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View Full Version : Harvest Right Freeze Dryer - my results



PennyPincher
10-28-2016, 20:21
So finally got the Harvest Right freeze dryer and ready to start the first batch. DH set it up the other day and last night looking over the directions and checking to see what all was done, I noticed the il level on the pump was a little low. He topped it off and I said "don't fill it up too much." Not that I knew anything. So today I was doing the prechecks and one of the things you do is make sure your pump is working right and SPLOOSH! Oil all over the place. So now I'm kind of freaked out. I'm looking through the booklet to see what could have possibly gone wrong. And yep, too much oil in the pump and it will end up getting vented out the "exhaust." So I cleaned that all up and went through the checks again (after trying but failing to find some way to take out the excess oil - didn't want to use the drain). But this time I was ready! I had my hand on the button in case it happened again, the area draped off to keep the carpet clean, and paper towels in hand. This time, good to go!

So I started the freeze cycle on the machine to get it cold - required for frozen foods - as I was going to be putting homemade ice cream (no sugar, we use monk fruit to sweeten it) in. 2 trays of ice cream, 1 tray of sweet potatoes, and 1 tray of cooked scrambled eggs (15 large eggs). After putting the trays in I restarted the cycle and it's nearly done with the 9 hours of freeze time. After this it will draw a vacuum on the machine and start the drying cycle (a process where it slightly warms the food so the moisture can sublimate out and then refreezes it).

The food should be ready to come out sometime tomorrow morning.


PS. before I posted this it was time for the freeze cycle to end. Thankfully I grabbed some paper towels "just in case" because the oil did come out of the exhaust again. Not as bad as before but I'm glad I was there. So now it's started it's drying cycle and the pressure is dropping? very well. At 5 minutes in it was already at 335 mTorr, so vacuum achieved!

I will keep y'all updated!

Sarcasm the elf
10-28-2016, 21:00
Very cool! I'm looking forward to hearing how this works out.

PennyPincher
10-28-2016, 21:12
Very cool! I'm looking forward to hearing how this works out.
Me too! LOL

ADVStrom14
10-28-2016, 21:29
Awesome! I'm looking forward to hearing too. I want one of these SO BAD!!!

scrabbler
10-28-2016, 21:52
So cool, love the blow by blow details here! Watching for results ....

theinfamousj
10-28-2016, 22:56
Following in eager anticipation!

PennyPincher
10-29-2016, 19:47
SO the first batch is out. After about 26 hours the sweet potatoes and scrambled eggs were done. We put the ice cream back in for a couple more hours. That basically turned to dust when we scooped it off the trays. But very tasty dust! DH tried the sweet potatoes and liked them (without rehydrating). I think I will try the eggs for breakfast tomorrow. This machine is fantastic!

36745

k3nden
10-29-2016, 20:30
I look forward to reading about your results. I wish i had access to a FD. More pictures please....

egilbe
10-30-2016, 10:35
SO the first batch is out. After about 26 hours the sweet potatoes and scrambled eggs were done. We put the ice cream back in for a couple more hours. That basically turned to dust when we scooped it off the trays. But very tasty dust! DH tried the sweet potatoes and liked them (without rehydrating). I think I will try the eggs for breakfast tomorrow. This machine is fantastic!

36745

those jars are going to be heavy carrying them in your pack :D

PennyPincher
10-31-2016, 11:13
So this morning I measured out my eggs, put them in a bag similar to what we will be using when we hike and added boiling water. While I should have let them rehydrate a little longer (patience may not be my strongest suit) they actually came out very good. I dumped off the extra water, added some salt and pepper and ate up. They had great "form" and good texture, which I believe would have improved if I had used a little more patience in the rehydrating phase. I was using too wide a bag at 11" wide as that's what I had on hand. a 6" or 8" wide bag would have been much better I think for the purposes of rehydrating.

Deadeye
10-31-2016, 20:28
Just using back-of-the-napkin math, I'm thinking you'd need to prepare 400+ meals for the investment in a freeze dryer begin to pay off. Less if you take into account the fun factor. That means I have to plan on a thru so I can get one!

ADVStrom14
10-31-2016, 21:10
Just using back-of-the-napkin math, I'm thinking you'd need to prepare 400+ meals for the investment in a freeze dryer begin to pay off. Less if you take into account the fun factor. That means I have to plan on a thru so I can get one!

If you think about it, it's not quite that much. I know in my case I lose a lot of produce because I can't cook/use it all in time. I have delusions of grandeur when it comes to cooking each week) So if you bought some on sale and freeze dried it you can use it for years to come if stored properly so you can really save some money in spoiled food as well. Also with freeze dried meat not requiring freezing you can save money on frost bitten meat that got lost in the freezer. ...or am I the only one that does that?! :eek: :D

FreeGoldRush
10-31-2016, 21:21
SO the first batch is out. After about 26 hours the sweet potatoes and scrambled eggs were done. We put the ice cream back in for a couple more hours. That basically turned to dust when we scooped it off the trays. But very tasty dust! DH tried the sweet potatoes and liked them (without rehydrating). I think I will try the eggs for breakfast tomorrow. This machine is fantastic!

36745

We have a Harvest Right freeze dryer. It should be the perfect solution for hiker food. Eating healthy on the trail seems to be a challenge. With a freeze dryer you can bring just about whatever you want while leaving all the water weight at home.

PennyPincher
10-31-2016, 21:33
Just using back-of-the-napkin math, I'm thinking you'd need to prepare 400+ meals for the investment in a freeze dryer begin to pay off. Less if you take into account the fun factor. That means I have to plan on a thru so I can get one!

Well that won't be a problem. We plan on doing a thru in a few years but also, due to recent dietary changes, we find it very hard to eat out at all. So we will use it for being able to travel easier. Not to mention all the shorter backpacking trips between now and our thru and after that. We also have always liked to make sure we have a good supply of food on hand for emergencies so we will be stocking it for emergencies as well. We also look at it as an investment in our health.

Just for a thru we will need approximately 420 breakfasts (210 for each), lunches and dinners for a total of 1,260 meals!

Deadeye
11-01-2016, 09:21
Well that won't be a problem. We plan on doing a thru in a few years but also, due to recent dietary changes, we find it very hard to eat out at all. So we will use it for being able to travel easier. Not to mention all the shorter backpacking trips between now and our thru and after that. We also have always liked to make sure we have a good supply of food on hand for emergencies so we will be stocking it for emergencies as well. We also look at it as an investment in our health.

Just for a thru we will need approximately 420 breakfasts (210 for each), lunches and dinners for a total of 1,260 meals!

Yeah, I was actually thinking this makes more sense than I originally thought. I was really only thinking of dinners, but I do the occasional breakfast, too. And plenty of weekends, and all those strawberries, and...

PennyPincher
11-01-2016, 10:06
One of my favorite parts of the FD is that I can set it and "forget it." I do a lot of pressure canning too and while it's a few hours each batch (as opposed to 24+ in the FD) with prep and processing and cooling to the point where I can take the jars out of the PC, I can't leave it for more than a few minutes. With the FD there is NOTHING for me to do once I start it up other than occasionally taking a peak at the control panel to see how it's progressing out of curiosity. I can even leave it and it can finish when I am not around and no worries as it goes into a hold pattern. We did not eat the sweet potatoes last night. We will by the end of the week I am sure but I really have no doubt that it will taste great. I am hoping to run another batch of trials this week.

rocketsocks
11-01-2016, 11:55
Freeze dry coffee beans and roll in chocolate...you'll never feel another thing.

Venchka
11-01-2016, 12:20
Have you figured out how long it will take to produce those 1,260 meals?
Having just found organic dark chocolate at Walmart and grass fed beef jerky at a small grocery store in the East Texas wilderness, I still believe that you are overstating your new dietary limitations.
However, I'm old and I'm slow. Pay no attention to me.
Wayne


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PennyPincher
11-03-2016, 22:50
36834

3 eggs scrambled, 1.9oz. 2.3 oz with packaging. I'm thinking I will need to use larger bags. This is 8"x10". I like the 8"width. Last time I tested I used an 11" wide bag - too wide. But this bag is likely too short. This was a bag cut from a roll. I think this one will rehydrate better because the pieces are smaller than last time. Husband is the guinea pig in the morning.

Venchka
11-04-2016, 16:13
I saw the unit in a tv commercial. Looks like you could do several meals in a cycle.
Hope it all works out for Y'all.
Wayne


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PennyPincher
11-04-2016, 17:59
DH liked the eggs well enough. Texture is a little "off" from fresh cooked obviously. And he usually likes mushrooms and cheese with his eggs but I had not put that in this trial batch. The next batches will have mushrooms for him and various mixes for me and him. I love home made ground sausage and a variety of veg in mine, and I like variety, where he will literally eat eggs with mushrooms and cheese every single day. These are definitely a winner and will be great for the trail!

Venchka
11-04-2016, 19:42
I recently tested the Mountain House Breakfast Skillet at home. The test subjects were my 12 year old grandson and I. We liked it. 12 year olds rarely eat something they've never seen before.
You might want to get this and a few other MH meals to see how they prepare various foods for freeze dried meals. Walmart sells individual servings. Adequate quantity for testing and not terribly expensive.
Wayne


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PennyPincher
11-04-2016, 19:54
I recently tested the Mountain House Breakfast Skillet at home. The test subjects were my 12 year old grandson and I. We liked it. 12 year olds rarely eat something they've never seen before.
You might want to get this and a few other MH meals to see how they prepare various foods for freeze dried meals. Walmart sells individual servings. Adequate quantity for testing and not terribly expensive.
Wayne


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I have some actually. Was using them as reference for rehydrating instructions. Used to eat these a lot when hiking according to an old hiking journal I was rereading last night. I won't eat them anymore unless I have an emergency before I actually get stocked up on my own meals.


