Freeze dryers are a welcome addition to any seasoned prepper’s arsenal. But although there aren’t many options for home use out there, the commercial ones are just as good as long as you know the desired output and your family’s food storage needs.
We have rounded up this list of the best-rated freeze dryers for sale, with handy info on each product’s specs, retail price, and buying tips for you to pick the best freeze dryer for you. Based on our analysis of efficacy, quality, customer service, and general pros and cons, the three best freeze dryers available for home use are the small, medium, and large models from Harvest Right.
Read on to learn about the differences between freeze drying and dehydration, available freeze dryers in the market, ways to know if a freeze dryer is a good investment for you, and expert tips for freeze drying. Basically, we’ve compiled everything there is to know about freeze drying, and we are excited to share!
General Facts About Freeze Dryers
Unlike food dehydrators, which are inexpensive, freeze dryers are pricier but they manage to better preserve food, are more compact and more energy efficient.
Also, the freeze dryers currently for sale in the U.S. make it easy to preserve an enormous variety of healthy and nutritionally dense foods for up to a whopping 25 years. (Here’s how to make a 25-year emergency food supply.)
Note that both dehydrators and freeze dryers pull out moisture from food in order to leave the bacteria and fungi that cause food spoilage without a welcoming environment to thrive and reproduce.
Before refrigerators came on the scene (about a century ago), humanity largely relied on smoking, canning, and dehydration to extend food’s shelf life.
But nowadays, technological advances such as dehydrators and freeze dryers, which have been widely made available to home users as well, enable us to dehydrate food faster, better, and for longer periods of time than what our forefathers were able to pull off.
However, before purchasing any of the machines you should clearly know the top differences between food dehydrators and freeze dryers.
Freeze Dryer vs Dehydrator: What Sets Them Apart
Dehydrators remove moisture from food by creating a hot and dry environment which reduces water content dramatically while preserving the texture, nutritional value, and flavor of the dried food as much as possible.
Unlike regular ovens, food dehydrators can create the perfect temperatures to get the food bone-dry while not actually cooking it.
The end result is either hard and brittle or has a gummy-like texture (that’s because the water content is not completely removed – some dehydrated fruit and veggies may still have as much as 30% water content left).
Freeze dryers are relatively newcomers on the food preservation scene. Freeze drying is a state-of-the-art food preservation method first used for military purposes in the WW II.
Fortunately, now you no longer need bulky high-tech devices to freeze dry your food at home, as freeze dryers are now a lot more compact and commercially available for home use as well.
Freeze dryers will preserve food by abruptly drop the temperature in a vacuum chamber to below zero and then by gradually raising it.
The water in food will rapidly freeze then slowly evaporate, which helps better preserve the texture, flavor, and nutrients in food than a food dehydrator can.
A commercial dehydrator will remove from 90% to 95% of the water content in food while a freeze dryer is designed to strip moisture from food by 98-99%.
It is worth noting that most fruit and veggies are made of 80% to 95% water, while most types of meat contain from 50% to 75% water. Check out our guide to dehydrating meat and preserving dried meat for more info.
When it comes to the nutritional value of preserved food, freeze dryers shine bright. It is estimated that a freeze dryer can preserve around 97% of the initial value of a food, which means that freeze-dried food can be just as nutritious as fresh food.
By contrast, food dehydrators manage to preserve only 50% to 60% of the original nutritional value, mainly because the drying process is not as abrupt as in a freeze dryer, which means that minerals and vitamins have plenty of time to degrade.
By dehydrating food, you’ll lose plenty of vitamin A, C, and the vitamins in the B group (niacin, riboflavin, thiamine, etc.) Freeze-dried food might lack vitamin C, so you should remember to stockpile some.
Average Shelf Life
Beside nutritional value, the shelf life of dried foods is just as important for a prepper. The shelf life largely depends on the amount of moisture removed from the food during the dehydration or freeze-drying processes.
It is estimated that a freeze dryer offers a longer shelf life to foods than a dehydrator. For instance, fruits and vegetables will have an average shelf life of 15 years with a dehydrator and an average shelf life of 25 years with a freeze dryer.
The shelf life of food dried in a DIY dehydrator, however, will have an average shelf life of just 1 year.
Texture and Taste
This is where freeze dryers have made it hands down to the top again. Freeze dried food tastes, looks, and even smells better than dehydrated food because freeze-drying doesn’t require very much heat.
In other words, the nutrients and flavor are preserved withing the food itself, rather than evaporate during the process. The original texture is preserved as well.
In fact, freeze dried foods are so tasty that you can eat them as snacks without re-hydrating them first, which makes them the ideal option for long hikes and bugging-out scenarios.
