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freeze drying economics

standard-red-dimensionsFreeze drying is superior food preservation technology that recently became available for home use. Units about the size of a woodstove enable home food preservers to put by meat, vegetables, fruit and completed meals for extremely long storage shelf lives without losing significant nutrient value.

Friends of ours bought a freeze dryer and, with numerous batches under their belts, showed off the machine and their results.

I am quite impressed with the claims of quality and potential longevity of the food supply. I am also a bit surprised at what has to be learned and the amount of time involved in the process.

I am, putting it gently, skeptical of the economics.

Today I sat down and crunched the numbers. Some of my figures come from factory data, while others are variables depending on what is being preserved and other minor factors. They could be off a bit, but I doubt the conclusions would change dramatically.

freeze-dryer-economicsPrices vary depending on make, model and such, but a homeowner-sized freeze dryer with bag sealer is going to cost around $4,000.

People will vary in their dedication to use, but with batches taking 24 hours or so to process, I’m calling it 2 batches every week for 5 years. Then I divide the initial cost by that number of batches to come up with an equipment cost per batch of $7.69.

One manufacturer estimates the electric cost per day between $1.25 to $2.80. I used the middle of that as my per-batch cost. The mylar bags and O2 absorbers might be found for different prices, but these are certainly typical.

For servings of food I used 75-cents each, but that rather obviously depends on what you are preserving, where you got it and a whole lot more.

You get paid nothing for preparing the food or maintaining the machine. I also allowed nothing for maintenance costs. Obviously those should be considered, but I have no good way to do that for you. You could easily add a dollar a serving if your time and effort are worth much.

Crunch the numbers and you have $2.62 per serving for doing it yourself.

Or you could go to a commercial supplier and buy a two-year supply of food already freeze dried for you, spending darn near exactly what you spent getting your own machine… with the food itself being FREE.

If you are considering buying a freeze dryer for your family, I encourage you to take a pencil and paper to the project before sending your money away.

Your results might be significantly different from mine, but I really doubt you can make it pencil out economically.

Now if you just plain WANT IT, compare that to what else you could do with that money.

Then do what you want in a thoughtful manner.