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Freeze Drying

Can A Freeze-Dry Machine For Your Home Save You Money in the Long Run?

You may have seen some companies and influencers promoting the use of a freeze-dry machine for the home. They say freeze-drying lets you keep and use more of your fresh produce, better than traditional pickling or canning. They claim that you’ll minimise food waste and maximise the number of meals you can get out of them — thus, increasing your savings and the power of your dollar.

But how realistic is this? Do the long-term benefits of DIY freeze-dried family meals exceed the cost and effort to create them? Since Flo-Max is one of Australia’s foremost authorities on freeze-drying, we’re here to set the record straight.

The Benefits of A Home Freeze-Drying Machine

First, let’s take a look at the undeniable benefits of using a home freeze-drying machine.

Bulk buying seasonal ingredients

snacks meals freeze dry at home
Freeze-dried fruits stay plump and fresh for months.

Having a freeze-drying machine at home empowers you to purchase fresh produce in bulk and during peak seasons when prices are lower.

You can freeze-dry all those seasonal ingredients for future use. You can take full advantage of the price fluctuations and have a fresh supply of your favourite foods any time of the year, without worrying about spoilage.

Reducing food waste

no food waste freeze drying leftovers
By eliminating spoilage, freeze-drying can help you squeeze out more nutritious meals per month from the same amount of food.

While a considerable amount of household expenses go to food, a significant portion of that also ends up in the garbage. Australians discard as much as 20% of the food they purchase or an average of $1,036 worth of wasted food per year, which is close to the average Australian household’s monthly income.

Freeze-drying at home would be one way you could preserve both pre-prepped meals and leftovers for later use, with little loss of nutrition. This significantly reduces the amount of food thrown away and increases the number of meals you can get out of your supplies.

Customised variety and convenience

DIY freeze dried meals snacks drinks smoothies
Concoct and freeze-dry your own ready-to-drink smoothie cubes.

As a food preservation method, freeze-drying is a faster process than old-fashioned pickling or canning. So being able to do it yourself gives you the freedom to preserve and customise your pantry much faster.

You can freeze-dry food ingredients in almost any form or combination, even as partial or complete meals. This means you can design your frozen stocks to suit your schedule, lifestyle and cooking habits. You can create DIY freeze-dried drinks, snacks and meals that are both nutritious and up to your specific taste. Whether it’s powdered vegetable-fruit shakes or ready-to-cook meal components, the ability to dry your food opens up a myriad of snacking and meal-prep options.

This personalization ensures that your stored food is something your family will enjoy consuming, unlike store-bought freeze-dried meals.

freeze dried camping food sweet rice fruit porridge
Freeze-dried sweet rice porridge with peaches makes a quick, delicious and nutritious breakfast.

You can also cater to specific dietary needs or health concerns.

For instance, if you are a vegetarian and love to go camping, you can pre-cut and freeze-dry your grains, fruits and vegetables expressly for your trips. Cooking your meals outdoors then becomes extremely easy. You only need to set up camp, build a fire, and heat the freeze-dried ingredients by throwing them together in a pot or mug.

Or if you’re a busy diabetic and have a pet dog to care for, freeze-drying pet food and low-carb vegan meals means both you and your dog can stay healthy with less effort. This is a significant improvement in your quality of life.

Healthier eating

healthy eating freeze dried superfoods blueberry powder
Freeze-drying retains more nutrients in superfoods like blueberries for longer periods.

Home freeze-drying retains approximately 97% of the nutritional value of the food, making it a superior preservation method compared to canning or dehydrating.

You can also avoid purchasing and consuming food with preservatives. Even natural preservatives like salt, sugar and oils can be detrimental to your health when foods that are stored with them are consumed often. This becomes especially true if you or your family have issues with weight, cholesterol or blood sugar management.

Having complete personal control over the process enables you and your family to enjoy the maximum nutritional benefits from your meals with less to worry about. You’ll have more control over your family’s health. You can even lower your healthcare costs in the long run.

Emergency Preparedness

food security freeze drying at home
If you live in an area prone to disruptions from natural disasters, a small supply of freeze-dried meals and snacks is useful.

