I bought the Harvest Right Home Freeze Dryer for my wife, for her birthday. When I ordered it I got a confirmation email that said it would be about 14 days till it shipped. About 14 days it was. She was thrilled when it arrived. It only took about an hour to get it unpacked and set up. We were anxious to try it out. The first things we loaded it with was some left over mashed potatoes, hamburger gravy and some cooked ground beef. We turned it on and waited, and waited and waited. The freezing cycle completed without a hitch. The drying cycle on the other hand didn’t. It sat with the display showing “cooling” and “520 mT” for about 36 hours. I sent Harvest Right and email about the problem and while I waited for a response I rechecked and tightened all the vacuum fittings. One fitting I was able to tighten just a tiny bit but that must have been the problem because the display immediately started showing “Drying” and the timer started counting down. Great.
By the way, Harvest Right called me on the phone in less that an hour. We talked about the problem and was told that a technician would give me a call. The technician called me in less than 30 minutes. Not only did he call me in less than 30 minutes but he gave me a direct number to reach him. When he called I let him know what I had done and that everything seemed to be working fine now.
One has to remember that although the drying timer starts out at 7 hours it will take longer than that. The Drying timer will reset several times before it will count down the 7 hours. So in reality it will take about 10 hours for the drying cycle. Ok, not a problem. Also, after the drying cycle ends there is a 20 minute cool down timer. Since we had the glitch with the drying cycle that took so long we couldn’t figure out how long it takes for a load. Our first load had taken over 48 hours.
We were quite pleased with the results of the first load. The ground beef reconstituted well had the consistency, texture and taste of freshly cooked ground beef. The mashed potatoes came back very tasty and the hamburger gravy although a little thin tasted great. We were off to a bit rocky but tasty start.
The second load we filled it with 2 pounds of shredded Jack cheese and 2 pounds of shredded Cheddar cheese. (I believe that cheese will be hard to come by in a post apocalyptic world.) We turned it on and went to bed. When we got up the next morning there was a puddle of oil under the freeze dryer. Once again I got a hold of Harvest right. They told me it sounded like a vacuum leak. We talked a bit and from our conversation I realized that I had not been closing the door all the way. You see, you close the door and turn the handle and it stops, but you have to turn the handle another half turn to get the door closed all the way. The oil had blown out the vent of the vacuum pump. We topped off the oil and ran the rest of the cycle with the door closed properly the rest of that load finished without a problem and the cheese turned out wonderful.
Ok, so far all the problems have been caused by me. Harvest Right has been awesome in helping me get things working right.
The third load we did was celery and carrots. Put them in turned it on and about 26 hours later had perfectly freeze dried carrots and celery. They reconstituted great and tasted just like we had just brought them home from the store. We have ran several more loads since then and each one has been prefect. Average time per load is about 26 hours. The only problem we have had since then is that we did a mixed batch of bananas and blueberries. The bananas were great but some of the blueberries didn’t completely dry. Not sure why but we will keep experimenting.
By the way, bananas, if you have had dehydrated banana chips and were left disappointed by the taste, or lack thereof. Freeze dried banana chips are great. They taste just like bananas. Either reconstituted or right out of the freeze dryer. They make a great, healthy, nutritious snack.
To sum it up. I know that the cost of the freeze dryer at $4,000 is a bit pricey for a lot of people but believe me it is well worth it. We have done some math and we figure that if we were buying #10 cans of what we are freeze drying ourselves it would cost us about three times as much. We have bought some #10 cans before we bought the freeze dryer and the Harvest Right freeze dryer will pay for itself in less than a year. Not to mention that you can freeze dry things you can’t buy in #10 cans. Like … left-overs. What a great thing to do with left-overs that would otherwise be tossed out.
We have a lot more experimenting to do but so far I can honestly say I am extremely happy with Harvest Right and the Harvest Right freeze dryer and so is my wife. The customer service is great, some of the best I have ever seen. The freeze dryer itself is well constructed and easy to use. You can remove the door seal and slide the whole tray shelf out for a through cleaning. There is nothing that I can say negative about the company or the product. Well one thing. The manual could be a little better but that seems to be a fault with most products these days. Customer service more than makes up for it though. I finally found a birthday present that my wife absolutely loves.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone and everyone.