A freeze dryer is certainly a worthy investment for your kitchen, but many of us are still on the fence wondering if it’s worth the overall cost. Despite all of the outgoing expenses for the equipment that you’ll need, the biggest question might have you wondering why you didn’t buy a freeze dryer sooner. This guide will help answer many of the myths and fears of taking the next big step in long-term food preparation.
Why should you buy a freeze dryer?
It used to be a joke in the early 2000s that you heard anything about Sous Vide cooking. Although it was largely unknown until 2015, TV shows including The Iron Chef America began to show this was an essential future of cooking to perfection. Most of us might remember the movie “Burnt” that was released in 2015 that same year featuring Bradley Cooper as a washed-up Gordon Ramsay-like chef who regains his failures and discovers the new cooking method of Sous Vide.
Well, to be honest- many people hated this movie but might have missed the point that one good subliminal advertisement was planted into the minds of everyday people. This is similar to how the word about freeze dryers had spread so quickly on food preservation. It started as early as the 1960s when freeze-dried ice cream was being sold as a novelty. Although freeze-dried food was developed for Astronauts, many people forget the everyday products that are better-known.
There is freeze-dried coffee, instant ramen noodles, and ready-made MREs (Meal Ready-to-Eat). Although MREs are typically sold to military outlets, many of these are purchased online just as easily these days. Most of the contents are vacuum-sealed and typically freeze-dried to lighten the weight of these instant meals. The largest group that has slowly been praising freeze-drying has been the urban survivalists aka ‘preppers’.
This group might be considered fringe because they are storing food for the end of the world, or perhaps the next Zombie Apocalypse- but they do talk a lot about what the freeze dryer is capable of. Many of the handy Youtube channels feature extensive tutorials on how it works and what can and cannot be freeze-dried. Some videos are funnier than others, including this guy who freeze-dried crawfish tails who pointed out very obvious facts.
Why is a freeze dryer so expensive?
The cost of freeze dryer models has been dropping in cost due to the expansion of interested customers. In the last 5 years, the cost has dropped dramatically by almost $2500 on the smallest home freeze dryer. Yet the cost of the cheapest model on the market is still a small investment for your kitchen. On average, the cheapest model that you can buy is going to cost about $2000 to $2500 for a freeze dryer with an oil-based pump.
The reason that freeze dryers are expensive has a lot to do with the vacuum pump. These pumps are a bit different than the kind that air-conditioner technicians use in their work. What these pumps do is remove most of the air inside the freeze dryer to create a near-vacuum similar to outer space. The whole scientific process is called Lyophilization and uses a combination of rapid freezing that ranges between -30 to -50 degrees Fahrenheit.
Then as the food is frozen, it becomes exposed to a high vacuum as the food is warmed. The vapor that comes off the food then is filtered out of the freeze dryer while the food becomes completely freeze-dried. It’s not exactly a science experiment but the process in fact is pure science! For this reason, the entire chamber needs to be air-tight to withstand the vacuum chamber forces.
Vacuum pumps that are used for this process will also cost more if they are oil-free. The advantage of oil-free pumps over oil pumps is never having any need to change the oil inside the pump. Once the oil has become contaminated, the time it takes for the pump to remove the air within the chamber takes longer each time. An oil-free pump will cost as much as double because it uses a different method for removing air from the freeze dryer.
Best reasons to buy a freeze dryer.
Most people who have bought a freeze dryer will start to see cost savings in buying food after the first 12 months. This might sound incredibly far into the future for seeing savings, but the reasoning is very simple. Food that is freeze-dried and packaged in vacuum-sealed bags will enjoy food for 25x as long. This means that freeze-dried food can last in storage for 25 years or more!
Anyone who has a basement or a cool dry place for storing their freeze-dried food can easily store food for several upcoming years without ever needing to shop at a conventional store at all. For some people, the ideal thought of having 25 years’ worth of food is within itself a cost-effective saving that surpasses the price of food these days.
Freeze-dried food retains 98% of the nutrition contained within the food being prepared. You don’t have to worry about flavor either since this is also preserved perfectly with fresh flavors the day it became freeze-dried. Fruits, vegetables, meats, nuts, grains, and even candy can be freeze-dried without going bad if they are sealed in the proper foil-lined vacuum-sealed bags.
A lucrative side business
The cost of freeze-dried foods is increasing all over the country with many people looking to find cheaper alternatives to mainstream freeze-dry companies. This is an excellent business that many are now starting to discover is a growing need for different freeze-dried foods of all sorts. The biggest advantage of freeze-drying is preventing seeds and beans from becoming rancid.
This is certainly going to be essential for urban farmers and those looking to grow their favorite foods in the future. Or simply for avid gardeners who don’t want their supply of seeds from the store or garden outlets to spoil simply from being exposed to the air.
Eat what you like when it’s not in season
The problem with seasonal food is not having that select food around when you really want to enjoy something special. Imagine being about to eat summer squash or delicate spring berries at the peak of their freshness anytime you like. That seasonal flavor is preserved perfectly for your enjoyment and is another great reason to take advantage of seasonal harvests that are on sale and cost next to nothing.