Also, freeze-dried foods are more lightweight than their dehydrated counterparts, which makes them the perfect choice for ultra-light backpacking and family camping trips.
So, if you’re searching for a freeze dryer for sale and want to know more about your options, we’ve got you covered.
In this article, we’ll review the top three freeze dryers for sale and give you insights on where to find them online.
We’ve also included a helpful buyer’s guide with tips on freeze drying and a checklist to determine if you’re ready to make the financial commitment for such device.
How We Chose Our Ratings
In all transparency, please note that there are few freeze dryers that are designed for home use. Currently, the only company that routinely sells freeze drying machines to the general public is Harvest Right, but that’s not necessarily bad news.
Fortunately, their selection of home freeze dryers for sale are high quality and have so far delivered excellent results across a broad spectrum of users.
We’ve based our ratings in this guide on several different criteria. First, we examined the efficacy of each of the freeze dryers for sale.
Next, we looked at the quality of the end result. Finally, we factored in the customer service aspects of the company to ensure that their line-up is a good place for you to invest your heard-earned cash in the long term.
While we’ve largely based our reviews on these three criteria, we have also included numerous pros and cons for each of the models to help you make an informed decision.
Top 3 Best Freeze Dryers for Sale
The first company to make home freeze dryers and sell them to the public, Harvest Right, is based in the US. They design, engineer, and hand assemble all their products at their Salt Lake City location (which may explain the end product’s steep price).
Harvest Right reportedly spent four years developing their freeze dryers, which resulted in a high-quality product with a 30-day money back guarantee.
Harvest Right has freeze dryers for sale in three sizes: small, medium, and large. In addition, you’ll notice some variability in the load per year and power source among the models.
Here is a summary of the company’s current offers.
Harvest Right Small Freeze Dryer
Perfect for singles or couples, this small freeze dryer is the most compact model. It stands 25 inches tall and sits 16.5 inches wide and 18.5 inches deep.
This compact machine will easily fit on a countertop, side table, or beverage cart. Some users put it in a space designed for a wine refrigerator in their kitchens as well.
The most affordable of the bunch. This model costs just under $2,000 purchased directly from the manufacturer. It comes with a 1-year limited warranty and 30-day refund less a 15% restocking fee and shipping costs.
This machine allows you to freeze dry between four and seven pounds of food per batch. The manufacturer estimates a total of up to 840 pounds annually.
This equates to 195 gallons of fresh food that has its nutrients preserved up to 25 years if done correctly.
It operates with a one-press button, and is easy to use, clean, and maintain. You’ll need to plug it into a traditional American 110-volt outlet.
• Perfect for couples
• Easy to use, clean, and maintain
• Limited storage capacity
The kit comes with everything you need to get started. It includes 50 mylar bags, oxygen absorbers, pump hose, vacuum pump, oil, and filters necessary maintenance together with the manual.
It also includes three trays sized for use in this model.
Harvest Right Medium Freeze Dryer
A larger freeze dryer for sale by Harvest Right is their medium model. Perfect for a family of four, this device stands 30 inches high and sits 20 inches wide and 25 inches deep.
Most users like placing the unit on their countertop, but also find that a side table or beverage cart can comfortably hold the weight.
The step up in size doesn’t equate a significant jump in price with this option.
It retails for just under $2,500, but the manufacturer frequently offers discounted pricing on their website, and you may be able to snag a deal at closer to $2,200 with free shipping included.
Thanks to the larger capacity, you can freeze dry as much as 1,450 pounds of delicious, nutritious, fresh food annually.
At around seven to ten pounds in every batch, you could accumulate up to 312 gallons by years end.
Just like the other Harvest Fresh models, this unit features a one-press button operation that does all the work for you and simply beeps when it’s finished.
It plugs into a standard 110 cold American outlet, and you can even use it with a generator if needed.
• Larger capacity
• Perfect for a family of four
• Easy to use, clean, and maintain
The starter kit includes everything you need to run and operate the machine, as well as 50 mylar bags to kick off your food storage.
In this kit, you’ll also get four trays of various sizes that fit inside the freeze dryer.
Harvest Right Large Freeze Dryer
If you have a large family or are a farmer or gardener who runs a productive field and wants to be able to freeze dry copious amounts of food every week, Harvest Right’s large model might be the best fit for you.
Standing at 32.5 inches high, and sitting 22.5 inches wide and 25.5 inches deep, this option is about twice the size of a mini-fridge. It can still easily sit on a countertop, or on another table or cart for easy access and storage.
The most expensive of the bunch, this model retails just under $3,500. Like the medium option, the manufacturer often runs promotions on their website where you can cash in on significant savings.
You might be able to snag it for under $3,000 if you check regularly.