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Wise Old Owl
11-04-2016, 20:19
More important - you need to figure out how many calories you are delivering per meal and keeping it tasty. A 90 calorie breakfast won't cut it for any trail. I know that may be odd to say as I am not so hungry the first week but I get hit over the head about 6-10 days in. Keeping it tasty... well change it up with different spices and other items such as chopped fine peppers to add flavor for example.

I would add fresh bacon bits & real grated Vermont Cheddar to the scrambled eggs for one bag, a Eggs Benedict home made sauce with bits of ham & broken up toasted muffin for separate meal in another bag for example... Yea I get bored easily.

PennyPincher
11-04-2016, 21:09
More important - you need to figure out how many calories you are delivering per meal and keeping it tasty. A 90 calorie breakfast won't cut it for any trail. I know that may be odd to say as I am not so hungry the first week but I get hit over the head about 6-10 days in. Keeping it tasty... well change it up with different spices and other items such as chopped fine peppers to add flavor for example.

I would add fresh bacon bits & real grated Vermont Cheddar to the scrambled eggs for one bag, a Eggs Benedict home made sauce with bits of ham & broken up toasted muffin for separate meal in another bag for example... Yea I get bored easily.

I so hear what you are saying but 3 large eggs are 210 calories before adding fat, veg, meat and cheese. Which still isn't a ton if you are hiking. Yet since we started eating this way we haven't had time to hike but will likely start weekends this month. Our lunches and dinners will be more substantial and we have calorie packed snacks. When we get a chance to do more than a 2-3 day hike we will really work it out as our hunger doesn't usually kick in for about 4 days.


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PennyPincher
11-27-2016, 13:09
So it's been a while since I ran a load because I sliced off a huge chunk of my finger which required stitches. The pain of actually keeping my finger out of the way of everything was something I didn't anticipate. It made the simplest of tasks difficult, time consuming and tiring. I couldn't clean dishes well due to trying to keep my finger dry, the pain, and the coordination as I did this to my dominant hand. I also record my podcast on Tuesdays so I can't have my machine running while I'm recording and it's not something you can really shut off and then turn back on. My microphone picks up noises very well. I often pick up sounds from the street when large trucks go past but I can edit that out or pause recording.

But things are looking up and I just put this batch in. This batch - green peppers and onions (yep, need more) Fajita chicken, spanish "rice" aka cauliflower, and then pork stuffed peppers. I need more peppers and onions as well as spanish rice but I will get that on the next batch.

37193

PennyPincher
11-28-2016, 14:45
So just over 24 hours in the FD and I have another batch of food. I screwed up and didn't weigh any of the food before putting it on the trays. And then I didn't take a picture of all the trays before I started packing it up. The chicken started out as 2.5 lbs before we cooked it and ate dinner the night before loading the trays for the FD. So maybe 1.5 lbs on the tray?
This is the full tray of fajita seasoned chicken:
37197

The chicken that didn't get packaged individually weighed in at just over 8 ounces. It was this whole tray plus a little as I only packaged 2 individual meals for my backpacking trip as I had a very small amount of peppers and onions left over, otherwise I would have done 3 or 4 individual meals. The individual meals I "eyeballed" when packing and then weighed the packages after. They were 2.6 ounces and 2.7 ounces respectively.



37198

Next up is the tray of pork stuffed peppers. This started out as 4 peppers. Didn't weigh it ahead of time. Total weight after FDing was 4.1 ounces. I made this into 2 individual meals.
3719937200

The Spanish "rice" (cauliflower) I "eyeballed" for serving size. Most of these were 0.4-0.5 ounces. I ended up with 5 servings but thinking those will be rather small so I will likely bring extra sides and maybe make 3 servings into 2.
3720137202

I figure at this rate plus breakfast was just over 2 ounces, I can carry 3 real meals a day for at most 10 ounces, packaged. That would mean 7 days of food would only weigh 4.375lbs! This doesn't account for nuts and other "snacks" I might carry but this is INSANELY UL! Even if I had to carry twice as much food for 7 days, not an issue!

garlic08
11-28-2016, 18:39
...I can carry 3 real meals a day for at most 10 ounces, packaged. That would mean 7 days of food would only weigh 4.375lbs! This doesn't account for nuts and other "snacks" I might carry but this is INSANELY UL! Even if I had to carry twice as much food for 7 days, not an issue!

Three meals for a hiker should be at least 2,500 calories (I carry 4,000+ per day and stay pretty hungry at that). Ten ounces gross weight per day would have to exceed 250 cal/oz to get there, which is pretty much impossible even for pure fat. So you'll really need to add quite a bit of "nuts and other snacks" to fill what I believe would be a deficit.

Dogwood
11-28-2016, 19:03
I'm available as a free taste tester. :D

Dogwood
11-28-2016, 19:14
Three meals for a hiker should be at least 2,500 calories (I carry 4,000+ per day and stay pretty hungry at that). Ten ounces gross weight per day would have to exceed 250 cal/oz to get there, which is pretty much impossible even for pure fat. So you'll really need to add quite a bit of "nuts and other snacks" to fill what I believe would be a deficit.

Indeed. No mega wt one meal or mega calorie one meal wonders for me on trail either. I aim for the same approach off trail. Most of my trail food wt and calories comes from grazing on snacks regularly through the hiking period. I try to avoid insulin spikes and energy crashes. Eating a heavy meal or excessively high calorie meal means excessive energy goes to digesting and assimilating the food and usually results in discomfort. If done as the last food of the day before going to sleep for myself I know it interrupts my deep sleep patterns.

Dogwood
11-28-2016, 19:33
I figure at this rate plus breakfast was just over 2 ounces, I can carry 3 real meals a day for at most 10 ounces, packaged. That would mean 7 days of food would only weigh 4.375lbs! This doesn't account for nuts and other "snacks" I might carry but this is INSANELY UL! Even if I had to carry twice as much food for 7 days, not an issue!

Uhh, NO! 10 oz of food per day isn't going to cut it long term nutritionally on a AT thru-hike unless you expect to have health and energy issues even if you are hitting the TH carrying significant extra body wt. This isn't a calorie deficit that can simply be made up with an in town gorging which is problematic from several aspects in itself. IMHO, if you include all sources of food wt and nutrition, you'll likely be carrying twice or greater that many cals and food wt of food at some point.

PennyPincher
11-28-2016, 22:38
Three meals for a hiker should be at least 2,500 calories (I carry 4,000+ per day and stay pretty hungry at that). Ten ounces gross weight per day would have to exceed 250 cal/oz to get there, which is pretty much impossible even for pure fat. So you'll really need to add quite a bit of "nuts and other snacks" to fill what I believe would be a deficit.

I'm pretty sure that my 2 ounces of pork stuffed peppers are right around 250 cal/ounce FDed weight. I'll have to do some "calculating" and see what I am getting. At this point I have just been testing things out. I will do more calorie counting and before and after weights so I can convert my calories to FDed food weight.

PennyPincher
11-28-2016, 22:39
I'm available as a free taste tester. :D

thought I might have a hard time finding one!LOL

PennyPincher
11-28-2016, 22:50
Uhh, NO! 10 oz of food per day isn't going to cut it long term nutritionally on a AT thru-hike unless you expect to have health and energy issues even if you are hitting the TH carrying significant extra body wt. This isn't a calorie deficit that can simply be made up with an in town gorging which is problematic from several aspects in itself. IMHO, if you include all sources of food wt and nutrition, you'll likely be carrying twice or greater that many cals and food wt of food at some point.

Well, my next hike is the Lone Star Hiking Trail. Very easy trail. 96 miles. very minor elevation (I think low point is 150' above sea level and max is 490' above). I do eat very differently than others and this will be my first overnight with my own food and the way I eat now. We shall see. I will actually be carrying 9 days of food (which would be a really slow hike). Like I said above I will have to do some calorie math and see where I am at with these weights. I don't really count calories in my daily life and eat lots of fat, plenty of protein, and few carbs (only veg, some fruit). These meals actually have their full complement of fat as I will be using them within 3 weeks so I'm not worried about fats going rancid in that time.

I do eat walnuts which have 185 cal/ounce and 1 ounce raisins have 85 calories. thats a pretty good snack.
And while I have a little extra weight, I have much less than a few months ago when I started eating this way.
I will be FDing cheese, an ounce of that 110 calories - before FDing. I would be surprised if 8oz of colby didn't FD down to less than 4 ounces. That's going into the eggs along with veggies as well. All cooked in fat. I would be surprised if my breakfast was any less than 500 calories - good, slow burning, energy providing calories - unlike poptarts and bagels.

Dogwood
11-28-2016, 22:53
I'm pretty sure that my 2 ounces of pork stuffed peppers are right around 250 cal/ounce FDed weight. I'll have to do some "calculating" and see what I am getting...

lol. You should because unless the pork stuffed peppers are pork stuffed peppers flavored olive oil it aint happening at 250 cal/oz. :D;)

If you somehow manage to rewrite dehydrating history and food science creating 250 cal/oz pork stuffed peppers soylent I'm taking you public through an IPO and scheduling a TED talk pronto. :p

Dogwood
11-28-2016, 23:10
Lone Star Tr another often forgotten trail by easy coasters worthy of a shakedown hike and winter season worthy destination. Might consider exploring some side loops such as in Peckinpaugh and Lake Houston.

