A freeze dryer vs food dehydrator: which is best?
When it comes to preserving your food for storage, it can seem like a difficult task to find the tool that’s right for the job. Luckily, in this article, we’ll be going over the freeze-drying process, the dehydration process, the differences between the two, and which is better for use in the home kitchen.
What is a Freeze Dryer?
Until recent years, the freeze-drying process couldn’t be done at home. Enter the Harvest Right Freeze Dryers. Harvest Right created a compact version of your average commercial freeze dryer to fit right in your kitchen.
A freeze dryer is a machine that drops to temperatures below freezing, and then gradually raises the internal temperature to slowly turn the water in the food into a gas and evaporate out of the food. This process still allows for the nutritional content of the food items to remain.
Harvest Right Freeze Dryers
The biggest name in the home freeze dryer game is Harvest Right. Harvest Right manufactures and sells three sizes of freeze dryers: small, medium, and large. Each is able to freeze dry a different amount of food, all for around a few thousand dollars.
Let’s take a closer look at Harvest Right’s Freeze Dryer Options:
|Freeze Dryer Sizes||Amount of Food Per Batch||Amount of Food Per Year|
All of the Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryers come with 3 vacuum pump options to choose from. These include the regular Oil Pump, the Premier Pump, and the Oil-Free Pump. The Oil Pump comes with your purchase but can be substituted by the Premier Pump (which will only need to be changed approximately every 25 batches, compared to every 5 batches with the regular Oil Pump). You can also choose to purchase the Oil-Free Pump, which will not require any changing.
What is a Food Dehydrator?
Similar to a freeze dryer, a food dehydrator uses circulating air at low temperatures to draw the moisture out of food, drying it evenly. Unlike a freeze dryer, food dehydrators don’t drop below freezing temperatures. Instead, they use relatively warm temperatures around 95 to 140 degrees Fahrenheit.
Our favorite is the COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator Machine. It has 6 stainless steel trays, comes with 50 free recipes, and it’s easy, quiet, and safe to use inside the home.
Differences Between Freeze Dryer and Food Dehydrator
While at a glance it doesn’t seem like there are many differences between a freeze dryer and food dehydrator, there are actually a few things that differentiate them. These include:
- Nutrition: Freeze dryers will retain the most amount of nutrients found in the fresh food compared to a food dehydrator. They don’t break down the vitamins and minerals like dehydrators do, though Vitamin C may lessen or be removed completely due to its delicate components. Freeze drying will retain 97% of the fresh food’s nutrition, while dehydrated food will only retain about 60%. That’s a whopping 37% difference in nutritional value, which certainly won’t bode well in a survival situation or emergency.
- Amount of Moisture: Water found in food is what leads to decomposition and mold. Both freeze dryers and food dehydrators remove the majority of the stored water in a food item to extend its shelf life. Freeze dryers remove about 99% of water, while food dehydrators remove approximately 90 to 95%.
- Shelf Life: With freeze-drying your food, you can enjoy 15 + years of shelf life for emergency preparedness or readily available snacks for up to a decade down the road. Alternatively, with a food dehydrator, you’ll have anywhere between 5 and 10 years less shelf life than that of freeze-dried foods. This gap in possibly a decade of shelf life between the two methods is especially concerning when you’re preparing for emergencies or survival situations.
- Weight: If you’re an avid camper or hiker or travel often with food from home, the weight of the food your carrying can make a huge difference. Freeze-dried food is lighter than dehydrated food, making it easier to carry and store.
- Look and Regeneration: Overall, freeze-dried food has a more fresh appearance than dehydrated food. It’s also able to re-hydrate in seconds (meals in usually 5 minutes or less), unlike dehydrated food which can take 15 or more minutes to re-hydrate, and tastes just a good as it would pre freeze-drying when it was fresh.
- Options: Dehydration has a very limited variety of foods that can be used. On the other hand, virtually any kind of food can be freeze-dried and re-hydrated later on. Meats, dairy, fruits, vegetables — anything!
Though there are a few defining differences between a freeze dryer vs food dehydrator, there is a key similarity to consider, as well: food security.
Though the shelf life between freeze-drying and dehydrating differs about a decade, both freeze-dried foods and dehydrated foods will last 10 or so years in storage. This is great news for you and your family if the unfortunate event occurs, or just as backup food if you’re running a little low during the week (and over the budget).
Storage is made easy with both of these foods, as well, as they can be packed into air-tight buckets and stowed away in your secret bunker a few miles east, or in your basement or pantry.
Freeze dryer vs food dehydrator, which is better?
After all is said and done, the freeze dryer wins by a landslide due to its versatility, shelf life, nutrition content, and quick re-hydration process. Its features are exceptionally well, especially for those that are in to emergency preparedness, and have an overall better quality, texture, and taste of food compared to that of the crunchiness of dehydrated foods.