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I wanted other members to know about a great site I found for freeze-dried food. Its called http://www.foodinsurance.com/

They have payment plans to make it easier to build a food stock. I have ordered from them and the service is excellent. If anyone has any questions about my experience with them, please feel free to ask me. I have no stake whatsoever in them and just want to pass on a resource that has helped me build my supply and put my mind at ease.
 

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The website is very well done but the prices seem a little high to me. How tasty is their food?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The website is very well done but the prices seem a little high to me. How tasty is their food?
Their food is good. As a rule, you receive Mountain House, but they will sometimes substitute if Mountain House is not available. After checking a bunch of other sites, I thought their prices were good. I like the fact that I didn't have to pick out each individual item. I also like that you receive a bonus when you purchase a long term supply. I only wish that they offered a payment plan for all of the items on their site. Although I didn't do it, you can suspend the plan if you are short on money and they resume shipment when you make your next payment. I'm not sure, but they may be willing to break it down more.
 

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We haven't used our Excalibur in years; however, I would love to have one of those Harvest Right Freeze Dryers. SurvivalBlog had a very favorable review of the product some time ago. Maybe when we win the lottery......
 

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Internet Princess
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We haven't used our Excalibur in years; however, I would love to have one of those Harvest Right Freeze Dryers. SurvivalBlog had a very favorable review of the product some time ago. Maybe when we win the lottery......
I'd love one of those if I ever have the extra money. I use our Excalibur constantly when we are harvesting from the garden. That's the easiest way to store lots of the veggies.
 

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When this thread was started in 2012 I had about 10 Augason Farms 30 day buckets. Now I own enough Augason Farms 30 day buckets that I (should) get an annual stockholders report and a dividends check. They were about $55 each when this thread started and now run closer to $85. Since they have a 25 year shelf life I have to start eating them in 2032 or so, presuming the world doesn't come to a crashing halt before then.
 

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When this thread was started in 2012 I had about 10 Augason Farms 30 day buckets. Now I own enough Augason Farms 30 day buckets that I (should) get an annual stockholders report and a dividends check. They were about $55 each when this thread started and now run closer to $85. Since they have a 25 year shelf life I have to start eating them in 2032 or so, presuming the world doesn't come to a crashing halt before then.
There are to many things in the buckets we don't like or my kid can't eat. I buy the Augason farms stuff but as ingredients. Not meals.
 
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I have maybe two or three "food buckets". Mostly I buy the ingredient cans from Emergency Essentials and not the meal buckets. They also have the smaller sized cans for things I like to have like butter powder, dough enhancer, margerine powder. Then I don't have to open a #10 can right away.
I use my excaliber alot. Bought a bunch of Roma tomatoes this week for 50 cents a lb and filled it up twice. I grind the dried tomatoes for tomato powder to use for sauce or paste. We had chocolate zucchini bread on the menu at the school today, and I needed to make 4 loaves for snacktime. I didn't have fresh, so I brought a jar in of home shredded dehydrated; I added water and used that. I dry alot of zucchini in the summer to last the year.
 

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I have maybe two or three "food buckets". Mostly I buy the ingredient cans from Emergency Essentials and not the meal buckets. They also have the smaller sized cans for things I like to have like butter powder, dough enhancer, margerine powder. Then I don't have to open a #10 can right away.
I use my excaliber alot. Bought a bunch of Roma tomatoes this week for 50 cents a lb and filled it up twice. I grind the dried tomatoes for tomato powder to use for sauce or paste. We had chocolate zucchini bread on the menu at the school today, and I needed to make 4 loaves for snacktime. I didn't have fresh, so I brought a jar in of home shredded dehydrated; I added water and used that. I dry alot of zucchini in the summer to last the year.
Have you tried the vanilla powder? It smells awesome!
 

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Dehydrated fresh pineapple never makes it to storage. Tastes too good.
 

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I like the strawberries and apples and hubby likes the bananas and LOVES the blueberries.
 