Explore. Eat well. :)

RockDoc
11-28-2016, 23:46
I admire your efforts, and the foods you are doing are fairly nutritious (more so oatmeal and pop tarts...T2D starter packs).

Lately I just carry whole eggs, mostly hard boiled, in a shaped plastic container. They last 3-4 days easily in moderate weather. I don't mind the weight, they are worth every ounce. I have tried dehydrating them, but I am concerned about oxidation of cholesterol, a possible health hazard. I wonder about this risk with FD? Have you thought about that?

PennyPincher
11-29-2016, 01:00
lol. You should because unless the pork stuffed peppers are pork stuffed peppers flavored olive oil it aint happening at 250 cal/oz. :D;)

If you somehow manage to rewrite dehydrating history and food science creating 250 cal/oz pork stuffed peppers soylent I'm taking you public through an IPO and scheduling a TED talk pronto. :p

Well the original weight of the stuffed peppers was closer to 8oz per 2 peppers. FDed they ended up at 2 oz for 2 peppers (IIRC). I am estimating them to be about 250 cal each originally, which would be 500 cal/ 2oz of FDed stuffed peppers. I don't see how that's so hard to believe. Again, I will check all my numbers from here on out but I don't know how I can be that far off.

PennyPincher
11-29-2016, 01:05
I admire your efforts, and the foods you are doing are fairly nutritious (more so oatmeal and pop tarts...T2D starter packs).

Lately I just carry whole eggs, mostly hard boiled, in a shaped plastic container. They last 3-4 days easily in moderate weather. I don't mind the weight, they are worth every ounce. I have tried dehydrating them, but I am concerned about oxidation of cholesterol, a possible health hazard. I wonder about this risk with FD? Have you thought about that?

I didn't know anything about cholesterol oxidation so I found this http://www.healthline.com/health/heart-disease/oxidized-cholesterol-what-you-should-know#Prevention5

I don't do any of that. I don't eat fast foods or deep fried foods or any vegetable oils. I cook with olive oil and coconut oil and real fats ONLY. My cholesterol numbers are great, my blood pressure has fallen, my weight is down since starting this way of eating (Wheat Belly). So with that said, I am not worried about it.

FreeGoldRush
11-29-2016, 01:23
I have tried dehydrating them, but I am concerned about oxidation of cholesterol, a possible health hazard. I wonder about this risk with FD? Have you thought about that?

After it comes out of the freeze drier I put the food in Mylar bags with an oxygen absorber; so there is no oxidation concern. This is common and could probably work with dehydrated foods too. So far I haven't made single serve hiker food but would like to start doing that.

garlic08
11-29-2016, 08:25
Basic rule-of-thumb trail math I use for calories is 100 cal/oz for carbs and protein, 200 cal/oz for fats. That's for completely dry grocery store stuff like pasta, rolled oats and nuts. I shoot for a mix that gives me about 130 cal/oz average. I carry about two pounds, about 4000 calories, per day (including some fresh fruit and veg that really blows the weight budget, but I think is necessary for long-term trail nutrition).

Like Dogwood says, if someone comes up with 250 cal/oz trail food, that's a breakthrough. Or like he says, flavored olive oil, and you really don't want to live on that. I haven't tried it, but have stories of those who have and it's not pretty. (And nearly fatal in one case and that's a long story.)

PennyPincher
11-30-2016, 18:38
Next batch is in.


The 2 trays on the left are my own mix that I call chicken & sausage gumbo, because "gumbo" sounds better than "glop." The 1 1/2 tray is my home made breakfast sausage - pork I ground myself and dry herbs/seasonings and no fillers. The other half a tray is diced red peppers, sauteed. The trays on the left were in the freezer overnight so that's ice on top of the food. the other trays were in the freezer for just a short amount of time so no noticeable ice.

The Gumbo weighs 4.5lbs, twice as much chicken as sausage and I assumed 20% liquid weight. There is some liquid, but not much. My estimate is that there is a total of 4051 calories in this food and I expect to get 7 servings from it. 578 cal/serving.

The breakfast sausage is 29oz and 96 cal/oz cooked for a total of 2,407 calories. This should give me 14 servings to add to my eggs. 172 cal/svg or 86/svg if I halve it. But I may cut the serving in half. Will need to decide after I have the eggs done and bagged with all their goodies. I like sausage, peppers, mushrooms and cheese with my eggs.

*note - my first batch I Fded eggs and estimated that dry weight of 1.9oz equaled 3 large eggs (as I had put in a dozen eggs). 3 large eggs fried are about 300 calories, that means my eggs are about 150cal/oz.
* I am using nutritiondata.self.com for my estimates on calorie counts

The diced peppers have a total of 300 calories and should be good for about 8 servings. It's 8oz cooked weight. This also goes into my eggs. That's 37cal/svg or 74 if I double the serving. I do like my peppers!

When everything comes out I will weigh everything. I know how many servings I can get from what went in so then I will take the dried weight and divide it into servings.

http://s1378.photobucket.com/user/prepper411/media/IMG_3397_zpsphv61gme.jpg.html?filters[user]=145904901&filters[recent]=1&sort=1&o=0

Venchka
11-30-2016, 19:25
Having spent most of my life on the Gulf Coast, I don't find anything appealing about the Lone Star Trail.
Tyler State Park is much closer to you. Several laps around the park's trails is a good workout.
Northwest of you are Wichita Mountains, Caprock Canyons and Palo Duro Canyon.
Slightly farther northwest puts you in the Pecos Wilderness Area of northeastern New Mexico. Real backpacking country in real mountains.
Have fun!
Wayne


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PennyPincher
11-30-2016, 21:10
Having spent most of my life on the Gulf Coast, I don't find anything appealing about the Lone Star Trail.
Tyler State Park is much closer to you. Several laps around the park's trails is a good workout.
Northwest of you are Wichita Mountains, Caprock Canyons and Palo Duro Canyon.
Slightly farther northwest puts you in the Pecos Wilderness Area of northeastern New Mexico. Real backpacking country in real mountains.
Have fun!
Wayne


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Thanks for the tips. There's a couple reasons for hiking this trail. I'm going with a friend, relative newb. It's been a while since I did any trips, especially one this length, so I think it's good terrain to get back in the saddle. It's between where she lives and where I live which also means her husband is close enough if anything crazy happens and we need to be picked up. Or even if we say hey, come get us, we finished early! (which is very likely and my husband is not quite so close)

And I have no desire to drive 2 hours to do laps and then get back in the car.

Venchka
11-30-2016, 21:42
You can camp at Tyler State Park and repeat the trails the next day. They are more exercise than you might think.
Check with the LST group for the river crossing water level and water sources along the trail. Apparently there are two water conditions: too much and not enough.
Good luck.
Wayne


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PennyPincher
12-01-2016, 11:40
Someone sent me a few questions so I thought I would post my answers as well as a few pictures for everyone.

Keep in mind that I have very little space so a lot of my decisions/opinions/etc are a direct result of what I am comfortable with in this space. Also, I am currently prepping for a backpacking trip so my loads are mixed loads. On mixed loads you want to be careful what you FD as odors/flavors can transfer between items. My PM to them follows:

I have the original, medium one. It has 4 trays.

A few points on why I did not opt for the larger unit.
This unit size is new. And the pump is the same size. Many say that's not important but I'm not 100% convinced. The new units, I believe, are back ordered. They initially made 100 of them and offered them out to existing customers first. This was just a couple months ago IIRC.

I think a larger unit will take longer to run a cycle all the way through. Not sure. So then you would likely end up with the same amount of food per hour of FDing possibly.

I have found that I actually have to work to get this unit full. Part of that is due to the fact that I have to get ready for a backpacking trip and I don't want to eat the same thing for a week so I need to make a variety of foods to load up the trays. This isn't a problem if you want to run a load of just chicken or whatever.

We are in a small apartment, so we are also limited on kitchen, fridge and freezer space. This affects us in so many ways. Not only do I have to cook every day but I am trying to stock up leftovers to get the trays loaded and I don't really have enough fridge space for many leftovers or freezer space to load a tray, put in the freezer to pre freeze (not necessary but helpful especially liquidy foods) until I get 4 trays full. Also, the very small kitchen means I have to cook food and then clean and then cook the next food I want on the trays, and on. So a simple task like cooking a couple dozen scrambled eggs is a bit more difficult than if I was in a normal sized kitchen. Yes, my kitchen is really THAT tiny! Think slightly larger than a tiny house. I am 5'3" and can stand at the sink and touch the fridge, stove and dishwasher without moving my feet.

If I had the larger unit I think at this point I would have a really hard time filling it. I found that with my large dehydrator I actually used it less than I wanted to as I always felt "bad" about running it partially full. Which is really silly since that's a unit you can open and close to add more foods as they are ready. If you have the room for doing large batches then I say go for it!

The other thing in my case is that I want to FD COOKED food so that all I need to do is re hydrate with boiling water and I can eat it. You do not need to cook your food first. This would greatly cut down on your prep time to get the trays loaded up. I am also not just FDing individual ingredients but complete meals in a lot of cases so again, a time suck.

Pump maintenance: This is only my 3rd load so all I have had to do so far is drain a little off each time before I run a load. Not really sure why but that's what the book says to do. I noticed that this time there was a bit of crud in the oil so I may filter it before the next batch but I just realized I don't have any extra oil on hand so I may not do that. As the oil degrades it can take longer for the pump to do it's part and your cycles take longer. I'll keep an eye on that and probably order some oil right after I finish this reply. LOL But other than that, the maintenance doesn't look so bad, even to me. Mostly I think people these days are used to tossing things rather than doing maintenance or just driving somewhere and having someone else do their maintenance.

