New to Home Freeze Drying? Tips for Beginners

Lisa Barker
Lisa Barker

By Lisa Barker, Guest Blogger

When I first began playing with my freeze dryer and experimenting with different foods, my excitement to be able to freeze dry in my own kitchen was . . . extreme, to say the least.

I quickly realized the need to put some method to my freeze drying frenzy. Here are some of the things that I learned in the process to help new home freeze dryers like me get the most out of their experience.

Start with the Simple Stuff

sage and basilI decided to first try foods that I felt pretty sure that I would have success with as a beginner, giving me experience using the appliance and confidence to think about other possibilities. I suggest this approach for anyone with a new freeze dryer.

For me, this meant starting with lettuces and herbs because I knew they would be fairly straight-forward.

As expected, the cilantro, basil and other leafy goodies that I put into the freeze dryer came out great, and, by giving myself a good idea of what to expect from the appliance, I learned the ropes enough to feel good about moving on to the next stage.

Freeze Dry Things You Need On Hand

Next I decided to think about the cooking ingredients that I never seem to have on hand when I’m trying to make something and don’t want to make a special trip to the store. I suspect that most cooking enthusiasts have an ingredient or two like this that never seems to be close by when they need it.

I decided to freeze dry some ginger because I have a love for cooking and eating Asian food but often don’t keep ginger in the house. I did a tray of slivered ginger, another tray of shredded ginger, and a third tray of small pieces that I could easily crush into ginger powder for meals and jars and such. Project done!

I like to think I’m a creative person, but my left brain needs to work out the cooking process ahead of time to free up my mind and allow my creative side to take over. After freeze drying all that ginger in different ways and knowing it was there, I found myself cooking those delicious Asian dishes that I love more often.

Dry the Foods You Love

sliced freeze dried avocado and chips and guacamole

I love the texture of a perfectly ripe avocado, but, as we all know, they can go from perfect to mushy in just a few hours.

This is something I hadn’t really even considered a possibility until the people at Harvest Right mentioned how surprisingly good freeze-dried avocados are, and they were right. Freeze drying is a great way to make sure they are always perfect!

For many years I’ve been the only member of my family that loves and eats avocados. I’ve got my older daughter coming along on her taste exploration, but usually an avocado will go mushy before I can get around to eating the whole thing, meaning that we usually end up using it for face masks!

Now I have a sealed jar of freeze-dried avocado slices to snack on any time I want. I just pull them out, place them in a colander, spritz them with water, and allow them to sit for a few minutes. With one last spritz they’re ready to add into a salad with a great, fresh taste and texture. I have also been creating guacamole kits with the avocados, tomatoes, and onions that I freeze dry, making it easy to have fresh guacamole any time of the year. Oh, the possibilities!


We haven’t seemed to have this problem much. (We do slice them pretty fast, though.) We would suggest putting them in cool water, like we do apples, but without the lemon juice. The water will only serve to keep the air away from the avocado and not alter taste. We also recommend cooling the freeze dryer as the avocado is prepared and load each tray right into the already cold freeze dryer once each tray is ready. One last thing, we slice one quarter of an avacado at a time, leaving the other cut surfaces against the cutting board as much as possible. These are our best tips. Hope this helps!

Lisa, I appreciate your efforts and all that you do to get people aware of the possibilities that are available to those that are interested in preparing for the future and all that it may bring. The possibilities are only just beginning and the freeze drying is young only slowed by the lack of imagination on our part. Your knowledge is founded in your pursuit of different ways to accomplish your goal in food preparation. I too am new to the freeze drier and love it’s simplicity and It’s possibilities. Keep up the good work and good luck with your work. Thank you.

You can just add an oxygen absorber. Some people use a vacuum sealer, but an oxygen absorber is the easiest way to ensure the food is protected for long-term storage.

New to freeze drying. In the part of the country I live in we will begin to harvest some veggies in the next few months. When the harvest begins in earnest in the June/July time frame there will be more coming out of the garden then the freeze dryer can keep up with. You normally blanch veggies prior to freezing long term. If my plan is to freeze short term to hold the veggies until their tern in the FD, do I need to blanch? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

If you are freezing short term, then blanching isn’t typically necessary. Some customers like to do a quick blanch just to be safe.

Most veggies don’t need blanching, but it does help for potatoes as they can go black when they oxidize.

Norm, the time to freeze dry varies based on how much water is in the food and how much food you put on the trays (it holds 8 to 10 pounds per batch). Things with less water (bananas, turkey and ham slices) generally take about 20 to 24 hours, things with more water or high sugar content can take closer to 36 hour or even 40 hours. But, most things fall within the 24 to 36 hour time period. The cost of the freeze dryers varies, but we have an amazing special going on right now at and you can get one as low as $2,995.

I’ve been FD’ing for 9 months now. I do a variety with some prices ie: Avocado- I have dried slices, whole halves, broken halves/slices into small pieces or tossed in my food chopper/processor and made powdered Avocado. I learned more recently to even FD the pits. I chop after and blend until powdered as they’re full of nutrients. Not so tasting so toss a tablespoon into a smoothy or spaghetti sauce or whatever. Great for lowering BP.

I have a tool for scooping out avocado halves. It’s quick. I cut ALL my avocados in half, THEN START to remove the pits, then scoop each and lay flat surface on tray. When tray is full, I slice them all quickly on the tray and push down to flatten more with my hands. Not the prettiest but I don’t care. Takes me minutes to do a large FD tray. Pop it into the freezer immediately and they stay nice and green. Freezer to FD. Come out green.

I just chopped up ginger into little chunks tonight b/c I want to powder it later. I’ve minced it and froze in small(tiny) silicone molds and then put into a jar for cooking later.

Cheese I slice as I use lactose free cheese and it FD’s well. No need to shred.

Blueberries are one of the harder foods to freeze dry since they contain a lot of sugar and they have that tough outer skin (some varieties of blueberries seem to do better than others). But, one important step is to make sure you break the skin of each blueberry (poke them with toothpick, skewer, etc). To make it easier, a lot of customers put them in them in a blender/food processor and give them a quick chop before freeze drying. Or, you could slice them in half, which takes a bit more prep time, depending how many blueberries you need to freeze dry. (Make sure you put the cut-side facing up so the moisture can escape.) Then pre-freeze and add a little extra dry time on a batch of blueberries.

Depending what you plan to use them in, you could also blend them and make a blueberry puree to freeze dry. You can use it just the same as you would blueberries; flavor oatmeal, muffins, pancakes, cereal, etc…even eat it crunchy. It just wouldn’t be in the shape of a blueberry.

I watched a video on youtube, a guy used a Jaccard meat tenderizer to punch holes in the frozen blueberries before putting them in the freeze drier.

How long does it take to freeze dry cheese? Our new freeze dryer keeps stopping before 24 hours and we have had to add more drying time. I know I’m new just bought it this year. The cheese I just removed was extremely cold I don’t know what to look for in the good.

Evan Rowell on YouTube did a video series on freeze drying cheese. Most cheeses need to be shredded so air can get all around each bit. If your food is cold then it likely has moisture / ice still in it and you need to add more dry time. It feels different than having just the tray cold and the food room temp ish if the cycle finished before you could return to the machine. 24hrs is just a starting point. Most of my cycles in my large unit are 30-36hrs when starting with chilled but not frozen food. Good luck!

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