All Harvest Right Freeze Dryers come with the basic equipment that you need to get started building your food storage pantry. There are are few additional items that you will need to successfully complete your first freeze dry run. You will want to get these 4 items before your freeze dryer is delivered (or at least before you start your first cycle).
Purchase Your Own Freeze-Dryer
I do need to disclose that I am an affiliate partner with Harvest Right. That means that if you purchase a home freezer by clicking on a link from my website I will be compensated. It won’t cost you more and you will be helping me. However, I would recommend the Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer even if I wasn’t being compensated. My husband and I have been sharing our love of this freeze dryer, as well as freeze-dried goodies, with our friends and family for years. We bought our freeze-dryer before they offered different colors or sizes!
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What You Need to Have Before You Start
- A Sturdy Cart or Counter to Hold the Freeze Dryer
|Small Freeze Dryer||61 lbs||16.5″ W x 18.5″ D x 25″ H|
|Medium Freeze Dryer||112 lbs||18″ W x 21.25″ D x 28.5″ H|
|Large Freeze Dryer||138 lbs||20.25″ W x 23.75″ D x 30.75″ H|
|Oil Pump Included||35 lbs||10.5″ H x 16″ D x 5.75″ W|
|Premier Pump||32 lbs||16.3″ H x 6″ D x 12.1″ W|
|Oil Free Pump||42 lbs||19″ H x 10″ D x 10″ W|
I recommend a heavy-duty stainless steel table. Below is the table that I have used since 2014 and I haven’t had any sagging issues. If you have space for a table this size, the larger surface area allows room for trays going in or coming out of the freeze dryer.
To place the standard pump next to a medium freeze dryer you will need a surface a minimum of 28″ W x 22″ D. If you don’t have a Sam’s Club membership to purchase the table that I have, Uline is a great source for tables and carts.
- Bucket to drain water after the cycle is complete (3-5 Gallon)
The amount of water that is drained after the cycle will almost always be less than 3 gallons but I’ve never wanted to chance having the bucket overflow so I use a 5 gallon bucket.
- Replacement pump oil depending on your type of vacuum pump
Even if you are going to filter and re-use oil you will need to have replacement oil on hand for your first oil change. I recommend buying your oil from Harvest Right to ensure that you are using a product that they know works well with their freeze dryer.
- 1 quart container to drain the oil into after the cycle is complete
Any container will work for this process.
- Large Unit Only:110 volt (NEMA 5-20) outlet. Dedicated 20 amp circuit required.
This is something to consider when deciding which size freeze dryer is right for you. I have the medium freeze dryer and it is the perfect size and doesn’t require any additional wiring.
Optional Items That Will Save You Time
Freeze drying at home can seem expensive and overwhelming at first, especially when you consider all of the items that follow. However, I want to encourage you to start slow and simple, then add products as they become necessary. Bookmark this page and come back to it after you have successfully freeze dried a few batches of food.
Time Saving Prep Items
- Silicone Molds – For pre-freezing liquids and for portion control. Silicone molds are especially useful when you are giving freeze dried food as gifts or are selling your food. Just make sure that the molds are small so that your food is freeze dried all the way through. Liquids that are too thick won’t be able to get dry in the center or may take a long time to dry. My favorite mold is the large gummy bear mold. I have used it to freeze dry jello, pudding, and cranberry yogurt for medicinal purposes.
- Parchment Paper or Silicone Mats from Harvest Right – Place on your stainless steel trays for easy clean-up. I use parchment paper because the silicone mats weren’t available when I first started freeze drying so that’s what I’m used to. The good thing about parchment paper is that it can be thrown away after use, but the silicone mats still have to be cleaned. The bad thing about parchment paper is that you have to continually buy it so it’s an added cost that you won’t have with the silicone mats. Sometimes I don’t use either and the trays clean off easily.
- Ziplock Bags – For pre-freezing anything, including liquids. I try to pre-freeze as much as possible on the trays. It speeds up the process of going from freezer to freeze dryer. However, sometimes I prep more food than I have trays, or my trays won’t fit in the freezer. I also like to use ziplock bags for freezing individual portions of a food. I will cover this more in-depth in my upcoming course Freeze Dry University: Start with the Basics.
- Additional Stainless Steel Trays – Pre-freeze food while you have a batch in the freeze dryer. As mentioned before, you will save time if you pre-freeze directly on the trays rather than in bags. I have 2 sets of the medium stainless steel trays and 3 sets of the smaller 9″x7″ trays. The smaller trays fit in my stand up freezer so I use those more often. I also like the flexibility of the smaller trays if I’m freeze drying multiple types of food.