Location: Like I said we live in a pretty tiny apartment. Initially it was sitting on our dining table and it took up most of one half of the table. Quite annoying. We got a "kitchen cart" recently and it's much better. Now it sits between the table and the half wall that divides the kitchen and dining area. Maybe I'll post some pics later. This is very near our living room and tv. I used to be able to sit at the table and watch and hear the tv. Can't do that if the FD is running. Also can't listen to tv from kitchen with it running. But I can still hear the tv if I'm sitting in the living room as the machine is behind me and not between me and the tv. Also, our bedroom is just off the dining area. We sleep fine with it running. I am a very light sleeper so if it changes from freezing to drying (which is when the pump kicks on) it wakes me but like I said, I am an extremely light sleeper. I wake when the sprinklers turn on in the summer in the middle of the night (cause that's when you run them in TX) from the water gentky hitting the windows.

If you are going to put this in your basement you shouldn't have any problems hearing it upstairs. Just don't put your pump on anything attached to the walls that will transfer the vibration through to the walls. "I" would hear the vibrations. LOL seriously!

I hope this helps.

That's the end of the message I sent

Now some pictures!
The unit wedged between the table and the half wall, my tiny kitchen, and the whole dining area and kitchen in one shot. Good thing we don't actually need to use all our seating! Sorry about the sideways views. The computer rotated them on upload. I tried to subvert that by rotating them and then uploading them and this forum insists on doing this to them anyway.

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PennyPincher
12-01-2016, 15:45
Three meals for a hiker should be at least 2,500 calories (I carry 4,000+ per day and stay pretty hungry at that). Ten ounces gross weight per day would have to exceed 250 cal/oz to get there, which is pretty much impossible even for pure fat. So you'll really need to add quite a bit of "nuts and other snacks" to fill what I believe would be a deficit.

What do you carry and how much does it weigh for a day or week or whatever?

garlic08
12-01-2016, 18:46
What do you carry and how much does it weigh for a day or week or whatever?

See post #41 above.

I'm a vegetarian and stoveless hiker and I resupply from grocery stores. My staples are muesli (mixed outside the grocery store with rolled oats, walnuts and raisins), tortillas and cheese and/or peanut butter, cashews and more raisins, crackers, dried hummus and refried beans the few times I can find them, Fig Newtons, corn chips. I never buy candy bars or "energy" bars. When available, I carry one piece of fresh fruit or veg for every day.

For long trips, I pack food based more on mileage than on number of days. One pound in my food bag gets me 10 to 12 miles in the long run. I entered the hundred mile wilderness at the end of my AT hike with eight pounds of food, for instance. That seems easier to me than trying plan individual meals, and the stoveless hiking style supports that. I can tell we have different takes on that, and that's fine!

PennyPincher
12-01-2016, 23:08
Basic rule-of-thumb trail math I use for calories is 100 cal/oz for carbs and protein, 200 cal/oz for fats. That's for completely dry grocery store stuff like pasta, rolled oats and nuts. I shoot for a mix that gives me about 130 cal/oz average. I carry about two pounds, about 4000 calories, per day (including some fresh fruit and veg that really blows the weight budget, but I think is necessary for long-term trail nutrition).

Like Dogwood says, if someone comes up with 250 cal/oz trail food, that's a breakthrough. Or like he says, flavored olive oil, and you really don't want to live on that. I haven't tried it, but have stories of those who have and it's not pretty. (And nearly fatal in one case and that's a long story.)

Quoting you as it was easy since you mention Dogwood as well. I'm going to post a chart from my spreadsheet of food that just came out of my FD. I used nutritiondata.com for my estimates and when in doubt I also erred on the side of caution, or tried to.

Here's my chart. Looks like I'm a genius! No, seriously, if my calculations are somehow screwed let me know. The first 2 items are actually combined into a "stew/gumbo." There is some other things in the stew I didn't account for but I accounted that the meat actually only made up 80% of the total weight of the meal. So my gumbo looks like it has 222 cal/oz in the FDed state, breakfast sausage is 247/oz FD, and red peppers are 333 cal/oz. Of course, I'm not going to pack an entire ounce of peppers for a mornings breakfast, or as it turns out, even a whole ounce FD of breakfast sausage. IIRC my 3 eggs scrambled only weighed 1.9oz FD and packs 300 calories, add in a svg of sausage and peppers from the chart and I get about 550 cal for about 2.8 oz FD call it 3 oz with packaging. I would say that's not too bad as that works out to 183cal/oz packaged. That Gumbo in the chart is 2.6 oz for 578 calories, add in some more veg like peppers (there's okra in it) and package it up and at 3 oz packaged I'm over 600 calories. Tell me where this doesn't make sense cause from what the two of you have stated, there's no way I should be able to get this many calories in so light a package but these are the numbers.


Food Description

Calories/oz

Pre cooked weights

Pre FD weight oz

Total Calories

Post FD weight oz

Pre FD oz/svg

# svg this batch

Post FD oz/svg

Cal/svg

Cal/FD oz







boneless, skinless chicken breast, cooked

46

4 quarts

72

4051

18.2

10

7

2.6

578.7143

222.5824

calories & weights etc here are for chicken and sausage gumbo



Italian style sausage, cooked

96

4 pints



Ground pork, cooked, breakfast sausage

93

2lb

29

2697

10.9

2

14

0.7785

192.6429

247.4312







peppers sauteed with fat

37

8.7 oz

8.1

299.7

0.9

1

8

0.1125

37.4625

333

PennyPincher
12-01-2016, 23:12
And here are the pictures of the latest batch.

Breakfast sausage crumbles and diced red peppers stored in jars for now as these will get added to eggs when I package them up.
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And then my chicken & sausage "gumbo" sealed into large bags until I FD some vegetables to add to it. Plus I am waiting on more bags to package the individual meals up.

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garlic08
12-01-2016, 23:33
The 4051 calories in your first line looks like a formula error. Is it supposed to be 46*72=3312?

The other numbers could be high if you're not allowing for fat burning off while cooking. That enticing aroma? That's fat in the air. The splatter you clean off the stove, counter, and pots, and the mess in the vent hood, on the cabinets, and on the walls and ceiling when you have to repaint? Those are calories. On something like the peppers sauteed in fat, the final results could be very sensitive to a little fat evaporating.

When I look up calories for generic boneless chicken, I see 31/oz, and for ground pork I see 72.

PennyPincher
12-02-2016, 01:01
The 4051 calories in your first line looks like a formula error. Is it supposed to be 46*72=3312?

The other numbers could be high if you're not allowing for fat burning off while cooking. That enticing aroma? That's fat in the air. The splatter you clean off the stove, counter, and pots, and the mess in the vent hood, on the cabinets, and on the walls and ceiling when you have to repaint? Those are calories. On something like the peppers sauteed in fat, the final results could be very sensitive to a little fat evaporating.

When I look up calories for generic boneless chicken, I see 31/oz, and for ground pork I see 72.

The top two ingredients are in a stew even though the calories are separated. The proportions are 2:1 chicken to sausage, so 48 oz of chicken * 46 cal/oz plus 24 oz sausage * 96 cal/oz = 4512 calories. I assumed that 20% of the total weight was actually water/zero calorie (even though I know some of the weight was veg and fat) so I did 4512*0.8 and ended up with 4051 calories for the whole thing. The calories/oz I used were from nutritiondata.com for cooked foods as I started with meat that had already been cooked. Does that math make sense now that I explained it?

As for the other numbers, like with the food above, I used nutrtiondata.com calorie counts for COOKED foods. These peppers I sauteed in fat, thus calories were higher than raw, per nutritiondata site. I also, though it's not on this chart, weighed all the food before I cooked it and then after I cooked it as well as after FDing it.

I think a really important thing here is the fact that the food weighs SO much less after FDing. FD weight is 1/4 of the wet weight! and sometimes more like with the peppers at less than 1/8 the wet weight.

garlic08
12-02-2016, 09:56
...I think a really important thing here is the fact that the food weighs SO much less after FDing. FD weight is 1/4 of the wet weight! and sometimes more like with the peppers at less than 1/8 the wet weight.

That's exactly right, and well done.

My question about the numbers comes from a long career in engineering, which started before there were spreadsheets. In my career, I witnessed spreadsheet errors on critical calculations, both technical and financial, that ruined careers. I learned to always step back from computer results and push the "BS button" when I saw something that just did not quite make sense. In this case, no career is at stake, just maybe a rumbling stomach on the last day of your backpacking trip! Enjoying the tasty meals is the main thing, like you said.

Just Bill
12-02-2016, 10:42
That's exactly right, and well done.

My question about the numbers comes from a long career in engineering, which started before there were spreadsheets. In my career, I witnessed spreadsheet errors on critical calculations, both technical and financial, that ruined careers. I learned to always step back from computer results and push the "BS button" when I saw something that just did not quite make sense. In this case, no career is at stake, just maybe a rumbling stomach on the last day of your backpacking trip! Enjoying the tasty meals is the main thing, like you said.

I'm not quite following this either... one of the issues with FD meals from the big boys is that they often have fairly low Cal/oz.
To be fair... that could be simple economics of using cheaper "filler" ingredients rather than looking at heartier meals or concentrated foods.

