Tips to Freeze-Dry Like a Pro

a woman in a kitchen preparing food next to an aqua blue freeze dryer

No matter what food you decide to freeze dry, there are some techniques that will make sure your food comes out exactly the way you want. Follow these tips to produce pretty, flavorful, and healthy freeze-dried snacks.

  • Cut fruits and vegetables into evenly sized portions. If you plan to eat individual pieces one at a time, make sure that you settle on a size that you (and your family) can tackle in one bite.
  • Some foods may stick to the trays; so, if you wish you can use parchment paper, silicon mat, or dehydrating mats to line trays before placing the food to be dried.
  • Lay food in one, even layer before placing in the freeze dryer. This will ensure consistency and leave every piece perfectly ready for storage or use in a recipe.
  • Pre-freeze foods in your regular freezer. This is especially helpful when the dryer is on or when there is a great sale. You can freeze your abundance and run it through the freeze dryer when the unit is available. It’s also smart if you don’t have enough food to run the dryer and need to buy some time.
  • Foods that have a high sugar content or a thick membrane (like blueberries) can sometimes take longer to freeze dry. Think about the foods that take awhile to really freeze in your regular freezer and those are some of the foods that will take longer to freeze dry. So, foods such as ice cream, fresh pineapple pieces and juicy peaches may do better when you increase the freeze time to 12 hours  and the dry time to 12 hours.freeze dried chocolate dipped ice cream and strawberries
  • If you plan to freeze dry ice cream, make sure to get high-quality brands. Some ice cream has air whipped into it and it crystallizes in your freeze dryer. It’s still edible, just not as pretty.
  • Foods that have a thick membrane make it difficult for moisture to be released. Cutting or exposing the insides of foods like blueberries, grapes and cherry tomatoes will make the freeze drying process go much smoother.

Whether you’re worried about wasting food or looking for quick, easy ways to eat healthy on the go or during outdoor excursions and camping trips, freeze drying is worth looking into. You’ll discover a whole new way to look at food and its longevity when you give freeze drying a try.

a gummy bear next to a freeze dried gummy bear

Now that you know what freeze drying can do, what other unusual foods and meals would you like to try freeze dry? There’s always a conversation on our Facebook page so Like us and join in!

Comments

How do you do asparagus? Ours never turns out right. Longer freezing? Or longer drying time? Ours seems to shrivel up.

If the food shrivels, that is an indication that a longer freeze is a good idea. Additionally, we did a quick 2-3 minute blanch on our asparagus. Many customers prefer to freeze dry it raw.

First, do a quick blanch for 3-4 minutes and cut the corn off the cob. Then simply pile it the height of the trays. It is yummy as a dry snack or perfect rehydrated and used as fresh corn from the cob in soups, stews, or as a side dish.

Blanching helps keep the color of the freeze dried process and also will aid with quick rehydration. It isn’t something that must be done, but helps make for a better finished product. Vegetables that are purchased in the frozen at the store are typically blanched beforehand.

Hello, what is the average freeze drying temperature? When I put my frozen strawberries in the freeze dryer, i want to start the vacuum ans set the temp to a value where i can directly sublimate water in them. Can you help me with it?

What is your recommendation for preparing SEEDED grapes? Do I have to cut the seeds out is my main concern. Thanks!

We have customers who do it both ways. It is mostly a preference (and might depend what you plan to use the finished product for). You can blanch them in hot water to get the peels off easier (or just leave the peels on), then just slice them, pre-freeze them, and stick them in the freeze dryer. You will likely see a quicker batch time by removing the skin.

I am interested in freeze drying grapes and blueberries. I am not clear whether these will work well in the freeze dryer if I give it the extra time recommended.

Grapes and blueberries are tricky to freeze dry because they are high in sugar and water content and they have a tough outer skin. For grapes, cut them smaller than just halves (all grapes should be cut, regardless). And be sure to put them skin-side down on the trays (so the moisture can escape). It helps to pre-freeze them before loading your freeze dryer. And, depending on the size of your batch, grapes can take up to 48+ hours (sometimes more, depending on a different variables). Best to start with just the default times and then add more time, if necessary.

