Can It be done? Absolutely!
This may come as a shock to many, but you don’t need one of the big fancy freeze drying machines to actually make your own freeze dried food. Let’s discuss how you can do this at home.
There Are 2 Methods Of Freeze Drying Your Own Food
1. The Home Freezer Method
One misconception is that the freeze drying is a massively complex procedure, when in reality, you can do it in your home freezer. The only thing you need is a normal cookie sheet or cooling rack. All you need to do is place your food in small pieces and place them in your freezer. A deep freezer works best but your normal freezer will work. The food starts to freeze in the first few hours itself, but its important to note that the drying process will take weeks. This process is known as sublimation and is what separates freeze drying from simply freezing food inside of sealed bags or containers like we’re all used to doing.
The best way to check when the food is done drying is to remove a frozen piece and let it come to room temp. If the food turns dark or black, it means the drying process is still not over. Frozen food that doesn’t change color has been freeze dried thoroughly. Knowing if your food is fully freeze dried is definitely more of an art than a science and will take a trail and error process to get it right.
It is important to note that starting out with simple foods that have a high water content is the best place to start. Try things fruits like apples, berries, and bananas. Or try vegetables like broccoli and peppers. These are the easiest to do and practice on.
Once that has been achieved, you can go ahead and store the freeze dried food in ziplock bags. Freeze-dried food should be kept in storage that stays under 75 degrees.
2. Using Dry Ice
Because dry ice let’s all moisture from food evaporate very quickly, the whole process is much faster than method 1. One of the most important things is that you need to find a day where the humidity is zero, if not the process will be substantially harder. Using insulted gloves and a container at least double the size of the food you are freezing. Place the food in the container and completely cover the food with dry ice. Using a 1:1 ratio of 1 lb. of dry ice for every 1 lb. of food. DO NOT SEAL THE CONTAINER!!! It will explode because of the expanding gasses. If you have to use a lid, make sure to drill holes.
Let the process take its course and wait until there is no more dry ice in the container. The container is now completely full of carbon dioxide and free from any moisture. Do not remove the food until you are ready to place it in bags immediately. We suggest using these bags to store your food, also make sure to remove as much of the air as possible, use a vacuum sealer for best results. Pay attention to the bags and make sure no moister enters the bag, that will ruin all your hard work!
If you are dead set on doing your freeze drying from home, this could be a great option for you over spending $3,000-$4,000 on Harvest Right Freeze Drier, but if you are lucky enough to own one they can make the process much easier. If all of that sounds incredibly time consuming, not to mention expensive, you can always just let us here at Valley Food Storage do all of the hard work for you while you sit, relax and enjoy freeze dried food that tastes like you just picked it up right from the farm!