But here's a simple commercial meal supplier- http://www.preparewise.com/emergency-freeze-dried-chicken.html
Freeze dried chicken- they post 24G serving at 100 cal.
So 24/28.5= .842oz. 100/.842= 118.76 cal/oz.

Eggs- http://www.preparewise.com/emergency-powdered-eggs.html
13g serving @80 cal. (says equal to one egg)
So 13/28.5= .456 oz. 80/.456= 175.44 cal/oz.

Unless I'm missing something I don't think you can break the basic 200 cal/oz rule? Even with all water removed I'd think eggs are the closest you'd come.
Even if you got pure concentrated fat... 9cal/g stuff... 9x28.5g= 256.5 cal and even pure oil doesn't achieve that. Remember calories are measured dry anyway... bit like we burn dry wood vs green wood.


NOW... all that said. Thanks so much for posting info about this product and process. Even if the math isn't quite right on the calories (or I'm wrong which is great!) this is still a great way to make meals and I am very interested.
I too am excited about this machine and possibly using it in the future as well. I think the cost per meal is lower too if it's something you can keep around/handy. Just like the dehydrator if you can make an extra few servings (or have leftovers you'd toss) when cooking normal meals then simply drying the extra you've made is virtually no labor. If you had a garden or could take advantage of seasonal produce sales then you can do this pretty cheaply with better quality too.

Also- when folks are looking at cost per meal with FD stuff- good economics would dictate you deduct the cost of the alternative too. As in even if this costs you $4 a meal, it still costs you to eat period. So if this is a $4 meal vs a $3 meal but much higher quality food (as in you sourced the food and know where it came from) then it's very worth it to many. Also, FD does come back much better than dehydrated no matter how well you dry conventionally.

Even something simple like being able to season your meals is a big bonus to me. Big bold stuff comes through with a dehydrator (chili, gravy (red sauce), and hot foods) but any subtle seasoning is usually lost. It sounds like herbs and aromatics come through freeze drying much better. Texture too.

Again... not trying to nitpick.. that's a big investment to make and I am very curious about it overall and really appreciate the feedback.

My only concern is the mylar packaging needed. No worse than plastics I suppose but still...

PennyPincher
12-02-2016, 12:40
I'm not quite following this either... one of the issues with FD meals from the big boys is that they often have fairly low Cal/oz.
To be fair... that could be simple economics of using cheaper "filler" ingredients rather than looking at heartier meals or concentrated foods.

But here's a simple commercial meal supplier- http://www.preparewise.com/emergency-freeze-dried-chicken.html
Freeze dried chicken- they post 24G serving at 100 cal.
So 24/28.5= .842oz. 100/.842= 118.76 cal/oz.

Eggs- http://www.preparewise.com/emergency-powdered-eggs.html
13g serving @80 cal. (says equal to one egg)
So 13/28.5= .456 oz. 80/.456= 175.44 cal/oz.

Unless I'm missing something I don't think you can break the basic 200 cal/oz rule? Even with all water removed I'd think eggs are the closest you'd come.
Even if you got pure concentrated fat... 9cal/g stuff... 9x28.5g= 256.5 cal and even pure oil doesn't achieve that. Remember calories are measured dry anyway... bit like we burn dry wood vs green wood.


NOW... all that said. Thanks so much for posting info about this product and process. Even if the math isn't quite right on the calories (or I'm wrong which is great!) this is still a great way to make meals and I am very interested.
I too am excited about this machine and possibly using it in the future as well. I think the cost per meal is lower too if it's something you can keep around/handy. Just like the dehydrator if you can make an extra few servings (or have leftovers you'd toss) when cooking normal meals then simply drying the extra you've made is virtually no labor. If you had a garden or could take advantage of seasonal produce sales then you can do this pretty cheaply with better quality too.

Also- when folks are looking at cost per meal with FD stuff- good economics would dictate you deduct the cost of the alternative too. As in even if this costs you $4 a meal, it still costs you to eat period. So if this is a $4 meal vs a $3 meal but much higher quality food (as in you sourced the food and know where it came from) then it's very worth it to many. Also, FD does come back much better than dehydrated no matter how well you dry conventionally.

Even something simple like being able to season your meals is a big bonus to me. Big bold stuff comes through with a dehydrator (chili, gravy (red sauce), and hot foods) but any subtle seasoning is usually lost. It sounds like herbs and aromatics come through freeze drying much better. Texture too.

Again... not trying to nitpick.. that's a big investment to make and I am very curious about it overall and really appreciate the feedback.

My only concern is the mylar packaging needed. No worse than plastics I suppose but still...

I appreciate everyone's comments. As to Garlic's comment about spreadsheet errors, that's exactly WHY I posted my spreadsheet and explained the methodology where it may not have been clear. I am curious if the commercial people are listing their calories per "prepared weight?"

I think my eggs will come in very close to the commercially prepared numbers so that gives me confidence. One advantage I have is that since I am planning on eating these soon I am unconcerned about fats going rancid and so I cook with fat, like eggs and other things.

I didn't start this in order to get more calories per ounce over the commercial producers though I do believe they use a lot of fillers. There are over 100,000 ingredients that food makers ARE NOT required to list. I started this because we have very different eating habits which basically eliminates all commercially prepared foods. We are also able to use the organic ingredients we usually use at home every day. Eating organic vs non-organic is world's apart in flavor. Unless you go organic you likely won't know the difference. But it's like the smoker who doesn't realize they smell worse than an ashtray until they quit smoking (I quit smoking almost 23 years ago and couldn't believe how bad I had to have smelled!).

As for mylar, for LTS I will package in mylar in large bags. But anything I am using soon goes right into vacuum bags and when I am ready to package the LTS into backpacking meals I would put that into serving sized vacuum bags. Right now I am waiting on vacuum bags so the stuff I anticipate going on this trip is in canning jars, vacuum sealed, so as to not waste a mylar bag. I do not anticipate cooking in mylar as the manufacturers I contacted cannot assure me that the bags wouldn't delaminate. Also, mylar is expensive and heavy as compared to the vacuum bags I use. The ones I just ordered this week are 4mil and cost about 3-6 cents each depending on size.

As for the cost per meal, I suppose I could figure that out. Bottom line is we don't really have to be concerned about it fortunately to an extent. We also figure this way of eating as part of our cost of caring for our health - instead of trying to cure illnesses brought on by poor eating habits. Since we started this way of eating 5 months ago we have both lost 20 + lbs and our BP are completely normal, like 106/64 normal. Additionally my sugar has stopped spiking so I don't have worries that I will develop diabetes and all the complications that go with that. I price shop a lot of things but certain things are important enough to me to pay more money for the better quality. Food is one as is toilet paper! (I don't want butt rash!)

But thanks for all your comments. It's definitely appreciated.

Just Bill
12-02-2016, 13:00
Fully agree with your non-economic and mathematical reasons to do this... just can't help myself with the numbers :datz



http://www.makeyourgear.com/food/accessories/bowl-bags/

meant to post this before as a FBC option. Haven't used them personally though many report good things and that they can be re-used easily (except for Chili and tomato based stuff)
The shallow size and boat shape may make getting breakfasts and similar easier to bring back with the least water.

I always found with the MH style breakfasts that a soak and a cook off improved things quite a bit... would imagine the same for your omelets.
I used to carry a snow peak pot with the fryer pan lid... I'd be able to boil some water for cooking and steam fry the eggs in the lid. Cooked off the extra water without burning or needing to officially fry them. Seemed to give them a bit of extra fluff too.

Definitely interested to find out how that thing does with meals vs ingredients.
One tough thing with a dehydrator is that you often have to do double work in that regard. The Freeze dry method seems to have more potential for plopping down a meal... or doing say a scrambled style omelet with all the seasonings and fixins then going from pan to drier with the finished meal. I picture stir-fry and similar meals going well too in that way.

PennyPincher
12-02-2016, 17:25
Just Bill, those are cool bags but at 60 cents a piece x 3meals/day x 7days/week x 26 weeks x 2people. That would add the heck up! I checked with the maker of the bags I am buying and I shouldn't have to worry about any nasties in my food from the plastic bags I am using. gusseted bags would be a bonus and I did look for those as well but couldn't find any in a price point that I was good with. I am actually going with an 8" wide bag in a couple different heights, shorter for sides or individual components and taller for complete meals. And then I ordered some 2 1/2" wide bags to hold toppings etc. Like FD cheese and such that I may want to reconstitute separately and add on top of my meal. And I made my cozy "gusseted" so it can stand up on it's on.

PennyPincher
12-03-2016, 15:11
So latest pics and stats. These are just bagged "in bulk" until I have time to do individual meals later today.

2 doz scrambled eggs 45.1oz cooked 11.4oz FD (haven't decided if I will do 2 or 3 eggs, usually I eat 3 every day but I'm adding sausage, cheese, peppers, mushrooms, and jalapenos to these - but let's assume 3eggs/day)

Mushrooms 11.3oz cooked 1.3oz FD (this was a pound+ of mushrooms before cooking)
yellow pepper 9.5oz 0.9oz FD
green peppers and onions (for a different dish) 23.8oz cooked 1.8oz FD
jalapenos 5.7oz cooked 0.6oz FD

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PennyPincher
12-04-2016, 02:08
Since this is "my thread" I figure this is the appropriate place to put this "mini rant" and then do some math for y'all too!