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There are to many things in the buckets we don't like or my kid can't eat. I buy the Augason farms stuff but as ingredients. Not meals.
When I first got started the Augason buckets seemed perfect. Lots of good tasting food, no corn syrup, 100 gal water filter, FireOn disc and all in a sealed bucket. Plus I could buy one or two a month and stack 'em up in the storage room. When I only had 8-10 or so I could easily bug out with them. Eventually I diversified food stores but never stopped buying those buckets. Like I have said many times, I would not want to live on an Augason Farms food bucket and I don't follow the "store what you eat" theory. I eat grilled NY Strip steaks with grilled bacon wrapped asparagus and a side salad. Does not prep as easily as these buckets. Besides if we reach TEOTWAWKI and my choices are rat stew with a side of grilled fish head or dehydrated vegetable chicken noodle soup, I will happily take the latter. ;)
 

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We purchased a Harvest Right (standard size) and have been using it about 2 weeks now. If anyone wants an assessment on the thing I can give one. The prices have come down quite a bit but it is still in the "investment" range for most IMO.
 

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A few weeks ago SurvivalBlog updated their initial review of the Harvest Right with "the good, the bad, and the ugly" observations. It seems the only major downside of the machine, besides the price, is the mandatory maintenance that must be done every time it's used.
 

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We purchased a Harvest Right (standard size) and have been using it about 2 weeks now. If anyone wants an assessment on the thing I can give one. The prices have come down quite a bit but it is still in the "investment" range for most IMO.
I would be interest in your assessment of the product.

Any ideas on why they are so expensive?

Jim
 

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I would be interest in your assessment of the product.

Any ideas on why they are so expensive?

Jim
No competition in the home market is my guess on price.

I wrote this to some friends so if it's confusing sorry, this was written after batch #1.

"Ok batch number 1 done and here is my thoughts!
-Don't get one of these if you aren't a procedure following person in regard to directions, for example setup requires the front of the unit to be 1/4"-1/2" higher than the rear to allow the system to drain since the drain is located in the rear of the freeze chamber. Operation of this freeze dryer is a specific step by step process, no corners to cut here!

-They are maintenance intense….you must filter the vacuum pump oil every batch, power flush the pump every 10 batches and change the fluid after I don't remember how many. You essentially change the fluid often though because there is some loss due to the water that accumulates throughout the process , there is some fluid trapped in the filter when you run it through the filter.

-The amount of food you can freeze dry in a standard sized model (ours was $2200 shipped) is 4 trays that are 7.5" wide and 18" deep or they recommend a maximum of 10 pounds of food going in per batch. That isn't much real estate to put food on….it fills quickly! We knew this going in but it seems a lot are shocked at the size of the unit vs how much you can actually dry at a time.

-Time….it took 20 hours for our first batch which was kind of basic items (2 trays of basil leaves, 1 tray of yellow squash and 1 tray of bananas sliced about 1/2" - 3/4" thick. I won't say someone needs to babysit this thing but if something happens in the middle of a cycle your batch could be ruined by the time you get home and find out something went wrong. I would ensure someone is home at least at the end of the freeze cycle and at the end of the drying cycle and here is why, when the freeze cycle stops it pulls a vacuum on the chamber, if something isn't right (door misaligned, something preventing a seal, drain left open, etc) and it can't pull a vacuum the process stops until you fix the problem, the screen will say "ensure the drain valve is closed" until you hit the continue button. At the end of the drying cycle when you pull your trays out there is ice on the inside walls of the unit. Your freeze dried food is right there and the ice will melt and reconstitute the food eliminating the entire process.

-There are nightmare stories on the web about these things and this company. Mine arrived with the top dented from the shipping company setting something on it even though it is CLEARLY marked do not stack, etc…Harvest right had me run a diagnostic on the logics, pull a vacuum to ensure the chamber wasn't damaged then asked me if I wanted a new one at no additional cost to me. I told them save the shipping and give me $200 store credit and they did. To me having some cosmetic dent on the top (that you can't see anyways on the stand I made) is well worth $200. I spent nearly 2 hours on the phone with a tech, when I sent the pictures in an email they called me that evening even though they were closed. They have a 24 hour tech support line and rotate it like a duty phone between the techs. The tech wanted to make 100% sure my machine was good to go.

