Is Buying a Freeze Dryer Worth it for Homemade Pet Treats and Food?

Making your own homemade pet food for cats or dogs is quite rewarding. Your pets get to eat food with better nutrition and taste options and you can market the extra food for a little more cash in your pocket. You’ve got to preserve it though, so is buying a freeze dryer worth it for homemade pet treats and food?

Unless you are selling the pet food, it’s a bit of a hefty investment to purchase a freeze dryer simply for your animals at home. Vacuum sealing and dehydration can give you increased shelf life and cost quite a bit less, though as far as keeping nutrients, taste, and increasing shelf life a Freeze dryer is definitely the best.

Today we’ll talk about freeze drying in a little more detail in order to help you to make an informed choice about this option. While it’s definitely the Cadillac of preservation techniques, it will ultimately be up to you to determine if you need that kind of firepower. Let’s take a look at the facts!

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Is a dehydrator better than a freeze dryer?

It’s all going to depend on your purposes. If you are just looking to make kitty jerky treats, for instance, then you can save a lot of money just getting a dehydrator and it will be perfect for that purpose. You will still get an extended storage life on the food, your kitty gets the jerky, and everyone is happy.

COSORI Food Dehydrator (50 Recipes) for Jerky Fruit, Meat, Dog Treats, Herbs, and Yogurt, Dryer Machine with Temperature Control, 6 Stainless Steel Trays, ETL Listed, Silver

A freeze dryer is definitely better, though, if you don’t mind spending a little extra. The process retains more of the food’s nutrients and if you are freeze drying homemade cat food, then that’s a big plus to begin with. It also will preserve more of the original taste than you would get with a slow dry from a dehydrator.

The shelf life that you will get from freeze drying food is longer than what you get from a dehydrator, as well. This is because a dehydrator only removes 80% of the water, while a freeze dryer removes about 95% of it. So, yes, a Freeze dryer is the better option, provided that you need it.

Are freeze dryers expensive?

Yes, freeze dryers don’t come cheap, and that’s a definite consideration when you are considering getting one to preserve your cat’s food. Some freeze dryers can cost $2000 and up, while you can get a dehydrator for around the neighborhood of $50 and up.

Harvest Right Freeze Dryer - The Best Way to Preserve Food - Food Dehydrator, Medium Size, Black Color
This is one of the units on Amazon. We DON’T recommend it specifically, it’s just an example. Click the image to see the current price. It’s mighty expensive!

This is a significant difference, so unless you are planning to freeze dry food for the whole family or you’ve found a real bargain on a freeze dryer, it might be hard to justify the purchase.

How long does food last with a freeze dryer?

There’s a reason that Nasa uses freeze dried food for astronauts – the shelf life is extraordinary, it retains most of its nutrition, and the food may be easily rehydrated to taste as close to ‘normal’ as possible. So, how long is the shelf life?

Try 25 to 30 years!

That’s some serious shelf life, especially when you consider that a cat’s life is 12 to 18 years on average. Most likely, unless you are freeze dying food for the whole family or selling freeze dried homemade cat food, a freeze dryer might be a bit excessive in cost comparison.

Can you reconstitute freeze dried cat food?

One of the nice things about freeze fried food is how easy it is to reconstitute it. All that you need to do is add water. While hot or warm is best (depending on what you have freeze dried), even cold water will do, it just takes 15 minutes to an hour instead of just a few minutes with the warm or hot water.

This will, of course, result in a fresher tasting treat or cat food, and if you use the warm water than your cat is also basically getting an instant hot meal, so freeze dryers definitely have their perks in this regard.

You could conceivably spend a few months just making and freeze-drying pet treats and homemade cat foods, storing them away, and have your pet’s needs covered as well as a lot of stock to sell within the next 30 years.

If you sell your pet food online or locally, offering freeze dried foods certainly gives you a niche offering to sell that has a lot of perks for the customer.

Their pets can have an instant hot meal that weighs less than other preserved meals, retains more nutrients, and even has a better taste. Definitely a potential perk for your business model!

Does freeze dried food taste better than dehydrated?

Yes, freeze dried foods definitely taste better, and to understand the ‘why’ of it you need to know the process. A simplified version of what happens is that the food is flash-frozen in the first part of the process and then placed into a vacuum to remove the water and air.

This results in a rapid loss of 95% of the water of the food, which makes it lighter and more resilient against molds or any other decay factors that you might have to worry about with other methods. As it’s a fast process, most of the nutrients are kept, and foods like veggies retain their crunch along with those vitamins.

When rehydrated, meats and other foods simply reabsorb as much water as they need, so that reconstituting it is easy to do and you won’t have to worry about the rehydrated food tasting odd or coming out of the process with a funky texture.

It’s an efficient process and that’s really and that’s what makes it the most efficient food storage option if you have the cash for the initial investment – it’s simply light years ahead of the other methods when you compare them.

In closing

If you are intending to freeze dry food for the whole family, along with marketing your freeze-dried pet foods and treats, then a freeze dryer might well be worth it. You can extend the shelf life of the food for 25 to 30 years and it will retain most of its vitamins and flavor.

That said, options such as vacuum sealing and dehydrating may be more practical for your pocketbook and still fit your needs just fine.

While freeze drying is certainly the best, ultimately you will have to decide for yourself if you really need that much power when it comes to preservation, but unless you intend to market it then another solution might be a better fit!