innovative,” Sharon said after her first few months with the Harvest Right freeze dryer.

Harvest Right is a U.S. business headquartered in Utah, where the in-home freeze dryer was invented for people just like Sharon. It took years to take an appliance like the freeze dryer and make it, not only the right size and automated enough to work in one’s home, but also affordable enough for the average consumer.

The convenient freeze dryer is about the size of a mini-fridge and can be used in a variety of locations such as a kitchen, spare room, laundry room, or even a garage. Sharon keeps hers on a cart so she can easily wheel it in and out of the kitchen. She stores it in her garage during the winter and brings it into her large pantry during the summer months.

Freeze-dried apple, pineapple, banana, and grape pieces. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)
Freeze-dried pineapple, grape, banana, and apples. (Samira Bouaou/Epoch Times)

This appliance is a game changer for a lot of reasons. It can freeze-dry 6 to 10 pounds of food at a time, which makes it perfect for creating nutritious snacks that even the kids will love and saving leftovers for healthy meals. When stored properly, freeze-dried foods can last for 15 to 25 years, making it an essential tool for anyone who practices food storage like Sharon.

It’s important to note that Harvest Right’s machine is not a dehydrator. Dehydrators heat up food as they suck the water out, which can reduce food’s nutritional makeup by more than half. This appliance doesn’t heat food, but instead freezes it to between -30 and -50 degrees Fahrenheit. And then, the chamber the food is in becomes a vacuum, like outer space.

Because water in liquid form can’t exist in a vacuum, the ice turns straight into a vapor as it’s pulled out of the food while still very, very cold, leaving the nutritional integrity, as well as the taste and appearance, of freeze-dried food completely intact. A grape still looks like a grape; a slice of peach still looks as fresh as it did before it was freeze-dried; meats and seafood stay fresh and taste fresh even after being freeze-dried.

One of Sharon’s favorite uses for her freeze dryer is getting creative in the kitchen. Freeze-drying foods has allowed her to create recipes that wouldn’t be possible otherwise.

“Often, the biggest challenge in introducing fresh fruits into recipes, for example, is that the water adds too much moisture, and interferes with the fat. Removing all of the water allows you to add concentrated flavor,” Sharon said. “I’ve found that the uses in the kitchen are endless.”

Freeze-dried yogurt drops. (Courtesy of Harvest Right)
Freeze-dried yogurt drops. (Courtesy of Harvest Right)

Besides making healthy snacks for her family and delicious baked goods, Sharon has also found her freeze dryer useful in preserving her garden bounty. Like many avid gardeners, Sharon saw her food going to waste because she couldn’t use the produce fast enough. Now, she has a solution that keeps her goods fresh until she’s ready to use them.

“[I love to preserve] my fresh produce in the freeze dryer because it plumps back to life so beautifully. It’s also the absolute best way to preserve herbs, especially as they retain 100 percent of their flavor.”

Produce from the garden isn’t all a freeze dryer can save from going to waste. Leftovers and ripening grocery-store produce stay out of the trash can thanks to the freeze dryer too. With foods that ripen very quickly, like bananas or avocados, the Harvest Right freeze dryer can preserve them in their prime. Sharon noted that her Harvest Right freeze dryer allows her to beautifully preserve avocados so they’re available anytime she wants them.

 Freeze-dried ice cream dipped in chocolate. (Courtesy of Harvest Right)
Freeze-dried ice cream dipped in chocolate. (Courtesy of Harvest Right)

The ability to keep food from going bad helps offset the price tag, Sharon said. American families throw out around $2,275 worth of food a year on average. That figure alone almost pays for the freeze dryer.

Freeze-dried pineapple, grapes, and yogurt drops have replaced Sharon’s children’s favorite candy; she turns freeze-dried kale and Greek yogurt into powder to add to her morning smoothies; and freeze-dried ice cream dipped in chocolate has become a popular treat at her house parties. Sharon has found a way to turn this classic food storage technique into a way of life.

Learn more about this revolutionary appliance at HarvestRight.com or call 800-853-5197.

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