-Online nightmare stories (CONT)...I believe that a lot of the nightmare stories are from people who are either:
-Not technically savvy
-Neglecting the maintenance
-Thought this was a 'plug and play' item and did zero homework
-Just plain dumb who think everything should work at the push of button no matter what

-If you intend to purchase one, before you do go online and watch some videos about the process, maintenance, problems after long term use (vacuum pump overhauls, check valves in the vacuum system, etc) knowing this information going in is a huge plus. My wife got frustrated but she did ask me to do the homework and she has had to call me about 15 times to get the batch going the second time because she wasn't as familiar as I am because I did the homework and she tried to cheat on the test so to say!

Here are my thoughts. We purchased this to add another layer of food storage….long term to our abilities, we will still can and freeze items. These freeze dried items are for our 10+ year storage so again it adds another layer and we intend to add to it each harvest we have.

There are things you can't freeze dry such as items with a high content of fat and oils. Sausages and some sauces don't do well (sausages high fat/sauces with oil's). Dairy products, water based products such as fruits and veggies do extremely well although some fruits such as blueberries you must use a toothpick (or similar) to punch a small hole in the skin or it can't pull the water/moisture out of the skin. Ice cream sandwiches seem to be a very popular kid snack and do exceptionally well in these things. Meats with fat in them are ok as long as large fatty sections aren't present, you can do a T-bone steak but must cut away large fatty sections, hamburger patties can be cooked and freeze dried just pat the excess grease away with a paper towel before you put them on the trays.

I put a electrical usage monitor on our freeze dryer through a cycle (this includes the vacuum pump since it plugs into the freeze dryer and is controlled by the dryer logics) and our batch will cost us about $2.87 (+/- a few cents depending on our monthly usage our KW/HR price increases/decreases) in electrical usage. I made an amazon purchase today of 1 gallon of vacuum pump oil (1 oil change is 700ML or about 3/4 quart) and 50 (1) gallon mylar bags with 500CC oxygen absorbers for $52 delivered. That should be enough to do 25 batches. So to pack 50 bags full of freeze dried food our cost will be:
$2.87 x 25 = $71.75 in electricity
50 mylar bags with O2 absorbers = $24.99
1 gallon of vacuum pump oil (it comes with a quart) = $27.62
Total cost for 50 (1) gallon bags of food with a shelf life of 30 years = $124.36

Now if you take into account that some of those bags will be taco meat, home made spaghetti, home grown veggies and fruits and farm raised meats, that price is pretty good I think. A 3 day mountain house meal plan for one person costs around $50, if we put our food into the pint sized bags we would have made about 15-20 of these 3 day packs, we are putting ours into bags to feed 3-5 per meal vice individual "minimum" or 'survival' packs that are sold on the market. We will be freeze drying what we eat, when we eat tacos we will freeze dry a tray of cooked taco meat, when we eat spaghetti we will freeze a tray of spaghetti, etc

I built a stand for ease of loading the unit and ease of maintaining the pump such as changing the oil and such. I also wired a dedicated 20 amp circuit for it so nothing else will knock it offline, they also recommend not using a GFI since it might be to sensitive for the vacuum pump and the compressor cycling throughout the process. I was actually shocked at the electricity usage, the compressor ran for about 6 hours to achieve minus 50 degrees F at the start of the process and then with the vacuum pump cycling on/off during the drying cycle I figured it would use more than what it did electrical usage wise.

If you have any questions ask away folks!"

After more batches here is my opinion:
Ok we have now done 7 or 8 batches, we love it! Steak was grilled, then patted dry (olive oil/grease removal) then cut into strips and freeze dried....tastes just like it does off the grill!

Bananas/blackberries/fruits...love it!

Diced tomatoes, sliced tomatoes, pico all great!

Squash (yellow) was cut into slices like we fry them, freeze dried then reconstituted and fried, couldn't tell the difference from fresh or freeze dried.

We change the oil after every batch, filter it then put it back into the jug...excessive...maybe but it's a cheap insurance policy for a $350 vacuum pump imo. I am going to setup a inline filter, I have gotten permission (in writing) from harvest right that it won't void my warranty, they did ask to let them know how it does which tells me they are interested in improving the product but not much into more R & D that would put additional cost in the product.

2 weeks in and we love it, ours runs nearly non-stop since our garden is producing heavily this time of year.

One thing to consider....how to store hundreds of Mylar bags! We decided on file storage boxes such as....http://low.es/2qKLrBJ

Hope this helps. Sorry for the novel
 
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