Having a stockpile of freeze-dried food ensures that you are prepared for emergencies. Aside from freeing you from worrying over food spoilage or constant menu rotation, freeze-dried food stocks also serve as a buffer in times of crisis, such as:

  • temporary job loss or income reduction
  • an increasingly busy work-home schedule
  • limited mobility or confinement due to aging, illness or injury
  • temporary halts in food stocks at supermarkets due to natural calamities (e.g., earthquakes, storms, bushfires)

The Downside to Freeze-Drying at Home

But before you go buy a freeze-dry machine for yourself, there are some major issues you also need to consider.

An expensive initial investment

A small freeze-drying machine with the capacity to handle 4 to 10 kilograms of food at a time is an appropriate size for a family of 4. Appliances of that size already cost several thousand dollars or more. Unless you’re willing to spend that much upfront, it won’t be an option for you.

Additional equipment (for sealing and storage)

proper storage of freeze dried food
Common practice: store freeze-dried food with oxygen absorber packets inside a resealable Mylar bag.

By itself, freeze-dried food does not last long. Once exposed to air, it draws in any available moisture like a sponge. In a short time, the food rehydrates, encourages the growth of harmful microorganisms, and begins to spoil.

To avoid this, you must seal the food in special containers, such as Mylar bags, glass Mason jars, or air-tight storage with oxygen absorbers. Even better, use a proper vacuum sealer.

More electricity and insulation

A freeze-dryer preserves food by forcing the water in it to evaporate. It achieves that by flash-freezing and reducing air pressure. Those two processes require the use of strong air pumps to create a vacuum and control temperature — and so need a lot of electricity to operate. Thus, if you’re set on operating a freeze-dry machine in your home, be prepared for an increase in your electricity bill.

You will also need to designate a room or corner that insulates the rest of your house from a freeze-drying machine’s noise or heat. While some of these appliances come with quieter pumps, even the smallest units will generate enough noise and heat to disturb other members of your household. (Especially in a small house or apartment.)

proper vacuum sealing food
A vacuum-sealer is useful for storing both fresh and freeze-dried items.

Experience and proper management

Moreover, different foods have different shelf lives, even when freeze-dried. To avoid wasting food, you need to have the right knowledge and experience to plan your meals according to when specific supplies should be consumed.

No guaranteed long-term savings

Even when you break down the purchase cost of a freeze-dry machine over its lifespan, you still have to deal with all other expenses involved in creating and managing freeze-dried food (e.g., electricity). More often than not, these don’t result in net savings for a typical household.

When A Home Freeze-Drying Machine Is Useful

small scale freeze dryer Australia
One of Flo-Max’s smaller freeze-dryer models. Flo-Max is a leading manufacturer of freeze-dryers in Australia.  

But if you still want the luxury of freeze-drying at home and can afford it, here are a few example situations where a home freeze-drying machine would make sense:

  • A strict vegetarian or vegan diet. If you have a busy schedule and must keep to a nutritious fresh or raw plant-based diet for health reasons, freeze-drying all your vegetables and fruits at home will make your lifestyle more convenient.
  • Gourmet pantry. If you have a large family with a foreign culinary heritage far from the country you currently live in, getting ingredients from your original homeland that are seldom available elsewhere (e.g., pandan leaves, epazote, ashwagandha, rare coffee bean varieties) can be difficult. So when you do get your hands on a batch of imported herbs, fruits or vegetables, you’ll want to keep them in the freshest state for as long as possible. This can be done through proper freeze-drying.
  • Homesteading or self-sufficiency farming. If you have a small family farm or grow much of your own food in your garden, freeze-drying could be a useful supplementary preservation method to canning, pickling and sun-drying your harvests.

In summary

In short, a freeze-dry machine for your home is a luxury. No matter how wonderful its benefits are, using it often won’t lower your family’s cost of food and save lots of money in the long run. It also requires you to gain expertise in operating the freeze dryer machine and how to properly store your freeze dried items.

However, if you want to have all the conveniences that freeze-drying at home can give you, we are here to help. We have a range of small-scale freeze dryers suitable for home use, and we have the decades-long expertise to guide you towards making that lifestyle more sustainable. Contact the friendly Flo-Max team and we’ll help you find the perfect freeze-dry machine for you.

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