If you haven’t already joined the thousands of Americans getting into home freeze-drying, you’re missing out! Freeze-drying is a fantastic method of food preparation that not only preserves your food for an extremely long time but keeps its great flavor.
Freeze-drying has been around for a long time, in fact, traced all the way back to the Incas, who used to use freeze-drying to preserve potatoes. In the twentieth century, the medical applications of freeze-drying came to the fore, and it’s thanks to this process that tablet medicines such as penicillin exist in the form we now know them.
Fast forward to today, and companies such as Harvest Right now offer relatively affordable home units so that you, too, can get in on freeze-drying!
Here’s our list of the 17 reasons that we reckon you need a freeze dryer. The reasons are broken up into two main categories – being prepared and enriching your backyard homestead lifestyle.
Get a Freeze Dryer for Prepping
You never know when an emergency might happen. The outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 caused a whole load of panic buying and saw many people getting into ‘prepping’ (stocking up in case of disaster).
Freeze-dried foods are great ideal for disaster situations like this. Not only do they have extremely long shelf lives (when stored properly, often they can last for decades), but they retain their flavor well and are light and easily packed.
The freeze-drying process removes up to 99% of a food’s water content (if you want to find out more about how it does this, check out our guide here). This makes it extremely light and smaller than the original food while maintaining all of the nutritional benefits.
Of course, in an SHTF (something-hitting-the-fan) scenario, this is perfect! That’s whether you need to pack the food into an emergency 72-hour kit for “bug-out” situations (where you need to leave your house, perhaps to escape fires or other natural disasters), or are planning to build up supplies to “bug-in” (stay in a safe place for long enough to see out your problem).
Whatever the scenario, freeze-dried foods are a tasty, long-lasting, and space-efficient solution to your needs. Some of the emergencies I thought of that might be useful include;
Reason #1: Tornadoes
One of my worst nightmares! In this kind of situation, it can be great to have a food store to avoid the inevitable panic-buying as the weather forecasts come in.
Reason #2: Earthquakes
Earthquakes can hit with no notice at all. Especially in places such as the San Andreas fault line, there’s a relatively high risk of earthquakes – so having a ready supply of freeze-dried food keeps you ready for that.
Reason #3: Fires
This year has seen a record number of fires across the globe, in part due to the effects of climate change. Again, a good supply of freeze-dried foods means you’ll not have to worry in case of one of these!
Reason #4: Pandemics
2020 taught us that pandemics can strike at any time. Keeping a supply of food at home ensures that in this kind of scenario you can isolate as much as possible.
Reason #5: Financial or a job change emergency
Not all catastrophes happen on a global scale! Having a ready supply of food at home means that even if you receive an unexpected bill, cost, or even lose your job, you won’t have to worry about keeping food on the table.
Reason #6: Power Outages
We’ve all had the frustrating experience of waking up to a freezer full of defrosted food (and the panicked meal planning that goes on afterward to try to work through it without wasting any!). The freeze-drying process lets foods be stored at room temperature in shelf conditions, even foods such as meat or fruit that are normally sensitive to these conditions.
Most foods can be freeze-dried effectively to be stored for ages. We have plenty of guides to which foods freeze-dry well in the Backyard Homestead HQ freeze-drying section here!
Using a home freeze-dryer, you can make almost any of your favorite foods into a ready-prepared and easily stored item. That means less panicking when the power goes out, even for a few days or longer. It also means that you’ll have a great choice of foods to eat in these situations, not just canned tuna and chips!
Reason #7: To be ready for the Zombie Apocalypse!
You never know what’s going to happen! In the case of an unlikely world-ending scenario (let’s say the zombie apocalypse…) freeze-dried food would be a great solution. Ever seen those films with groups of survivors fighting for supplies? Well, you’d be set in the comfort of your own home – chowing down on some delicious, pre-prepared food well after all the superstore foods had expired.
To be sure, it’s an unlikely reason, but don’t let that stop you from getting prepared.
Get a Freeze Dryer to Enrich Your Lifestyle
There are a lot of other reasons to get a freeze-dryer. All of these reasons will enrich your personal life, your family life, or just the fun that you get to have.
Reason #8: Camping or Travel
Forget MREs (Meal, Ready to Eat) and expensive shop-bought freeze-dried meals. If you have your own freeze-dryer you’ll be able to prepare your own meals at a much lower cost, while making them exactly how you like them.