I often see people discussing how cheap/expensive it is to thru hike any of the long trails. More so the AT I think but it doesn't much matter. At the same time I read plenty of trail journals and posts about people subsisting on "energy bars", pop tarts, ramen, etc only to gorge themselves on pizza and burgers in towns and end up crawling out of town from their food coma. I guess the "wealthier" hikers may buy up Mountain House FDed meals along the trail as they find them (likely at about $7/meal or more). Some people like to poke fun at vegans trying to thru or those who follow a gluten free diet, as if they don't understand how hard a thru hike is without "making it more difficult" in regards to food.

Hiking is hard. Long distance hiking is much harder. I feel everyone should be free to put whatever they want into their bodies. But one of the comments I have received here and elsewhere is how I must need to make a lot of meals to get a freeze dryer to pay for itself. And in a way they are right if you just looked at what I "could" do any of my hiking on by eating ramen etc. But that's not all there is to it. I feel an investment in quality food, to fuel my body to it's highest levels, is worth the extra cost and inconvenience. But I was curious about the cost so I broke it down in a thread on another forum. I will re-post it here and there may be some overlap with what I have already posted. But I did think some of you would be interested.

I will also state that I have been showing some of the weights and calorie counts as I go. I hope to have more of those for you tomorrow (or rather later on today).

That post on the cost of meals follows:
One of the common refrains I have seen is that for $3K for the FD, I need to FD a lot of food to make it pay for itself. This may or may not be true especially as compared to the cost of buying FD food.

There are several differences I would like to point out though in regards to the foods I am FDing and what is actually available for mass purchase.
The quality of the ingredients I am using is MUCH better.
I have NO preservatives in my food. And you know, those nasty chemicals (over 100,000 of them) that aren't even required to be on the labels!
I can customize my meals, the variety, and the meal sizes. I don't know about you but when I see some of those FDed foods for sale and they are claiming that the bucket has 84 servings and you see the average serving size is about 140 calories, something tells me I'm going to need a lot of their "servings."
Add in dietary restrictions due to choice or necessity and mass produced food won't work for many.

Next, the cost of FDed individual meals average about $7 each. Maybe $6.50 if you weight your purchase towards the cheap carb side.
Big cans are about $2.20 for a 1 cup serving of about 250 calories. (okay, I looked at MH Beef stroganoff at beprepared but my guess is it's fairly typical). And what type of QUALITY are you getting when you are getting FDed food for a little more than $2/cup?! It's like getting a 20 pack of McNuggets for $3 and you think you scored unless you really think about what you must be putting into your body! Yikes!

So I wanted to try to figure out how much some of my meals are costing me.

Currently I have a batch of a mix that I discovered this summer and LOVE. It's grass fed beef (though any beef works), okra and tomatoes all cooked up in a skillet or pot depending on how much I make at a time, with some garlic and other seasonings and a little olive oil. This was 2 lbs ground beef, 3 lbs okra, and half a dozen tomatoes. I get my beef at the farmer's market for $5/lb, Okra was bought this summer by the box full and blanched and frozen so I will estimate that it is about $5 (though I believe it was closer to $3). The tomatoes, Romas, were about $5 based on some that I bought today. So I have about $20 into this plus seasonings and I should get 10 hefty meals out of this. This works out to $2 per meal, not accounting for the cost of electricity in cooking and then FDing the food. The bags I use are about 5cents each for individual meals. When I bag for LTS I will use mylar and those bags are about 60 cents each but also hold multiple meals as they are gallon sized. So do I really save any money? Maybe not, but there's no way I can get this type of food - grass fed beef, organically raised, pesticide free produce, free of preservatives and seasoned to my tastes without overloading on sodium.

If I was to use ground beef at $2/lb and non-organic produce and seasonings I would likely find my cost per meal drop to less than $1 per meal. At that rate the math would be simple. 3000 meals and you have your cost of the FD back. This doesn't take into account sides, like extra veg, cheese toppings, and deserts etc. If you make and like lasagna you can FD that but maybe you want to have a side of green beans with that or something.

For 6 months for 2 people, 3 meals per day equals 1,092 meals. I know this because one of our goals is to thru hike the AT and do it all while eating our own FDed meals which will be mailed to us by a friend or family member.

If you have a larger family or raise any of your own food, IMO, a FD would be a "no brainer."

Added for y'all: At my cost of $2/meal for superb quality and flavor a thru hike of 26 weeks would cost us $2,184. This does not count snacks and other toppings or postage. Those things will be part of later posts.

Venchka
12-04-2016, 15:11
Are those tomatoes from Marfa, Texas?
http://villagefarms.com
For those times when you can't find locally grown.
Wayne


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

PennyPincher
12-05-2016, 16:04
Cross posting from another forum I post to:


I get your point and am trying to justify an FD for my own family, but to do a fair comparison, something you are not taking in to account is the electricity to run your FD and the time invested to grow and harvest your own food and to FD it yourself. Also, you mentioned the bags, but what about the investment for the equipment to remove oxygen and seal them? Wouldn't #10 cans be a better solution to LTS and what would be the investment be to support that, to properly store long term?

To your point though, "quality" and "choice" trumps all and is likely the reason people invest in a HRFD, not cost or time savings.




Thank you for the questions. This is long but that's because I have thought about this a LOT before buying this unit.

I have not yet seen an electric bill with any significant FD use on it. And the cost will vary based on your electric rates around the country. I have seen others who run their FD "constantly" and yet they pay about $1/day to run it. I would say the same needs to be considered for any food storage method. I can on an electric stove and my dehrydrator, of course, runs on electricity. Obviously when I get my bill I will let y'all know how much I see in cost. After this week, if it's significant, I should see it in my bill!

This is what HR says about the cost of electricity.

Quote


What type of power do the freeze dryers use? How much will it cost to run?
Harvest Right has taken every precaution to make this appliance run as affordably as possible.

Small and Standard

Our small and standard freeze dryers use a standard 110 volt outlet.

At peak, the freeze dryer draws about 16 amps, but on the average about 9 to 11 amps (990-1210 watts) of power per hour. A dedicated 20 amp circuit is recommended. Your freeze dryer will cost an estimated $1.25-$2.80 a day, depending on power costs in your area.


I have a standard size, 4 tray unit. They now also make a larger unit with 5 trays that are somewhat larger.

I wish I could grow and harvest my own food! I pay good money for good food. I want it available for travel (dietary restrictions) and for TEOTWAWKI situations (like job loss or a total collapse of the economy). Also, we are planning to hike the Appalachian trail in a few years and this will be a significant savings for that trip. Currently I am trying to get enough meals (and variety) for my upcoming backpacking trip this weekend.

As for method of sealing. I use plastic or mylar bags sealed in my chamber sealer. My previous vacuum sealer had been crapping out on me after only 2 years of use and I was eyeing a Cabela's "hunter's grade" sealer for around $469. Someone else on this forum was talking about chamber sealers. Chamber sealers allow you to seal plastic bags without channels which are MUCH cheaper than regular vacuum bags. I literally have some sized bags that are as cheap as 2.5 cents per bag. My largest bag costs 6.3 cents per bag. When I was using vacuum bag rolls I was able to get my most common size down to 34 cents per bag for the size that I mostly use (8"x12") however, I actually had less storage space due to the amount of bag the old sealer takes to make a seal. I figure I lost at least an inch for the seals. Which is not quite as insignificant as it may seem when using a lot of bags. I did get a chamber vacuum sealer for $679 shipped. And it does seal mylar bags, up to 7 mil thick, very well, though it's not "rated" for mylar so I wouldn't want to do large amounts of mylar. For longer term storage I will use larger mylar bags. Maybe. They are very costly. There are only 2 of us so we may want to continue with the small plastic pouches. We can always put individual meals that are in plastic into a larger 5 gal mylar bag in a bucket. That would give us the benefits of being able to open only what we need and the up to 25 year shelf life mylar provides.

A chamber sealer is really the only type of vacuum sealer I would use for FDed foods because the foods can literally become powdery very quickly and that is not good for the suction type sealers. Also, we do use this sealer to seal foods going into the freezer. And it works with freezing liquids which is impossible with a regular sealer without a manual control and still messy even with a manual control as you end up having some liquid sucked up by the vacuum machine.

Alternatively we can seal in mason jars. I know there are many people who use this for "short term" foods. Like FDed marshmallows and ice cream bars. Snack type things or maybe "staples" like rice. Actually, I may do this for a spanish cauliflower rice I just started making or my tomato powder next season (tomato sauce dehydrated this season and then powdered, I may use the FD for it next year). My chamber sealer will actually seal small pint sized (and smaller) jars. This is good as I didn't have to use my handheld attachment at 2am this morning to seal up the rest of my salsa. This function will also come in handy if I am using the dehydrator or FD to powder gravies, soups/broths, sauces, etc.

As for #10 cans. For us that's not a great alternative at this point. We could borrow a can sealer from the local LDS store (they loan them out free) and buy cans from them, relatively cheap. But then we would be restricted as to when we could run our FD as to when we would have the canner available. Buying a can sealer is out of the question for us at this point. I think the cheapest I have seen for a #10 can sealer is $2K though a quick perusal shows some smaller units for smaller cans to be under $1K. It may be a possibility in the future for us. But we REALLY like the ability for individual meals.

Now, most people DO NOT USE a vacuum sealer for their FDed foods. HR suggests their 7 mil mylar and an O2 absorber and an impulse sealer. That makes the cost of sealing, up front, much cheaper but given our particular needs for our particular situation (and the fact we were buying the sealer anyway) we went a different way.

