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Mr. Mike

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  1. WOW... a LOT has been covered here since I last posted...a LOOOOoooOOOnG time ago. There a lot of good new questions and results posts and a few of the typical "old" question topics... oil issues... icing-de-icing and food not dry enough, how many lbs can you dry. etc... For those that have not scrolled thru the previous early pages... Along, long time ago. I still rememger (sounds like the beginning of Americam Pie.. lol) when I put a list together. A "UL" list my .. Mr. Mike "Universal Laws" of freeze drying list... i.e. My experiences from the early days when there weren't many people that owned any FD's. This should ring a few bells for the older members and maybe enlighten some new combers. http://forums.egullet.org/topic/150588-freeze-dryers-and-freeze-dried-food-part-2/#entry2005558 I need to post more..sorry for being out of touch...I have been REALLY swamped with my business and haven't been doing much drying with my machines. Hope this helps. Mr. Mike
  2. Dregs: If you read one of my previous posts about rocking the pump end to end while draining the oil and adding more oil to continue the float the "dregs" out.. that should help clean the pump of debris. When I say rock back and forth.. I mean tilting-rocking the front of drain area to rear of motor direction. I tilt the motor housing at least 30- 45 deg from horizontal back and forth several times then open up the drain, tilt foward at least 30 deg. and let'er flow. Close the valve, add more oil. Rinse.. Repeat.. Each time-(rocking) adding more oil to float, wash, clean the particulate out. It looks like the small pieces of hamburger left in the bottom of the pan after browning. .. small little chunky stuff. I add oil (2-3 Tbls) and rock unitl very little particulate comes out. My experiences..."Your mileage may vary." Mr. Mike
  3. "I Wish" Functions: In talking with the HR owners When I bought my machine about a year ago.... I had all kinds of ideas for improvement... (the Process Eng in me wanting to improve the machine-process).. it basically comes down to Cost. HR. "could" add all kinds of options... and drive up the cost. Their objective is to have a machine that is as inexpensive as they can make and have a repeatable, reliable freeze drying process. They (HR) incorporated some of my ideas as the improvement recommended really didn't add too much cost, but did improve basic function or safety. Mr. Mike
  4. This thread is to post the drying results here so it doesn't bog down the original thread. The information will then be taken and made as part of a larger reference document for anyone getting into freeze drying to help answer questions and hopefully reduce redundant posts on the main FD thread.. This effort is to hopefully make the start up and use of the dryers easier while reduce the problems that new owners experience. Hope this helps. Mike
  5. Mr. Mike

    Can Sealers

    The brand I have is the All American 8000. It is motorized, cam operated and seals #10 cans. This is where I ordered it from. http://www.canningpantry.com/electric-can-sealer-8000.html I used a "sem-auto" sealer in the Y2 days... it was motorized, but you had to hand operated the cam rollers to roll the lip to make the seal. THAT was hail on the arms with just that manual step. The reason I choose this unit was the robust design, pretty much "full auto" operation. Set your can after filling with the food item. O2 absorber and lid was in position and then push the "start lever".. lifting the can-pressing start to begin the sealing cycle. The machine starts rotating, rolling the edge and sealing until the cam stops the action for the cycle..bout 7-10 seconds for a sealing cycle. In theory.. you could crank out 5-7 can/min IF everything was running smoothly... and sometimes it did... but "Murphy's law" was always around. I bought my supplies from the LDS locally.. I'm not an LDS member...just support them by buying their products. To can dry goods efficiently it takes 5-7 people... other wise it's a "herky jerky" process flow. 1 person to blow out the cans and load the filling table. and pre-stage food to be poured. 2 people to open bags, pour contents, level material-clean rim, place O2 absorber and set the lid. 1 person to roll seal the cans. 1 person to make labels as needed, label each can of contents and place cans and 1 plastic lid in each box. 6 cans/box. 1 person label box of contents, stack and tape up new boxes. 1 person as a "floater" to help smooth the bottle necks for processing. Rinse-repeat. There are other items needed .. buss tubs to put the cans into and catch "over flow" as you fill them, a "lip straightener" for slightly bent cans rims, S. steel tables on rollers for easy positioning as/where needed. Air compresser-nozzle used to blow out the cans, labels, sharpies; LOTs of sharpies. tape guns-packing tape min. of 2-3 needed for taping up boxes. Anti fatigue mats for those standing in place on concrete. Have to have a truck to get the pallets of cans, lids, O2 absorbers, boxes etc.. Note: a pallet had something like 450 cans per. It took us bout 5-6 hours to go thru 1.5 pallets of cans.. still have some left. Now.. the Money side of things..I thought of a way to "pay" for the machine by sealing the kids gifts up in the can(s). i.e. "Child Proofing Christmas Gifts-Stocking stuffers" I was going to get a trailer that could hold 2-3 pallets of cans, the machine, generator for power, processing tables for putting "what ever" the gift needing canned-No raw food items... colored tissue paper, confetti etc in the can and sealing it right there with labels mad up from the customer. 8.00 for one can and two for 15 buxs. The process would take Maaaaby" 3 minutes.. with a helper.. Take money, stage gifts, insert paper-gift seal and then slide the gift for customer pick up.. Think about it.. ..bout 200-300.00 buxs an hour potential in the right location.... OK.. 100.00/hr if it was "slow" Then you could sell a "P38" the old military can opener that has the "hook" the pierces the lid manually as you rotate it around the rim...just for kicks to watch the kids "struggle" to open THAT present. I always nixed the idea due to "Seasonal outdoor activities" in the fall that took up my weekends. Or one could take things mobile and "rent your canner" to whom ever and set up in their location for a service fee. or what ever.. Just my rambling thoughts. Hope this helps.. Any questions? Mr. Mike.
  6. Mr. Mike

