Do you own a Harvest Right freeze dryer? Apparently a fair number of you on this blog have one. I noticed a conversation thread about the HarvestRight in the open-forum. So I decided to capture some of that conversation here and establish a sort of “place holder” for owner discussion (tips and tricks) for this home freeze dryer.
Just so you know, I don’t have one (yet) :=)
However I do have a storage of freeze dried foods in #10 cans. I’ve purchased a variety of freeze dried foods which are added to my overall long term diversified food storage. As you all know, purchasing freeze dried food can be expensive. That’s because the process is relatively expensive and time consuming. However the benefits and rewards can be significant.
Home freeze dryers have become very popular among the preparedness crowd. I believe that’s due to several things… An increase in preparedness awareness. The availability of more home freeze dryer choices. And more affordable freeze dryers than in the past.
I have no affiliation or advertising arrangement with HarvestRight at this time. They’re the apparent “go to” brand for home freeze dryers so that’s why they’re named here.
Why do people buy a home freeze dryer?
Do you own a HarvestRight? By the way, do you spell it HarvestRight or Harvest Right?
Why did you buy it? What was your motivation(s)? They’re kind of expensive, so how did you justify the purchase?
I suppose if you plan to freeze dry a lot of food for storage purposes, it could eventually break even. After that point, it’s all on the plus side… I wonder how much food you would have to freeze dry to make it worth it?
Other motivations to buy one might also include the hobby aspect of it. That would make sense for some.
Another reason could be that you know what you’re putting in there. Your ingredients. Your choices.
I know that some freeze dried foods can make for delicious snacks too. You can get some great results this way.
Anyway, you owners of the Harvest Right, let us know your reasons…
‘Montana Home’ here on the blog asked (regarding the Harvest Right) “Do you have any helpful do’s and don’ts or things you wish you knew? Or anybody else that has one and wants to chime in.”
So I thought that would be a good starting point. I captured a few of the responses and will copy them below. If would like to add more tips and tricks, comment below.
HarvestRight (Harvest Right) Tips & Tricks comments
Harvest Right Owners:
‘Mrs. U’ says…
I like my Harvest Right a lot, and have a medium with 4 trays. You know what is in your food.
I have an older pump which is a bit noisy, but okay. Consider the premier pump or the oil-free pump if budget allows, they will be extra. The included pump is fine though. Occasionally the oil gets trapped in the vacuum hose, but is easy to fix by unplugging from the dryer and turning it on. The included pump will spray oil, but I fixed that with 2 paper towels, a sandwich bag and 2 clothes pins. You will want to use Robinaire oil, less water in it. The pump will heat up a room for sure. I have several large plastic peanut butter jars I let the used oil settle in. Have a filter too, but found that the oil will settle and can be used several times.
The only issue with the dryer was a door adjustment and operator error. Get the silicon tray inserts for sure. Timing is something you will learn. Don’t want your food to be ready at 1:00 am!
Mine is on a cart, easy to move. Will need a cart that is flat on top.
You can save ($) when freeze drying meat. Cooked is my preference.
I have posted about Freeze Dried Rice a Roni, but here are specs. A #10 can of good Mountain House, Rice and Chicken cost around $27.00 (as of this post date) with 9 servings, which is cup each. I can Freeze Dry some cooked Rice a Roni with added chicken and extra veggies of my choice and get 16 one cup servings for around 6 to 10 dollars. Freeze Dried meat is real expensive. Pork rehydrates the best.
Oh and do not Freeze Dry any fatty meat like hotdogs or kielbasa. The fat will be vacuumed up under the tray holder and be a bi atch to clean off.
‘Mitten Mom’ says…
I have a medium Harvest Right and I love it!! I ordered it first week in August (2020) and didn’t actually get until November.
Of all the years I’ve been reading this blog there we so many helpful tips written but I never thought my DH would ever want to purchase a freeze dryer, so I never made notes.
I would love to have a standing article for tips and tricks of the Harvest Right here on MSB. Most articles on the web are from the older style units, which is fine but their new software makes it pretty easy to use. Because the unit monitors things pretty good. I always try to add a couple of hours after the process is complete for good measure.
Seriously I cannot imagine you regretting purchasing it in the end!!
We have had our medium size Harvest Right since July of 2020. It was DH’s idea and I was hesitant because of the cost, however I will admit it was a wise decision.
I freeze the vegetables from the garden that will last us a year, the rest has all been freeze dried.
I am not a canner nor do we have any type of livestock, so long term storage had been expensive buying freeze dried meats and dairy.
The freeze dryer has given me peace of mind in having a long term pantry.
I have freeze dried lean beef, pork, chicken and turkey that will provide us for at least two years if needed. When we do our shopping every two months, I always purchase at least two of everything we have in our meal plan. Then I will freeze dry the second item as well as any left overs from casseroles and such.
‘Hermit Us’ recommends to always cook meats before hand which I agree with, and I always freeze the trays at least overnight which cuts the cycle time down.
Items that caused a problem:
The only items that have caused a problem for me were store bought frozen berries. Too much water for the pump to handle. I have had success with raspberries and strawberries, but the ones that caused the problem were mixed blueberries, raspberries and strawberries. They were frozen in chunks and I think I just didn’t break them down enough.
Also wanted to mention the customer service is very good. We bought the oil-free pump and those berries messed it up. Harvest Right had us send it back but sent us an oil pump, oil and filter to use while they checked out the oil-free pump. They told us to just keep the oil pump at no cost when they returned the oil-free pump.
We really didn’t see much difference between the two pumps. As long as you can get oil, and don’t mind changing it, we thought the oil pump worked just fine. Could have saved us some bucks if we would have known.
This freeze dryer has been run at least twice a week for about 8 months with no further issues. Hope this helps.
‘Mississippi Gal’ says…
I have had a medium Harvest Right freeze dryer for about 3 years now.
The regular pump that came with the machine started having problems last year, and I replaced it with the premier pump. I wish I had had it all along. It is so much quieter than the standard pump–the freeze dryer itself makes more noise than the premier pump.
Also, having the ability to go 25-30 runs before changing the oil is a nice plus (granted, it’s not difficult to filter the oil after each run–it’s just more convenient not to). I would definitely recommend the premier pump if you can afford the upgrade.
We have the medium machine as well, with the oil less pump after not wanting to mess with filtering the oil any longer.
Check out Utube for lots of great drying ideas (our favorite candy is freeze dried Skittles…crunchy and puffy). Apples, yogurt drops and strawberries! I could make them every week and still not keep up with family demand.
Cut berries (blueberries, strawberries, grapes, etc) in half and position cut side up so they dry better.