Have you been contemplating getting a freeze dryer for your home?
A freeze dryer is a welcome investment for anyone looking to preserve food to prolong storage.
When done right, you can store your food for as long as 25 years, although it’s implausible you’ll reach that stage.
But having a freeze dryer also entails other things, such as allotting space for it and upkeep costs.
If you’re looking to invest in one, here are considerations you need to think about before checking out that machine.
Amount of Space Needed
The amount of space plays a factor when choosing a Freeze Dryer for your home.
Where do you plan to put it? Do you have space for it? A home Freeze Dryer might not be as big as its pharmaceutical or industrial-grade counterparts, but it takes up more space than your microwave oven and can be at par with a small refrigerator, at the very least.
And note that freeze dryers tend to be noisy when the vacuum pump is running, which usually runs towards the second half of the whole freeze-drying process. It might not be ideal if you have bedrooms or living quarters near the Freeze Dryer due to the possible noise it makes.
When choosing space for your Freeze Dryer, don’t forget to consider the possible noise it makes during use and how it may affect other members of your household.
Frequency of Use
The next thing you need to consider is the frequency of use.
Do you see yourself using it weekly or every quarter?
A Home Freeze Dryer is a good investment if you see yourself using it regularly. You need not use it every day, but ideally, you would want to use it frequently to ensure that it doesn’t gather dust, or worse, break down due to inactivity. Remember, a Home Freeze Dryer takes up space, so you would want to make the most of it and not turn it into a mere conversation piece.
Before you choose a Freeze Dryer for your home, you should consider the capacity of the chamber. You wouldn’t want to buy something too big or keep on freeze-drying food every day.
If you think you would be in the latter situation, then you should consider a freeze dryer with a larger capacity. You need not go industrial size, since that will cost quite a lot. Luckily, brands like Harvest Right make freeze dryers of different sizes and geared towards home users.
Having a freeze dryer with enough capacity to reduce the number of times you need also saves electricity costs.
Amount of Time Needed
Freeze drying is far from freezing water to have ice cubes on hand or just putting your food inside the freezer.
The reality is that freeze-drying is made up of three (3) steps, making the process longer.
The first step is freezing, wherein your food is frozen and dropped to subzero temperatures, depending on the kind of material put in it. Foods are rapidly frozen to minimize the formation of large ice crystals that compromises the quality in the end.
After the rapid freezing comes the sublimation drying. The food gets locked in a vacuum to vaporize the ice without turning it into liquid, and expels the vapor into a cold condensation unit and turns into ice.
The last step would be desorption drying. The food is preserved, brought back to room temperatures, and the ice collected is melted. In this step, most of the remaining water content is removed from the food. Once this process is finished, your food is preserved and ready for storing.
Maintenance and Overall Costs
The upfront cost of a Freeze Dryer depends on the capacity and the type of vacuum pump you get for it. The vacuum pump is crucial here; you can’t skip it, as you won’t be able to use the Freeze Dryer.
When it comes to the vacuum pump, you have two choices: oil and oil-free.
Vacuum oil pumps are cheaper than oil-free vacuum pumps, but they entail overhead costs in maintenance. The good news here is that you can reuse the oil up to three times before disposing of it. Replacing and recycling the oil is also easy, and you don’t need any special tools to do so.
A gallon of oil for your vacuum pump can cost around 33 dollars and would need about three cups to run your freeze dryer smoothly. That would mean getting around 15 uses from a gallon. Likewise, you are likely to get the vacuum oil pump free with your freeze dryer.
Oil-free vacuum pumps, meanwhile, do not have any maintenance costs. You don’t have to spend on regular checks and oil replacement. But these vacuum pumps can be pretty expensive. Often, you’d see these pumps priced double the cost of a vacuum oil pump.
If you do the math, it will take some time before you break even with the cost of the oil-free vacuum pump. Is it worth the hefty amount? It depends on you.
Oh, and if something breaks outside the warranty, the repair cost will be more than a vacuum oil pump.
Buying a freeze dryer isn’t just a matter of purchasing a household machine, as it entails proper planning to make the most of it.
As they cost a lot up front, it would be wise to understand how to make the most of the machine, given the consideration you need to factor in.
But once you understand how to freeze dryers work, you’ll be maximizing it in ways you never thought of.