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Does anyone freeze dry?

 
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I make some good beef jerky. However I am wondering if I should pick up a small freeze dryer when I move. I would want to freeze dry meats for longer term storage. Is there an advantage to freeze drying over making jerky or smoking meats? I don't know if I will be on grid power after I move if that makes a difference. I expect I will be on solar and wind, and if I am lucky water power. Has anyone tried freeze drying. I basically know nothing about it.
 
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Freeze drying is great to keep high quality preservation over a long time, but there are a few very tricky parts:
1. Doing it right takes a freezer that you can also hook up a nice vacuum pump on -- much more than a shop vac, we're talking a heavy roughing pump that can run 24 hours or more stright! Of course this makes it hard to check progress too if you don't have a constant recipe.
2. To keep things over time, you need to package them up mostly oxygen free, which usually means vacuum packing, preferably with a nitrogen tank to purcge the last bit. Since the cell walls stay full with ice holes after completion, oxygen will tear up anything you don't protect very quickly!

Unless you have high motivation for a large quantity of freeze dried goods, I think it's far more work than it's worth - I would stick to a chest freezer, dehydrator, and some vacuum seal jars...
 
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