Back to the actual food we are FDing. Some may call us "food snobs" or "whack jobs." You pick. But briefly, we eat almost entirely organic produce. Sometimes we can't get it and I will change the menu but certain things my husband "has to eat" every week (like his sweet potatoes). When we can, we eat grass fed beef or pastured, organically raised chicken/pork or as close as we can afford to. We do not eat foods with nitrites. We do not eat ANY grains or derivatives. That means no corn, no vegetable oils, very little soy, no wheat or rice products, no added sugars - including any cane sugar, etc or any of the fructose/sucrose cheap garbage put into foods. We make our own ketchup for the few times we need it, and BBQ sauce and Worcestershire sauce. I would make our own mustard too if it wasn't so easy to buy it without any nasties in it. This is how we eat EVERY DAY. We have been doing this for 5 months now and look at it all as an investment in our health as we have already experienced several health benefits. So how much do you value your health?
While we can buy some organic produce already FDed, and even some meals, the cost is very high. So our cost is actually much lower and the longer we own this and are able to take advantage of seasonal price drops on this food, the bigger our long term savings will be.

I may have made a post about our cost of these meals. If I haven't, I will. I am posting similar threads on a few forums so sometimes a post doesn't make it to all the forums.

Back to the cost of storage. At 6 cents a bag, how many times would you need to use a mason jar to get your cost down to 6 cents per quart? Well, basically you can't as the lids are at least that much and usually between 10 and 20 cents each depending on when you get them and if you have a coupon. But then the cost of the jars comes into play as well. Even a smoking deal on quart jars, say $8 for 12 means 75 cents each. You would have to use that jar more than 12 times to get it down to 6 cents per use. Which for many people will mean 12 years or more before the jar per use cost is the same as my bag cost. The other cost with jars is the cost to store them. I had quite an investment in shelves over the years for my home canned goods. You need very sturdy shelving to hold all that weight. I know, I have hundreds of jars of various sizes, of food. And while I likely won't give up on canning all together, that is a very time intensive, energy intensive, process.

Variety: FDing offers the most variety for foods you can store long term. Hands down. Ever can avocado? You can't. Not safely and I wonder how that would work out on the other side! Ewwww. About the only thing I have found I can't FD are straight fats like oils though some fat/oil in the preparation of the food if you are cooking and then FDing should not be any problem. You can FD raw or cooked food. You still need a dehydrator to make jerky and not so sure you could/should FD jerky. But then again, that's probably not necessary anyway. A lot of the meals I make, there is no safe tested recipe for canning them. Dehydrating doesn't work very well when trying to dry things with mixed ingredients. Dehydrated food also gets VERY sharp and hard. This is why dehydrated ground beef is referred to as "gravel." Ability to rehydrate FD food is much better than dehydrated food. FD food retains it's texture, size and shape better. FD food also retains 97% of it's nutritional value.

So I hope this helps and doesn't sound too much like "I'm right and you're wrong." It's not meant that way. But you asked some good questions and my answers were not simple. And they are our "justification" for buying this machine.

rocketsocks
12-05-2016, 18:34
Penny, I haven't researched this, but are there any other company's making and selling freeze dry units? I'd like to see these come way down in price before I could even think about buying one.

PennyPincher
12-05-2016, 20:06
Penny, I haven't researched this, but are there any other company's making and selling freeze dry units? I'd like to see these come way down in price before I could even think about buying one.

Nope. Not for home use. And these are a little lower than they originally were but not much.

HR does have a layaway plan where you make a minimum payment every month. Pretty low from what I have seen. Interest free. And if the price drops while you are paying for your machine, you get the lower price.

rocketsocks
12-05-2016, 23:30
Nope. Not for home use. And these are a little lower than they originally were but not much.

HR does have a layaway plan where you make a minimum payment every month. Pretty low from what I have seen. Interest free. And if the price drops while you are paying for your machine, you get the lower price.good to know, thank you.

PennyPincher
12-18-2016, 00:33
I was supposed to be doing a hike of the LSHT but due to reports of the trail being nearly knee deep in spots and an incoming cold front plus more predictions for rain, my friend and I decided to go to Big Bend instead. I had never been and it was an AMAZING place and a great decision. We had sun all day and we day hiked since we didnt have the ability to cache water plus this was my first whack at ANY elevation since I moved to Texas over a year and a half ago.

But I did eat my FDed meals just as if we were backpacking. Meaning I used my backpacking stove, pot, and windscreen. And I "cooked" the meals in the bags I packed them in and used my cozy.

My cozy was designed around the MountainHouse meals I used to eat. (ok, it's been a while since I went backpacking - before I moved to Texas). So the cozy is a bit too big and I will make a better sized one before my next trip.

The results:
The meals rehydrated VERY WELL. I didn't have any problems with some parts rehydrating while others weren't ready yet. I didn't really time anything but with maybe 1 exception when I was very hungry, everything seemed to rehydrate very quickly.

Breakfast: 3 eggs scrambled, breakfast sausage crumbles, mushrooms, peppers, jalapenos, salsa (and sometimes cheese). The eggs don't come back with their true texture. All FDed eggs feel a bit styrofoamy to me. I found this is less so when I break the FDed egg pieces up a bit smaller. The combo tasted great. The best way to add the cheese is to do it AFTER the rest is done and just stir it in and it absorbs the extra water quickly. I think if I want salsa on my eggs from now on I will make that an addition after the eggs and the rest is done "cooking."

Meals: I made pulled pork, beef/okra/tomato combo, pork stuffed peppers, my version of gumbo, fajita chicken with green peppers and onions and spanish cauliflower rice and roasted zucchini slices.


The pulled pork was so tasty that I had it twice. Unfortunately I learned what too much water does - dilutes the flavor. Lesson learned.

Beef/okra/tomato combo was fantastic and basically the exact same way it tastes when freshly made at home.

the pork stuffed peppers were almost exactly the same as when they come out of the oven, just a little extra liquid of course.

the gumbo I packed I hadn't even tasted it before I packed it and I make it a bit different every time. But it was very tasty. Maybe I should standardize my "recipe" but hey, where would the fun be there? It's usually a bit of a wet dish so it was very much like it is when at home.

The fajita chicken with green peppers and onions was FANTASTIC! For all you grain eaters, it would have gone great on a tortilla wrap.

The zucchini slices actually got several trials. They are actually good as a snack, dry, like when you are hungry and waiting for water to boil. I cooked them in their own pouch. I packaged them separately just like I did the rice.
The Spanish rice was AMAZING. I cooked this by itself most times but also cooked it in foods that had no veg. It rehydrates so well and so quickly. It's great to eat while waiting for the main meal. I figure these sides are good to have especially if the main meal turns out to be just a little to short on filling me up. And at my packed size of only about .5 oz, it's easy to bring a couple extras.

There is some tweaking I will be doing. My bags are taller than they need to be. I can easily cut them down. I may also try a narrower bag to see if I like it better. The current bags are 8" wide which is similar to MH type meals but I think my bags have more usable interior width. So narrower bag possibly but at least shorter bag which will cut a fraction of an ounce off each package. I liked my meal sizes but I will be checking that on a long backpacking trip when hopefully some serious hiker hunger will set in even though truth be told, it's never happened for me in the past and it may not in the future. We shall see. If I need to increase meal sizes or numbers of meals it shouldn't be an issue as far as weight goes because the average meal only weighed in at about 2.5oz on average.

I also learned after the first series of meals and sides I packaged that I really do need to pack the food down at the bottom of the bag and not worry about crushing it. It makes it easier to pack it in a smaller space. And smaller pieces rehydrate much quicker.

PennyPincher
01-29-2017, 16:15
Here's a couple of pictures of the latest load. Freeze dried organic colby cheese. I shredded it first. Each tray has 8 oz of cheese. The trays can handle more weight, much more, and maybe at some point I will increase how much I put on each tray. My main concern is just making sure the cheese doesn't get too clumped up on the tray and then not properly FD. Next up is scrambled eggs for my upcoming backpacking trip.

I package each tray into 2 packets and they weigh 2.5 oz from what was originally 4 oz. May not seem like much weight saving for backpacking but the cheese is stable this way and I can add it to any dish I want or even just eat it if I need calories.


3806238063

PennyPincher
03-02-2017, 19:37
I've been pretty lazy lately with the food prep but I have a 30 day trip coming up soon so I'm back to freeze drying! There's a batch of eggs in right now and the rest of the weekend will be spent FDing the veggies to go with my eggs and making and then FDing my own breakfast sausage. Also took an inventory of the meals I already have made up and am planning what else I need to cook and freeze dry between now and the day I leave. We make all our own food, every day with very few exceptions. So I also have to make approx 74 meals for my husband and freeze them for him. I currently have 16. He makes his own breakfast every day so that's not a concern.

I figure I want at least 7 different lunch/dinners. that would mean I would eat the same meal 2x per week. I think I will actually have more than that number of variations before I am done though.

So far I have made and eaten:
Pulled pork
Beef, Okra, tomato
Chicken and sausage gumbo
Chicken fajita (without a wrap but working on finding a shelf stable one I can eat)
pork stuffed peppers (becomes more like stew)
and of course my eggs with veggies and cheese

I have made but not tried:
chicken in tomato sauce - I like it when I bake it and it should re hydrate well

I also have a Moroccan Chicken recipe that I love and that's headed to the freeze dryer next week, and possibly the freezer as well, after I make it for dinner.
I am also trying a cilantro lime chicken this weekend which will hopefully be a huge hit so that it can go into the freeze dryer as well as the freezer.