Thanks to the more substantial dimensions and more powerful machine, this model has tremendous production capacity. You can process up to 2,500 pounds of food per year, loading it up with between 12 and 16 pounds in every fresh food batch.
This equates to around 546 gallons of freeze-dried nutrition annually.
It operates exactly the same as the smaller models made by Harvest Right but does have one significant difference. Rather than a standard 110-volt plug, this model requires a 110 volt NEMA 5-20 (i.e., the three-prong outlet) to use.
It also requires just a bit more energy to operate. The large freeze dryer pulls 16 amps at its peak operation, and averages around ten amps, or 1500 watts every hour it’s in use. You’ll need a dedicated 20 amp circuit to operate the machine.
• Tremendous capacity
• For larger families, farmers, or gardeners
• Requires more power to operate
With this purchase, you’ll get the same 1-year limited warranty, and 30-day money back return policy as you will with all Harvest Right products.
It also comes with the standard starter kit and five aluminum trays sized for the unit.
BONUS Commercial Option:
Labconco 700201000 Free Zone Benchtop
To give you a comparison of freeze dryer for sale designed for home and commercial use, we’ve included the Labconco 700201000 model on our list.
Priced at upwards of $7,600, it’s a commercial freeze dryer that’s available for purchase on Amazon. You can also find it at other retailers like Grainger for comparable pricing.
• Sturdy build and quality materials
• Perfect for couples
• Easy to use clean and maintain
• Limited storage capacity
• A lot pricier than Harvest Right
This offers a similar capacity to that of the small model from Harvest Right and has similar specifications. It measures about 17 inches tall, 14.5 inches wide, and 19.5 inches deep and has a 2.5-liter holding capacity.
It has a standard North American plug. Although it is used in commercial settings for freeze drying samples, it can easily be used for food storage.
Buyer’s Guide to the Best Freeze Dryers for Sale
Although a freeze dryer is a significant investment, it can save money long-term if you choose the right option for your family. Here are some helpful tips for buying the perfect freeze dryer for sale.
How to Know if You Need a Freeze Dryer
- There’s a need to store healthy, nutritionally dense food for the long-term for you and your family
- Your household has food allergies or specific dietary needs that could be problematic in emergency situations
- You need access to ready-made meals that are quick and easy to prepare on a regular basis
- The love for fresh, seasonal produce, but don’t want to pay the cost of purchasing out of season
- You want to preserve and store food from harvests for future use
- There’s a need to store a significant amount of food without taking up loads of space in your home
Situations Where Freeze Dried Food Is Handy
A crucial component of prepping is taking the time to think through all the different scenarios for which you may need to be prepared. These are a few where freeze-dried food is a lifesaver.
- If you need to get out of town quickly- freeze dried food is lightweight and offers a lot of nutritional value in every portion
- When you do barter or trade- having something different and unique on hand can make the transaction easier
- Nutrition is a major concern- if you’re training for an event, or have specific dietary needs because of a condition or illness, freeze-dried foods allow you to maintain your nutrition plan regardless of the circumstances
Expert Tips for Perfect Freeze Drying
Once you’ve made your freeze dryer purchase, you’ll want to get the biggest bang for your buck with the new equipment.
Here are a few ways that you can ensure you get it right every time.
Be Extremely Picky About What Fresh Foods You Use
We’ve all heard the expression, “you get out what you put in,” and it’s particularly true when it comes to freeze-drying. Start with only the freshest ingredients, and never use meat or vegetables that are on the cusp of rotting.
The process will preserve not only the nutrients but also the flavor, so make sure the taste is good from start to finish.
You can freeze dry nearly every food item. Fruits, vegetables, and meats are most common but think outside the box for some delicious surprises.
Things like your favorite cooked comfort foods and entrees, desserts like ice cream, whole pies, or cookies, fresh eggs, or other dairy products like sour cream and yogurt are unconventional choices that will be extremely popular should you ever need to break into your stores.
Although freeze-drying isn’t particularly difficult, it is a time-consuming process, so make sure that time is well spent on good quality foods.
Be Ready When The Batch Is Done
The sooner you can remove your completed freeze dried foods from the machine and get them sealed in mylar bags equipped with oxygen absorbers, the better.
Not only will this ensure you have the best flavor, but it will give you the longest possible shelf life too.
Only Load The Dryer With What It Can Handle
Take note of the capacity for the size of the dryer you purchase and ensure that you never overload it.
This way, you won’t end up with a sub-par finished product, or worse, an uncontrollable mess if something goes really wrong.
Although a freeze dryer isn’t an inexpensive addition to your prepping wheelhouse, it can be an invaluable one. The right freeze dryer for sale will yield impressive results.