Freeze-dried meals are perfect for camping and travel. They’re much lighter than the original foods, and take up less space, too. It’s for these reasons that astronauts eat almost exclusively freeze-dried foods on the International Space Station!
Let’s consider a normal apple, which generally would weigh about a third of a pound. After cutting into chunks and freeze-drying, this could weigh as little as a tenth of an ounce!
It’s clear that freeze-drying foods is a great way to preserve them for travel, but is it worth getting hold of a freeze-dryer instead of just buying them ready-made? Spoiler alert, the answer’s probably YES, but in case you’d like a better breakdown of the costs of freeze-drying, check out our article here.
Reason #9: Reduce food waste
Freeze-drying isn’t just for when you’ve planned to store something. If you finish a meal and find you have plenty of leftovers, you can store them easily by freeze-drying them. This means all the effort you’ve gone to prepare your food isn’t wasted but quite the opposite, as you’ll be able to eat it even years later!
Reducing food waste is a great reason to have a freeze-dryer. You’ll not just be doing your bit for the environment, but you’ll be keeping ready-made food that you can have whenever you want, with the same great flavor.
Reason #10: To feed unexpected or long-term house guests.
A ready supply of food is always a great idea. One reason why is that this way you’ll be prepared for unexpected or long-term guests. Rather than serving canned food (which, let’s face it, isn’t always the tastiest) or food that’s been preserved in another way, freeze-dried food keeps its flavor and texture (once rehydrated).
This means you can have your guests amazed at how quickly you’ve rustled up some delicious food when in fact it was prepared literally years earlier and didn’t take any effort to re-prepare at all.
Reason #11: To save fresh or garden produce for off-season consumption
The very best and tastiest foods generally go off pretty quickly. Some say that sweetcorn, for example, should be eaten as quickly as possible, ideally in the first hour after picking! Freeze-drying can help you keep your favorite fresh foods tasting as they do normally while saving them for another time.
After all, who wouldn’t enjoy eating fresh-tasting berries in the middle of winter?!
If you grow food in your own garden, you’ll know that these are often harder to preserve than supermarket foods. A home freeze-dryer is invaluable in situations such as when there’s a large crop of strawberries that you want to keep but can’t bring yourself to eat in one sitting!
Reason #12: Store other foods for off-season consumption
Personally, I like to keep some of that extra goat milk for when my goats go dry, but there are loads of fresh products that aren’t always available, especially if you live far from retailers. Some people online have commented that they like to store niche foods as much as they can, knowing that production isn’t always consistent and that they may need to travel to get more.
Home freeze-drying is a perfect solution for these situations. Almost any water-based food (as opposed to oils) freeze-dries well. Whether that’s special lactose-free milk or a steak from your favorite butcher, freeze-drying can be used to preserve a bulk order so that you always have it ready.
Not only will you have your favorite products, but you’ll have them ready to go with the same great taste for years, without using up your valuable freezer space!
Reason #13: Beef up the regular pantry storage
As long as they’re kept in airtight containers, freeze-dried foods are safe to store in a regular pantry. They don’t need temperature controls, so even foods like steak or dairy can be kept on a shelf!
Foods lose up to 99% of their weight and size when they’re freeze-dried (dependent on their original water content), so a pantry full of freeze-dried goods can contain all the same nutritional benefits of your favorite foods while not taking up all your space or getting too heavy on for your shelves.
Add to that that you can store freeze-dried goods for far longer than other food preservation methods (even up to decades!), and once you get on the freeze-drying wagon you’ll be converted for life.
Reason #14: Keep food storage that YOU control
Once you have a home freeze dryer, your days of eating weird ration-packed meals are over. You’ll be able to create food storage that you’ll actually eat because it can be all your favorite recipes!
There’s a more important reason to create your own meals, too. When you prepare your own food, you can choose exactly what’s in it, which is great to make sure you’re only eating your favorite foods but also to control allergen exposure.
Many shop-bought long-life foods have preservatives and flavorings in them, but by preparing meals and freeze-drying them yourself you’ll be able to control exactly what goes in them. Say goodbye to overly processed mediocre meals as you’ll have all your favorite dishes made exactly how you like them.
