For anyone interested in knowing the process, here’s how it works with the freeze dryer:
- Because the freeze dryer drains to the back and therefore, the front has to be 1/2″ higher than the back, I have to pre-freeze liquid products in the home freezer in order to get full, even trays into the freeze dryer without the liquid spilling over the back.
- I have an extra set of trays so I can have four trays (full load) in the home freezer while four trays are in the freeze dryer.
- The minute the food comes out of the freeze dryer, it needs to be sealed in jars or mylar bags so it doesn’t start absorbing moisture from the air and it is surprising how quickly that happens.
- As soon as I turn the freeze dryer off to take the food out, there is a setting for automatic defrost, which takes about two hours, or manual defrost, which takes about 6 hours. The automatic version heats up the barrell and melts the ice, thus using more energy. I only use that cycle if I’m in a hurry and have another load ready to go. It seems like most things come out in the evening and I let it defrost overnight.
- As soon as I’m done processing the food, I drain the oil from the pump, and put fresh (filtered) oil back in. The oil that is drained out goes into a big plastic container and I put it in the freezer. It’s about 3-4 cups of oil (I haven’t measured). The water will freeze in the bottom of the cup and I can pour the oil off through a filter and re-use it over and over. After messing with the oil, I have to really scrub my hands. It’s a commercial type oil and and smells like industrial oil. One drop on your hands when you’re handling food and your food smells and tastes like oil.
- As soon as the freeze dryer has defrosted, the next load goes in and it starts over.
Our chickens have not been laying much but in the past two or two and a half weeks, we’ve accumulated 9 dozen eggs. Since my knee has been so painful, Vince has been getting the eggs and taking care of the chickens so I hadn’t even known they had been laying a little better til I went over to the shop fridge this morning and saw the eggs. I knew there were some stacking up because Vince usually brings the eggs in the house if it’s just 2 or 3 but when he has 10 or 12, he puts them in cartons and puts them in the fridge outside.
Don’t look at how badly my freezer needs to be defrosted. I know . . I’ll do it after Christmas. And, you know . . any time before next Christmas is “after Christmas”!
I was able to get 2 dozen eggs per tray so that’s 8 dozen eggs. By the time the freeze dryer is done defrosting, I’ll probably be able to stick these eggs in there. Just to be safe, I’ll pre-freeze the freeze dryer so it’s nice and cold and then stick them in there. I’d like to freeze dry a lot of eggs before we get rid of the chickens. Vince said “8 dozen is a lot of eggs”. I told him . . “I’d be happier with 100 dozen.”
Counting the eggs we had for breakfast, that’s shells from 100 eggs. They’re in the oven baking and once they’re nice and dry, I’ll run them through the blender to crumble them and we’ll give them back to the chickens for added calcium .. to make more shells!