- Kitchen Cutting Gadgets – As you begin to freeze dry foods that you enjoy, you will know which tools you need to speed up your prep time. Chances are you already have the cutting tools that you need because you are already preparing the foods that you are freeze drying. However, I find that foods that I normally cut with a knife when cooking dinner require faster tools when preparing them for freeze drying because of the increased quantity that I needed to cut. Example: I may peel and cut 3 potatoes for dinner but I will peel and cut 5 lbs of potatoes to freeze dry. So I always use a multifunctional food chopper when I’m cutting potatoes, carrots, onions, and many other foods.
- Blender or Food Processor – The main food that I use a blender for is to prepare eggs to freeze dry. I crack 18 eggs directly into the blender, pulse to scramble, then pour them into a regular sized tray to pre-freeze. I also often use my blender to powder foods after they have been freeze dried. I have heard of fellow freeze dryers who use a Ninja Foodi to blend or chop their food. It is on my wish list!
- Kitchen Scale – Weigh food before and after to get re-hydrating amounts. If you know how much water was removed, you will know how much water to put back in. At first, you may also find it helpful to weigh your trays so that you ensure that you aren’t overloading them. Overloading your trays will increase drying time and often cause problems with food getting completely dry. I will go into great detail in my course Freeze Dry University: Start with the Basics.
- Tray Separators – Save freezer space by stacking trays on top of each other. I use pizza box stands but there are some really great tray dividers that my fellow freeze dryers make with 3D printers.
- Stand Up Freezer – Dedicated to your pre-frozen prepped food. A common obstacle to freeze drying is having enough freezer space. It’s not like your regular frozen food that is in bags and can be stacked and pushed around. When pre-freezing food to go into the freeze dryer you will want to either freeze directly on the tray, in a silicone mold, or in a ziplock bag laid flat. I found a great deal on a freezer at Sam’s Club and finally got my dedicated freezer! The only drawback to this freezer is that the trays that come with the medium freeze dryer don’t fit so I have to use the small ones that I ordered from Amazon. If you have the space and the money I would recommend finding a freezer that will hold the full-size trays.
Time Saving Storage Items
Your freeze dryer comes with 50 mylar bags and oxygen absorbers. Those will last a while and when you are ready to purchase more you can get them from Harvest Right or from Discount Mylar Bags. Make sure to only get the 7 mil thickness to keep your food safe from air, water, and light. Mylar bags are the best option for long term food storage. The following items are optional but will save time and give some flexibility to your storage options.
- French Fry Scoop – Any large scoop that gets food off of the tray and into a mylar bag or mason jar.
- Mason Jars – Good for short term storage or gifts. Light will break down the fats, proteins, and vitamins in your food. I like to fill a mason jar with a few servings inside and put the rest in mylar bags. This gives me a few servings to use in meal preparation and a larger quantity for long term storage. Have several sizes on hand in regular and wide mouth.
- Canning Funnel – Easily fill Mason jars without spilling and of the food. This is especially useful when fill jars with powdered foods like eggs, dairy, and fruit.
- Food Saver with Jar Sealer – Vacuum seal jars with attachment or vacuum seal individual servings for pre-freezing. An alternative to ziplock bags. The freeze dryer will also vacuum seal jars but it’s not as convenient as using this machine with the attachment.
Changing the oil in your standard and premier vacuum pump is a necessary maintenance activity. Depending on which pump you choose will depend on how often you will need to change the oil. The following items will help you more successfully change your oil.
- Water Separator – Many members of the freeze drying community are using this water separating funnel. I don’t have one so I can’t recommend it but they all say it works. A small amount of water will be in your oil when you drain it from your pump. It is necessary to eliminate this water before filtering the oil. I drain my oil into a 1 quart container, let it sit for about 30 minutes to allow the water to settle, then put the container in the freezer. The water freezes at the bottom and can be removed after you pour the oil out.
- Brita Filter Pitcher – An alternative to the filter that comes with the freeze dryer. Harvest Right didn’t include a filter way back when I purchased my freeze dryer. For years I just used new oil every time I changed it because I didn’t know that I could filter it. I will show you how I filter my oil with a Brita Pitcher in my upcoming course:
I hope that this list will give you some time-saving tips and tools that will make your freeze drying easier and faster. If this list seems overwhelming because you haven’t even purchased your freeze dryer yet, I encourage you to start with my introduction to freeze drying call How To Save Money Freeze Drying. After you sign up you will be taken to a page offering The Complete Freeze Dryer Buyer’s Guide. This is the perfect resource to help in your buying decisions. You will also get several free goodies via email that will help you along your freeze drying journey so be sure to check your inbox.