Reason #15: Store your favorite snacks
Freeze-drying is also a great way to create your own homemade snacks. It’s even used with candies and ice cream (read our guide to doing that at home here).
Fruits freeze-dry really well, making portable delicious treats that you can eat through the day as a lighter, healthier, and cheaper alternative to the snacks that you might buy in a store.
Reason #16: To save money while being prepared
Ever seen a bargain so good that you wished you could buy it all up? Well, freeze-drying can help you do exactly that. Food can be bulk-bought and freeze-dried to extend its shelf life well beyond normal.
Once it’s freeze-dried, you won’t have to worry about it taking up valuable freezer space either, as it can be stored on an ordinary shelf or in a pantry.
The benefits of this don’t just extend to you, but to your furry companions too! We actually recommend this as a great way to preserve bulk-bought dog food to help you save money when feeding your canine companions. Read more about freeze-drying dog food here.
Reason #17: You’d rather freeze-dry than can or dehydrate
Freeze-drying is a healthier, tastier, and cleaner process than other methods of food preservation. Trust me, you’d rather do a load of freeze-drying (just pop the food on a tray than in the machine) than a batch of canning!
The results really speak for themselves – canned food often comes out watery and without the same taste as when it went in. Freeze-dried food, once rehydrated, maintains its taste and texture better than food preserved by pretty much any other method.
- We’ve got you covered with a breakdown of all the pros and cons of each method here.
- Or if you’d rather look at the differences between freeze-drying and dehydrating food? Gotcha covered there, too.
Freeze-dried food also stores for far longer, as while canned food can last a few years, freeze-dried food’s life is better measured in decades!
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Conclusion (and My Thoughts) on Needing a Freeze Dryer
Does everyone need a freeze-dryer? No, of course not. It’s not going to be right for some people or their circumstances.
But if you’re in the group of people who just want one – and it could help your family’s lifestyle or preparedness to improve? Then it’s an awesome tool to have in your toolkit.
If you are in the market to get a freeze-dryer, there’s one brand I recommend (it’s the only US-based freeze-dryer company, which makes things simple!). The freeze dryer brand I own and recommend is Harvest Right freeze dryers.
And if you don’t want to bother upgrading your electrical outlets to an oven-style outlet? Get the medium-sized one. It can be plugged into any outlet in your home, shop, or wherever you want to put the freeze dryer.
So feel free to go shop their sales or browse some more of my best freeze-drying related articles on this site. Need a good one to read next? Check out this article next. I think you’ll get a kick out of it.
It’s important to learn from your own experience, but it’s also smart to learn from others. These are the sources used in this article and in our personal research to be more informed as homesteaders.
- “Freeze-Dryer.” Backyard Homestead HQ, 2021, backyardhomesteadhq.com/category/food-storage/freeze-dryer/.
- Starr, Kimberly. “Freeze Drying vs Canning: What You Need to Know.” Backyard Homestead HQ, 30 June 2021, backyardhomesteadhq.com/freeze-drying-vs-canning-what-you-need-to-know/.
- Starr, Kimberly. “How Do Home Freeze Dryers Work? Science and Process Made Easy.” Backyard Homestead HQ, 10 Sept. 2021, backyardhomesteadhq.com/how-do-home-freeze-dryers-work-science-and-process-made-easy/.
- Starr, Kimberly. “How Much Does a Freeze Dryer Cost? 28 Examples and Factors.” Backyard Homestead HQ, 9 Sept. 2021, backyardhomesteadhq.com/how-much-does-a-freeze-dryer-cost-28-examples-and-factors/.
- Starr, Kimberly. “How to Freeze Dry Candy and Sweets at Home.” Backyard Homestead HQ, 29 July 2021, backyardhomesteadhq.com/how-to-freeze-dry-candy-and-sweets-at-home/.
- The ‘Retired at 40. Live. Life. Simple.’ YouTube channel, which has plenty of great videos about buying and using freeze-dryers. It’s worth a look – and so is my YouTube channel!
- Starr, Kimberly. “Should You Freeze Dry Dog Food? Pros, Cons, and Tips.” Backyard Homestead HQ, 9 Sept. 2021, backyardhomesteadhq.com/should-you-freeze-dry-dog-food-pros-cons-and-tips/.