It will give you hundreds of gallons of food annually that you can use for emergency situations or simply, use on a weekly basis to prepare healthy meals without a lot of fuss.
Look for the right option of freeze dryer for sale. Get the right size and offers the correct capacity for your needs.
Know that it may take some time to see the return on your investment fully, but that it is possible in less than a year if you use it regularly.
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Hi, I’m Gabriela and I’m a prepping freak with a knack for frugal living – as if you could have one without the other. I’m also interested in all things DIY, green living, and homesteading. I’ve been dreaming of a self-sufficient, one-acre organic farm ever since I realized how fragile urban life really is. It takes one push of a button for millions to be left without running water. It takes no more than a four- to seven-day disruption in a city’s food supply for complete mayhem to break out. So, I’m now dutifully working toward keeping my loved ones safe when the brown matter (inevitably) hits the oscillating ceiling device, but I also like to share what I’m learning with fellow likeminded folks as I go.
How can you say $7,600 is cheaper than the Harvest Right????
Interesting information, but how is a $7,000+ machine cheaper than a <$3500 machine?
I want to know the price of your machine.
Jenny Sandifer says
We are thinking of running a small business of ready eat food. So once the food is cooked, and freeze dried, what The customers need to do when they take the packets home? Just adding hot water ?
Tammy Brady says
I have been wanting to get a harvest right Freeze Dried are but they are reviews that said the staff doesn’t work with you very well and people have them break down and can’t seem to get them fixed
Robert Taylor says
that is right if your machine break down and they might send you a part to fix it but will not replace the machine even though it is new they are terrible about that.
Nadine Roberts says
Tammy, I have heard the same thing from many other people. I won’t get a Harvest right.
Dan Hayes says
Read the article again. It is stated in the review of the Labconco 700291000 Free Zone Benchtop commercial and home use freeze dryer under Cons: It’s alot pricier than the Harvest Right.
Karen Halla says
One year guarantee for the Harvest Right is a definite negative. Very expensive for only one year. They don’t have any competition so I guess they can get away with that.
Don Cox says
FYI: We purchased a HR (medium size) back when there was only one size (4yrs ?). Two years ago we ordered a oil-less pump – waited a year before getting it. Now that we have had it for a year, it has been working. The oil-less pump is high capacity and pumps down into the negative range (gauge reading). The system does a good job drying. I would purchase the dryer again: only if I get the oil-less pump and would purchase from one of the dealers. Factory service has always been lacking, both in product knowledge and motivation. My bride tries to keep the system working with few breaks. We have dried (packaged, inventoried, and boxed) several hundred pounds of lean meats (including fish, chicken, turkey, beef, lamb, and pork), vegetables, and fruits (not jam/jelly). We haven’t put up any ice-cream because it gets eaten before we can package it. 🙂
Judy Montague says
I have had Harvest Right’s medium freeze dryer for almost 2 years now with great product outcomes for fresh fruit and vegetables in season (except green beans, crowder, purple hull and cranberry peas; I prefer traditional home pressure canned). It’s difficult to keep your hands out of the fresh cut freeze dried corn, eat it’s like popcorn for a snack! Whole boneless chicken pieces (thighs, breast, tenders) are rather ‘dry, chewy’ rehydrated, but shredded chicken is quite good with BBQ or Teriyaki sauce. Ground beef and ground pork, turkey (cooked) is great for very quick spaghetti sauces, sloppy joes etc.; Cuts of cooked whole beef rehydrate well for soups, stewed recipes, braised with sauces or gravies, but aren’t quite ‘up to snuff’ as a steak or plain roasted. Haven’t tried freeze dried uncooked meats as of yet. I DID try ice cream sandwiches, okay as a novelty but much prefer the real thing, BUT in a long term emergency (is that an oxymoron??) would be a welcome treat. My grands initially liked it but wasn’t interested in more. Sourdough starter is wonderful ‘powdered’, just make sure the pan is lined with parchment or wax paper for easier removal to decrease the potential to scratch up your VERY EXPENSIVE PANS.. I line my pans for everything for easier removal and cleanup. Threaten death by strangling if anyone dares to use your trays for any other purpose or in the oven! Dehydrated herbs and leafy veggies are also wonderful. I have provided 2 grand babies freeze dried ‘powdered’ baby food reconstituted with water or juice until they were ready for table/finger food; my sons and DIL’s were grateful to know they were feeding their babes Grandma’s pure, fresh additive-free fruits and veggies as their first solids.
Fresh freeze dried pineapple is addicting to the point my mouth gets irritated! Bottom line, it’s been well worth the investment for me even as a widow living alone. I surprised my sister who lives on a farm in Arkansas with one and she uses practically 24/7.