Blueberries also contain a lot of sugar and they have that tough outer skin. But, same as grapes, it is important that 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.) 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’ve nave freeze dried, but this works for dehydration. I use one of those onion slicer pronged things (you slice the onions between the tongs). Just jab at a bowl full of blueberries, and it skewers several blueberries at once that you can then just slide into the tray. Every blueberry has a hole on each side. Very fast

Elderberries are typically very small, and I’ve seen some who freeze dried them without puncturing. But, batches will take longer if not punctured (or chopped). I’ve put them in the food processor/blender to help chop them open before freeze drying, it works really well (and it’s easy!).

How do prep clementines/cuties? If you peel them and pull them apart into segments, do you still have to puncture the skin or cut them open or will they FD fine as the small individual segments?

We prefer to slice our citrus fruits after they are peeled. This exposes the inside and makes it so that the water will come out more easily.

This is possible to do with our pharmaceutical freeze dryers, but not our home freeze dryers. Temperatures that low aren’t good for freeze drying food because it increases batch times.

I just freeze dried ice cream sandwiches and it came out a mess. I did it once and it came out great. I don’t know what I did. Can you leave me detailed instructions on how to do it on my new 2021 Harvest Right Freeze drier.

With ice cream it is important to work quickly and put the ice cream on the trays quickly and then back in your freezer. We recommend putting all four trays in your freezer overnight before putting them in your freeze dryer. This will assure that they are very frozen before processing.

Youtube’s Retired at 40 showed a Professional Meat Tenderizer with 56 sharp pointed blades you push down for piercing grapes, blueberries, green beans, etc. for freeze-drying. I bought mine from Amazon, about $14.00. Saves a lot of cutting and individual piercing!

I love picking my black elderberry and making elderberry sauce. Has anyone tried with any success freeze drying elderberry sauce? There is honey added to it to thicken the sauce and I do know that honey doesn’t freeze dry. Any tips?

I have dried orange slices. They look great coming out of the drier, then they rehydrate in the bag which has an oxygen packet. Any tips?

Citrus fruits are one of the few items where it is always important to add extra dry time. This is due to the unique cellular structure of citrus. Lemons and limes are good to add some extra time to as well.

If you have a newer model within the past 2 years this is not necessary. Your freeze dryer will automatically sense what to do.

Some of my potatoes Yells turned black are they ok . Am I need to cook the potties longer just put in the freeze dryer . Not sure what happened,
First I believe I have not said this before second I ned help

What dry temp do I use for strawberries? Bc does from 125-145 I think. Like for some candy I do at 125 and gummi candy at 145. I’m lost lol

We bought our medium sized Harvestright freeze dryer about two months ago and are still in the “honeymoon phase”. We’ve been running our machine daily and experimenting on everything. We can’t seem to keep a good stash of our favorite fruits like bananas and apples. One of our goal is to eliminate one of our chest freezers by freeze drying everything. Were probably half way there.

We’ve tried processing cooked meatloaf, hamburger patties, spaghetti, chicken fried rice, sausage patties, fruit pies, raw sweet corn, peas, green peppers, raspberries, etc. all with great success. We had issues with mangoes, pineapples. I’ve experimented on these by increasing the drying temperatures. I also realized that in doing so there is less defrost time needed between cycles.

My first time with pineapple wasn’t great since I put frozen pineapple on room temp trays in a a 30 min pre-freeze cycle. I didn’t dry it long enough as it was moist in the center and it was also covered with crystals that look like ice crystals but felt dry and warm. Did much better the second time when I put them on the trays in the freezer overnight and added 12 hours to dry time past the cycle.

I have a 2015-2016 model freeze dryer.
1- how do I get extra trays and accessories?
2- how do I customize freeze/dry times like I hear others do?

Thanks-

Hi Christine,

The extra trays and accessories will fit your model of freeze dryer great! Depending on which version of freeze dryer you have we may be able to update your software to the newest version for added customization. You would need to call our great customer service team for that.

How do i know if my cream sauce chicken chunks are done? Chicken is very dry and crunchy. Sauce is powdery buy kinda spongy but powdery. I think its fine, but am new at this.
Thanks
Carla

I’ve never freeze dried, but this works for dehydration. I use one of those onion slicer pronged things (you slice the onions between the tongs). Just jab at a bowl full of blueberries, and it skewers several blueberries at once that you can then just slide into the tray. Every blueberry has a hole on each side. Very fast

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