It’s Here! My Freeze Dryer Delivery & Set Up

by Tommy Grant

It’s finally here! I’ve wanted a freeze fryer for as long as I can remember, and this week, my new Harvest Right was delivered. I’ll admit certain aspects of the machine and the freeze-drying process intimidate me, but I’m confident the advantages will outweigh the disadvantages in the long run.

What I Ordered

I decided to purchase the small model, as it seems like it will fit in a compact space without taking up too much valuable room. Like most preppers, space is at a premium in my home. After doing some initial research, I also ordered a spare set of trays so that I could have one batch of food pre-gaming while another finished up. It looks like having your food pre-frozen when it goes into the freeze dryer significantly reduces the overall processing time.

One of my biggest concerns about freeze-drying, in general, is that the oil changes will be overwhelmingly annoying, so I went for the premium oil pump instead of the standard pump. It cost a bit more, but I didn’t want to spend a decent chunk of change and then lose interest because of the maintenance. With the premier pump, I’ll only need to change the oil every 20 loads instead of every five. There is also a pump-free model, but I had to draw the line somewhere! Maybe if I become a professional, I’ll upgrade in the future, but this should be more than good to start.

Customer Service

Due to unforeseen problems from a popular national shipping service, I interacted with Harvest Right customer service more than the average customer. Shortly after ordering, I received a tracking number and detailed instructions for Harvest Right regarding my delivery. A FedEx rep called me, and we personally set up a delivery date, which they confirmed the night before. The next day, however, they called to inform me that although my freeze dryer had been scanned onto the truck, it was, in fact, not there, and they did not know where they lost track of it or where it was.

About two days later, I contacted Harvest Right to see if they had any additional information on the location and delivery of my product. One of the things that made me decide to pull the trigger and purchase when I did finally was that harvest season was imminent, and I wanted a way to preserve this year’s harvest. The representatives were very accommodating and contacted FedEx directly on my behalf. Each time they received an update on my package, they also updated me promptly. Eventually, my freeze-dryer was located, and a new delivery was scheduled. I couldn’t have asked any more from Harvest Right during the process.

Although the initial delivery instructions were to make sure that the boxes were not damaged at delivery, my salesman advised me that I should probably open the boxes before the driver left as an added layer of protection since my freeze-dryer had apparently traveled back and forth across the country twice while it escaped the FedEx scanning system. I appreciated the extra concern, as damage cannot be reported once the delivery man leaves. Initially, that policy seemed a bit harsh to me, but I bet there are a ton of people who scratch and dent theirs during the set-up process, so I understand completely.

Delivery

Early in the ordering process, I discovered that freeze-dryers are delivered by tractor-trailer. From past experience, I also know that delivery drivers are not supposed to come onto your property in any way with oversized items. (I learned this the hard way when my snowblower came.)

For the original delivery, I had carefully selected a date when I’d have some help getting it in the door. By the time the second delivery was scheduled, however, there was no way to have someone else home with me at the time of delivery, and I had suffered an elbow injury that had my arm in a brace. I was dreading the drop-off at the edge of my property. I also dreaded having a giant Harvest Right box along the side of the road for 6-16 hours, depending on the daylight situation when help arrived.

Luckily, I think the driver took a look at my arm brace and felt bad. I was also taking pictures for this article, so he may have been panicked by my constant photos documenting the process. Either way, he was a saint and put the pallet inside my garage doors for me.

I explained to him that I needed to open the boxes for a brief inspection before he left, and he not only helped me separate the boxes with his box cutter, but he lifted the accessory box off so I could open the freeze-dryer package to check inside. My FedEx anger melted away, and I was genuinely grateful for my driver’s extra help.

Un-Boxing

The Harvest Right was delivered on a small pallet with two large boxes stacked on top of each other. The top box contained the many accessories that come with the purchase, and the bottom box contained the prize…. The actual freeze dryer. I had a small oak table in a spare bedroom where I planned to set it up, but because of the delivery delay and my lack of freezer space, my Nesco dehydrator was filled to the brim with 16 trays of tomatoes and peppers when delivery day arrived, so I couldn’t bring the actual unit into the house until that was done and I could get some help. I could carry the accessory box inside, but we had to use a furniture dolly for the freeze dryer itself.

