If you are trying to figure out the best way to build a long-term emergency food storage, you should consider getting a freeze dryer. It’s no secret we are having problems with our food supply in the US. There have been food shortages, supply-chain issues, and the threat of rising costs. And it has many people asking… what’s the best way to safely and efficiently create a long-term food supply for their family?
I am grateful every day that my husband and I decided to start our emergency food storage. About 5 years ago we looked into freeze-dried foods as a way to supplement our other food preservation methods. At first, we bought our freeze-dried food from a well-known company. And we ended up spending quite a bit of money! Then we crunched the numbers and realized how much we could save buying our own freeze dryer for home use.
Food Preservation is Becoming Extremely Important
It has become apparent to more and more people that they cannot always rely on the grocery store to feed their families. Most grocery stores actually only have 3 days worth of food on their shelves. I know it sounds crazy right?!? But I can attest to this when March 2020 rolled around and I started to notice key foods were missing from my local grocery store shelves. For many people, it was a huge wake-up call.
Many moms are starting to realize how important the traditional skill of food preservation is. Something that our grandmothers and great-grandmothers saw as a normal part of keeping their families fed. It became very clear to me when I noticed that canning supplies were whizzing off the shelves of my local Walmart in summer 2020. And most lids are still difficult to find over a year later.
The problem is that although it is awesome that so many are wanting to learn to can, many are getting bad information on how to do it. This can actually be dangerous. Botulism anyone? So what is the best way to create a long-term food supply for your family?
Not All Food Preservation Methods Are Created Equal
- Canning: Home canning is a great way to preserve your harvest if done safely. If you do not use safe canning methods you can seriously risk your family’s health. Botulism is a serious issue when it comes to home canning and can be avoided by using safe recipes and methods. Ideally, canned foods should be used within a year. That’s why I recommend it for short-term food storage.
- Dehydrating: Dehydrating is great for certain foods. I actually make beef jerky using a dehydrator. The issue with dehydrating is that it doesn’t get all of the moisture out of food. So I would also consider this a short-term food storage method. If food is packaged properly it can be stored for up to 4 years.
- Smoking: Smoking meats and cheeses is one of my new favorite ways to preserve. I absolutely love making my own smoked salmon at home. It tastes amazing! But again it is also more of a short-term method of preserving. But honestly, the smoked meats I make usually don’t last that long before they get eaten.
- Freezing: Storing food in a deep freezer is a great way to maintain nutrients and taste. The problem with freezing your foods is that you can end up with freezer burn if the food isn’t properly packaged. And the dreaded power outage can create not only a huge mess but tons of wasted food and money.
- Freeze Drying: Freeze drying gives you the benefits of a freezer without all the drawbacks. On top of that, you can store the food you freeze-dry for up to 25 years if you properly package it. The initial investment of a freeze dryer can be a little daunting. But I can honestly say our freeze-dryer paid for itself in less than a year with the amount of food and meals we were able to preserve. Some people have spent almost $4000 on a year’s worth of freeze-dried meals for a family of 4.
Why Should You Buy a Freeze Dryer for Your Home?
What are the Benefits of Freeze Drying?
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- Cost-Effective: Yes, there is a hefty up-front cost to buying a freeze dryer for your home. But if you were to buy a year’s supply of freeze-dried food for your family it would cost much more.
- Safe: Once you have processed your food in the freeze-dryer and have packaged it in mylar bags with an oxygen absorber your food is protected from all kinds of issues. If you use common kitchen safety like not mixing uncooked meats with produce it is perfectly safe. I also recommend you label your freeze-dried foods clearly, indicating what is raw and what is cooked.
- Best for Long-Term Storage: Hands-down freeze-dried foods, properly stored, last longer than any other preservation method. Most foods can be stored for up to 25 years and will taste just as good as the day you processed them. Your food will also maintain its natural texture, taste, and nutrients.
- Better Tasting: Because you are using your own foods you control the quality and taste. I love that I can preserve my garden produce and it will taste a look as amazing as the day I processed it. If you make your own meals, you get to control the ingredients and use the recipes your family loves.
- Variety of Foods: I love that I can freeze dry produce, meats, and dairy all with the same machine. The only thing I recommend against freeze-drying is foods with extremely high sugar content or fatty foods. I also recommend only freeze-drying shredded or diced meat (it just seems to rehydrate better).
- Maintains Nutrients: Using a freeze dryer to preserve your food is hands down the best way to preserve all those wonderful nutrients. Most other preserving methods require heating which is the natural enemy of the vitamins and nutrients in any food. We all know that eating a carrot straight out of the garden is way better for you than eating a boiled carrot. Because you are freezing instead of cooking with a freeze dryer it is the closest thing to fresh-picked!
- Great for Camping and Hiking: Another great benefit to getting a freeze dryer for your home is that you can make your own hiking/camping food. Because all of the moisture is removed from your food when you freeze dry your food becomes extremely lightweight. Which of course makes it ideal to carry in a pack. It also can be easily rehydrated with a little boiling water.
- Takes up Less Storage Space: Freeze-dried foods should be stored in mylar bags to stay good for up to 25 years. This makes them much lighter and more compact than say home-canned goods. They also don’t take up space in your freezer. We like to keep ours in totes, and you would not believe how many bags I can get in one tote!
- Easy to Do: I always say if I can learn to use a freeze dryer, anyone can. Once you get a few cycles under your belt, it really is no different than using your oven. Honestly, I feel like it is easier than canning. And if you buy a Harvest Right freeze dryer for your home they have great videos and articles on their website to help you out.
Freeze Dryer for Home: Part of Your Emergency Preparedness Plan
Aaron and I bought a Harvest Right freeze dryer ultimately because we knew it could be part of our emergency preparedness plan. We knew we could preserve our harvest for the long term and create some amazing freeze-dried meals! We absolutely love it and the fact that it paid for itself within the first year was a bonus. We also know that no matter what kind of emergency comes our way we’ll be able to have great food on hand to get through it if we need to.