PennyPincher
03-05-2017, 00:38
breakfast sausage and red pepper dices in the Freeze dryer right now. They will be ready tomorrow evening some time. I add these to my eggs for breakfast. I will also do some more peppers and mushrooms. I've already got a bunch of cheese done. I add the cheese after the egg mixture is re hydrated as it soaks up very little water and does so very quickly.

later this week I'll make morrocan chicken and freeze dry that along with a bunch of cauliflower rice. Well that's the plan anyway.

PennyPincher
03-08-2017, 23:07
Mailing options:

So I am getting to be about a month out from my leave date for my 30 days on the trail. Decided to repackage the existing meals into the smaller of my bags as it was obvious the larger bags were just extra weight. This also allowed me to make a smaller cozy as well (only a 2 gram savings as I made it smaller but sturdier). I decided to box up what I have currently (24 meals) into a box I had laying around from an Amazon order. Weighed it and measured it and plugged it into the USPS little shipping calculator and found that I can ship these 24 meals to Hiawasea from my home, 2 day priority (hold for pickup) for just $14.15! I never would have been able to get all these meals in one large flat rate box. Those things may be bargains if you have heavy but small items to ship (like ammo!) but it's not a bargain on lighter items. The 24 meals, in the box, weighs less than 4lbs 5 oz. Now some of these meals are a bit small and meant to go with a side like cauliflower rice which will be sealed up separate so I would need a slightly larger box or just meals for a day or 2 less. But this is really cool stuff! Next up is packing up my backpack (now that my zpacks tent and sleeping bag came in) and seeing how much room I have for food. BTW, the box measure 14.5"x8.25"x7.25"

PennyPincher
03-13-2017, 15:11
Made Moroccan Chicken. Had to freeze dry the chicken separate from the veggies and "sauce." I sliced the chicken breasts before putting them in the FD. The freeze dryer sits on a slant. This means when you have "liquid-y" things you need to pre freeze the loaded trays or it drips out of the tray. I don't have an extra set of trays so I lose time when I freeze dry "liquid-y" things. The chicken freeze dried pretty quickly. Just over 24 hours (I will have to check the log to be certain). The freeze dryer was due (perhaps overdue) for a power flush of the pump. This was good as I needed my husband to help with that (it's a 2 person job) and I needed the time to load the veggies and the sauce into the trays and have them freeze. The sauce for the 10 servings of chicken took 2 trays. I also loaded 2 trays with 12 cups of cooked cauliflower rice (was 20 c raw). This load took the longest of any load yet. A total of 34 hours. The sauce and veggie came out AMAZING. Yes, I sampled it before bagging it up. If I hadn't just done a power flush I would guess that I needed to do a power flush except all the indicators on the control panel were showing everything went as planned and the food came out good.

New load is in with cooked green peppers and onions for my chicken fajitas and some asparagus spears (first time trying that) which hopefully will make a good snack to crunch on.

PennyPincher
03-14-2017, 22:18
only 27 hours for the latest load of green peppers and onions and the asparagus spears. I have some guacamole freezing and then that will go in the freeze dryer with some cilantro lime chicken and more asparagus spears. I may also make some lemon chicken and put that in the same load.

PennyPincher
03-22-2017, 15:11
Cilantro Lime Chicken (boneless, skinless thighs) and what I simply call "seasoned chicken" which is just boneless, skinless thighs seasoned with garlic and onion powder and cayenne.

kestral
03-22-2017, 18:02
I'm having major gear envy- your freeze dryer is awesome! Your critics don't get it, planning and preparing food for upcoming trips is part of the fun of the hike for me too.
If you don't have a trail name yet I would name you "Foodie"

Can't afford a harvest right myself just yet. Just got to keep saving my pennies I guess!

Whiskey_Richard
03-24-2017, 17:28
Thank you so much for sharing all this great information. If you do standardize those recipes please share

rocketsocks
03-24-2017, 17:45
You've had this a while now, and maybe you already posted this, but what is your energy cost for the last few months?

PennyPincher
03-24-2017, 18:17
You've had this a while now, and maybe you already posted this, but what is your energy cost for the last few months?

I really don't notice it. There's a number of factors to that. This is our first year in this apartment. We were in a much larger house last year. I could maybe go through and look at my usage but we actually had a pretty cold winter compared to last year in TX so I'm not sure how good that would work out. I don't use this every week or even every month. I kind of go "in spurts" depending on what else is going on. When I get the bill for this month maybe I can see what it's costing us. My gut is that it's not much. I know some people who say that it costs them $1 a day every day they run it, sometimes less. We have a service that shops our electric rates for us and they just switched us so we are paying less than 5 cents/kwh and our first bill was a partial month for less than $21 (I think that was 2 weeks and included some heavy usage). My next bill should have "a lot" of FD usage on it.

SO I just looked up my electric bills:
December was $45 (no A/c usage or heat on that bill!)
January I paid $89 for electric (this covers part of December and part of January, covers heat, cooking, washer/dryer, lights,tv etc). - This was high and there were some actual freezing days through December and January. I did 4 loads in the FDer in all of December, and only 1 at the end of January so not likely more than 4 loads on that bill.

$68 paid in February (maybe 2 loads on this bill)
$24 in March and then $21 in mid march (changed electric companies) possibly no loads on this bill
April will have several loads on the bill. When I get back from my trip in May I will try to match up the bill and the number of loads I ran. We are already using A/C though as we are up to and over 80 degrees here frequently.

PennyPincher
03-24-2017, 18:20
next to go in will be some green bananas, green beans, and roasted zucchini "wheels" (I freaking love those things). There's really no worry on my part about odor or flavor crossover with these items. I'll let you know if I am wrong.

This may be my last load for a while as my trip starts in a couple weeks. I need this load to help fill in a few gaps. I may do another load once I see all my meals and snacks lined up.

rocketsocks
03-24-2017, 19:46
I really don't notice it. There's a number of factors to that. This is our first year in this apartment. We were in a much larger house last year. I could maybe go through and look at my usage but we actually had a pretty cold winter compared to last year in TX so I'm not sure how good that would work out. I don't use this every week or even every month. I kind of go "in spurts" depending on what else is going on. When I get the bill for this month maybe I can see what it's costing us. My gut is that it's not much. I know some people who say that it costs them $1 a day every day they run it, sometimes less. We have a service that shops our electric rates for us and they just switched us so we are paying less than 5 cents/kwh and our first bill was a partial month for less than $21 (I think that was 2 weeks and included some heavy usage). My next bill should have "a lot" of FD usage on it.

SO I just looked up my electric bills:
December was $45 (no A/c usage or heat on that bill!)
January I paid $89 for electric (this covers part of December and part of January, covers heat, cooking, washer/dryer, lights,tv etc). - This was high and there were some actual freezing days through December and January. I did 4 loads in the FDer in all of December, and only 1 at the end of January so not likely more than 4 loads on that bill.

$68 paid in February (maybe 2 loads on this bill)
$24 in March and then $21 in mid march (changed electric companies) possibly no loads on this bill
April will have several loads on the bill. When I get back from my trip in May I will try to match up the bill and the number of loads I ran. We are already using A/C though as we are up to and over 80 degrees here frequently.
I appreciate the feedback, thanks.

PennyPincher
03-26-2017, 21:39
Thought I would post some pictures. Some of them are fuzzy.

I was laying out my meals for my upcoming trip.

First photo is all my lunches and dinners laid out, though my cauliflower "rice" (plain and spanish) and veggies are not in the picture. Many of the meals have veggies in them but several do not.
38869
This is the inventory of the lunches/dinners.
38871

This is my breakfast. 35 packages of Yumminess. 3 large scrambled eggs with homemade (even ground the pork myself) breakfast sausage, mushrooms, and red/yellow peppers. Some have salsa and some have jalapenos. I also have FDed colby cheese not shown to add to eggs or other meals.

38870

Also not shown are my nut mix snacks (simply packed in snack bags) and my FDed bananas (YUM!) and of course my coffee.

A week's food with snacks and all weighs just about 7 lbs. I can easily carry this much if I can figure out how to get it all INTO my pack. LOL. The volume is pretty immense. It takes 2 x 13L sacks! And I don't like things on the outside of my pack. I was hoping to be able to carry as much as 10 days food but that seems about impossible with my current pack (50L).

PennyPincher
04-01-2017, 20:34
I freeze dried bananas, blueberries (bought them frozen) and a few Kiwi. OMG! I need more kiwi. The others are good too. I have more blueberries and raspberries to FD but I think I'll buy some kiwi too!

Hosh
04-01-2017, 22:13
Thanks for taking the time to post all your great results and experiences. If my family was still large, living at home, I might invest in one. Currently my little dehydrator takes care my backpacking needs. In the event of SHTF, I am well armed and a good negotiator,

PennyPincher
04-06-2017, 15:30
Just mailed off my first 2 resupplies. First off I am starting with 4 Days of food plus and extra "meal."

Mailed 4 days to Mountain Crossings. That package weighs 4lbs 6.6oz and includes food, coffee, and snacks. This weight also includes the packaging obviously.

Mailed 5 days to TOG. Weighs 5lb 2.8 oz. It has some other resupply stuff as well.

I will let y'all know how well the food holds up. If I need more or less or got it just right.

Some of the snacks include FDed bananas, blueberries and raspberries plus walnuts and raisins. I need to be careful with those snacks as they raise my blood sugars too much if I eat them all at once.

kestral
07-26-2017, 14:52
FYI if you are one the edge about buying a freeze dryer, harvest right is offering a discount of 500$ with check out code of "save500" until July 31. Still pricy but...

https://harvestright.com/store/