Once we had it near the table where we planned for it to live, there was a brief moment of panic. The instructions clearly say not to lift the unit by the door, or the warranty will be invalidated. Looking into the box made it difficult to determine where the doors were. After a micro-debate, we decided to cut the box away from the freeze dryer instead of trying to lift it out. This was definitely the right call. We easily cut through the outer box, pulled it off in one piece, and then did the same with the interior box. With a little effort to figure out how to pick it up from the bottom, we (two middle-agers) lifted it onto a table with medium effort. It wasn’t the easiest thing in the world, but it would probably be fine for someone younger than us. Unless you are freakishly strong, I would say that this could not be done alone. You’re going to need a buddy to get this on a table or countertop.

First Impressions

It’s gorgeous. I’m in love. It’s everything I thought it would look like in person and more. The packaging was amazing. Everything was meticulously boxed, and I’d swear you could drop this off the back of a plane and most items would probably survive. It’s an expensive purchase, but I felt like they definitely treated the packaging like they respected your budget hit and made sure I felt like I was receiving something luxurious. I did. I really can’t say enough about how well this was packaged. Not just the freeze-dryer but the multitude of accessories as well.

Photo of the accessories that come eith the freeze dryer

What’s Included?

I unboxed my accessories from their main box right away, but I wanted to wait until the freeze dryer got inside to actually open those boxes individually. I’ve got a touch of the ADHD hyper-focus thing going on and didn’t want to lose the unboxing enthusiasm from the add-ons before I had the main unit inside.

The Trays

Based on the recommendations I received, I decided to purchase an extra set of trays so that I could have one batch pre-freezing while another batch was freeze-drying in the machine.

Overall, I’m extremely impressed by their weight and quality. We don’t have a dishwasher (Grrrrr), so I took the eight trays out of their individual bags and washed them by hand. Ready to go!

The Premier Oil Pump

This was my biggest surprise. Initially, after unpacking the main freeze dryer unit, I thought that I would be able to continue to use my dehydrator on the same 2’x3′ small yet sturdy oak table. But yikes! The oil pump is enormous! You don’t normally see a giant pump in Harvest Right photos, so I was a bit shocked to see how big it was. I’m not sure I’d consider this a countertop version anymore after seeing the pump size, but I’m so excited to set it up and find out how to make this work for the space I have available!

Harvest Right Oil Filter

The Oil Filter

One of my biggest worries pre-purchase was that the oil changes would be so annoying I would just completely abandon the project. Some may think that sounds lazy, but others will understand completely.

The ‘Standard’ oil pump requires changing every 4-5 batches. The premium pump changes the game by only requiring an oil change every 20-25 batches.

Initially, I’d forgotten I’d purchased the premium pump and thought I had the standard version.

Then, I unboxed the filtering system. It’s basically like a Brita pitcher. Easy as pie (it seems). It’s so much more basic than I anticipated, but I feel entirely confident oil changes aren’t going to be the giant issue I thought they would be.

Storage Accessories

Every Harvest Right small freeze dryer purchase includes some storage essentials to get you started. I sincerely appreciate this because I’d probably get pretty sad if I successfully freeze-dried my first batch and realized I had no way to preserve it.

Mylar Bags

My small kit came with 50 mylar bags of a decent size. They are decorated on the front side by Harvest Right and have a dedicated space to record your dietary info that needs to stay with your survival food. Once those run out, it’s easy to find replacement stock to keep going!

Harvest Right Impulse Sealer

Impulse Sealer

If I had been paying better attention, I would have seen this was part of the package, but I was incredibly stoked to see that a Mylar bag sealer was included with my purchase. Typically, I just use my hair straightener (Pro tip!), but I’m excited to have this in the house. I haven’t used it yet, but it seems exceptionally well-built. As a bonus, they include a replacement sealer strip for when the first one wears out.

Oxygen Absorbers

To complement the 50 Mylar bags, each accessory kit also includes 50 oxygen absorbers. These get tricky because you have to use them pretty fast. I normally purchase them on Amazon in lots of 100, and it’s mildly stressful to expose them to as little air as possible,

These are packaged in 5 lots of 10. I appreciate this so much because I’m not exposing all 50 to the air simultaneously.

I thought this was a really nice touch that made me feel a bit spoiled, and therefore, I also felt a bit better about my large purchase.

Final Thoughts

I can’t wait to get started! I’ve joined as many social media freeze-drying groups as I can find, and I have so many ideas for things I want to preserve! I hope to free up some freezer space and get my ducks in a row with essential ingredients like peppers, onions, and tomatoes. What are your favorite things to freeze dry? What are the things you’d never freeze dry again? Let’s talk about it in the comments!

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