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What Do I Need To Freeze Dry
I didn’t think I would need so many freeze drying tools.
There have been times when my husband wants to get a tool, and he will say: “It’s not something that you would use all the time, but something that when you need it, it’s nice to have.”
For example, his sprinkler valve key wrench–he needs that twice a year to open the water pipe to the sprinkler system in the Spring and close it in the Fall. Nothing else works quite the same.
Another tool he uses is called a Ramset. It takes a .22 blank and shoots a nail into a furring strip and into cement for building a wall in a basement for instance. Without it, you can hammer the nail in, but it will usually just crumble the cement and take chunks out of it.
Another one he has, is called a Squeak-ender. It’s a little tool that helps you screw a special screw that is scored in sections, into a squeaky place on your floor and it breaks it off just beneath the carpet into the flooring and helps stop squeaks.
What Can I Use For Freeze Drying
Well, I feel the same about my little tools that help make things a bit easier, and I’ve tried quite a few while using my HarvestRight freeze dryer.
Some of the best tools are those that the company sends with it, but that you can also order extras of.
The HarvestRight trays which are really nice. They are stainless steel and great for baking as well as freeze drying.
And I LOVE the silicone mats. I bought 8 more trays and 12 silicone mats, giving me 12 of each and I’m so glad that I did–I keep them full at all times!
The other tool that comes with the machine is the Impulse Bag Sealer. You simply can’t seal the Mylar bags without this! It’s invaluable and I usually seal the bags 2 and often 3 times across the top to make sure no air leaks into my food. I want the security of knowing I have a full 25 years of storage!
Some people have reported using an iron or a curling iron or a straight iron. These can work, they apply heat, what’s not to work? But sometimes these types of things that have a specific job are the more convenient choice. The impulse sealer has a changeable timer that you can set for each item you use. So, shorter amounts of time for thinner Mylar bags, longer for thicker.
Having a cupboard just for supplies, air tight snack jars, bottles to temporarily vacuum seal to put extra food that’s not quite enough to fill a Mylar bag, is important to me so I can keep my counters clear and neat.
What Items Are Worth Getting
Plastic flexible cutting mats are a necessity. Not a day goes by that I don’t use these!
And this roll up stainless steel drain is so handy when it comes to washing and draining vegetables, fruits and berries! It rolls up neatly to store upright under the sink. I got the extra large that covers my standard sink.
I’m so glad I grabbed some silicone molds to use for freeze drying. This mini cupcake mold holds 1 1/2 tablespoons. I have pre-frozen finger Jell-o, yogurt, and applesauce in them so far. I’m going to mash a small layer of edible brownie dough in the bottom with ice cream on top of that, pre-freeze, then freeze dry them that way. Sounds good, huh?
This is a silicone mini loaf mold. Each slot holds 1/4 cup. I’ve pre-frozen applesauce in these. That amount when re-hydrated is a nice little serving for a baby or child. Cake could be baked in these, then frozen, and then freeze dried.
This is a silicone cupcake size mold. It holds 1/3 cup. I utilized everything I had for all the applesauce I made and they all worked out great for that and yogurt–anything that you want to maintain in portions.
Tools To Help With The Impossible
These are silicone baking sheets for bacon. They allow the grease to drip from bacon and they do a good job. You need to turn the bacon once while cooking in the oven, then drain well on paper towels. When freeze drying, use paper towels to line tray and also put it on top so you can do a double or triple layer. That will soak up remaining grease so it will freeze dry. It may not last as long as other foods, but if you use a good Oxygen Absorber, it shouldn’t go rancid without oxygen and light.
This is a hamburger meat chopper I got for each of my daughter in laws and daughters for Christmas last year. I love mine. It chops up burger and onions so they freeze dry nicely. I’ve done regular burger, burger and onions, and taco meat (with seasonings). Bonnie and I like to cook our meats so they are ready to eat.
I grab this stainless steel spatula for most anything that is going to powder. This is boiled down roast elk broth for a soup base. I’ve done raw eggs, sour cream, tomato sauce, evaporated milk and many other liquid-like things that I have needed to scrape from my trays. This does a good job of scraping.
This 10 section apple corer/slicer is the perfect thickness for doing apples or pears With my 8 section one, I always had to add extra final dry time.
If you want pear halves or other sizes and do it with a knife, this pear corer is something I love and have used for many years. It does the job in one swift motion.
A good knife is a must. I like my Chicago cutlery–they hold an edge and sharpen nicely.
Great Tools For Post-Freeze Drying
To powder most anything I use my potato masher in a bowl. I’ve done raspberry puree, blackberry puree, raw egg powder, tomato sauce, spaghetti sauce, sour cream, evaporated milk, Cool Whip, yogurt, avocado and cream cheese.
My herb scissors are a life-saver when it comes to harvesting my chives and cilantro!
This is a popcorn scoop/bagger. It makes the job quicker when you scoop up the food and funnel it into the bag! I’ve used it for chunky foods, but I think it will work even with powdery things just by putting the spout down further in the bag.
Tools I Haven’t Loved
My big fail was this honeycomb uncapping tool. I envisioned it effortlessly poking each blueberry, but you have to add enough pressure to do that and the berries just stuck on the prongs. I had to then pull them all off–it didn’t work! So, I’m back to using little crab forks while watching TV!
An Absolute Must
Other than oxygen absorbers and Mylar bags, that we have to just keep shopping around for because most are made in China (which are VERY important to have on hand) my last little tool has to be my permanent Sharpie! Without labeling everything, we’d be lost!