    Can Sealers

    I have a #10 sealer motorized... I promise you, you DON'T want a hand crank one... it takes quit a few revolutions to seal the can properly..."your arms will fall off" from fatigue. Auto sealing is THE way to go. If you need more info PM me. Mr. Mike
  7. All, I have made some proposals for organizing all the topics here for a reference guide for new to experienced dryers to use. One section is to have a Food Tried n Dried guide. This is a section where you can post your results for all of your efforts for ANYTHING you have dried.. good or bad results. Link here "Calling All Freeze Dryers" as a new topic in the Kitchen Consumer section. This is to keep the regular FD forum from being bogged down with this effort. Outline for the Reference Guide is for the The Big Picture" for the reference guide. Link here This is for "us" and your inputs are needed Input away! Mr. Mike
  8. CALLING ALL FREEZE DRYER OWNERS: Project: Freeze Drying: A Quick reference guide for Tips, Hints and FAQ’s for Freeze Drying. i.e. Collector document. As part of trying to organize all the different questions and topic discussed, I made a proposal to organize the different topics for new and seasoned owners for their results and experiences in using our freeze dryers. We have support from the higher ups for organization, editing and posting this Freeze Drying Reference Guide. Food drying is ONE of many topics that will be addressed in this reference guide. Next: an outline for the Food drying results section. Mr. Mike
  9. Rett, Higher quality ice creme seems to do better from my experience... even then if you "crowd" "IC samitches" you'll have "blow outs" too thick via being pressed together and can't freeze properly or drive out water so it gets "boiled out". If you use non canned fruit.. you'll prolly have better results.. i.e fresh or fresh frozen. MM
  10. In response to Rett Can you over freeze food? I assume you are talking about in the machine.. no you can't over freeze it. You want it frozen. I have learned to freeze food to the machine default setting and just wait till the whole machine cycles to the end for the "beeper" signaling it is done. If you haven't overloaded the machine. It should be completely dry. If it's not dry.. run another heat cycle. Some of the canned fruit was done but moist was not so I ran the whole tray again. The sugar content may be too high if it was in a syrup or you had too much volume of food in the machine for one drying run. When I do fruit, I run about 5 lbs max.. and remember to keep the thickness no more than 3/8" thick for best results. What if I'm not home when the cycle is complete. Does the ice in the chamber put moisture back into the food. No when the water is driven out, it is frozen and will not re-enter the food unless the machine is shut off and ice begins to thaw. Do I need to run some kind of cycle before removing the food? See my previous post in part one last page (20) about running a short term heating mode to have the food/tray warm hot link here so it doesn't collect a "frost layer" For me, its just a precautionary measure ensuring the product will not collect any more moisture while out of the machine. Hope this helps Mr. Mike
  11. Kerry, How did the strawberrys turn out?... My previous experience was that they didn't do so well whole.. then again.. I was doing 10lbs at that time and it overloaded the machine with ice. and the berrys were pretty big. 1" 1.5" in dia. Were the biggest ones completely dry?.. I'd be interested if you could put those in a zip lock or vac seal and see if they get moist in the package over a few days time. M
  12. Aw info.. Here ya go.. See FDA link below for additional info or google AW for more info. http://www.fda.gov/ICECI/Inspections/InspectionGuides/InspectionTechnicalGuides/ucm072916.htm DEFINITION The water activity (a w) of a food is the ratio between the vapor pressure of the food itself, when in a completely undisturbed balance with the surrounding air media, and the vapor pressure of distilled water under identical conditions. A water activity of 0.80 means the vapor pressure is 80 percent of that of pure water. The water activity increases with temperature. The moisture condition of a product can be measured as the equilibrium relative humidity (ERH) expressed in percentage or as the water activity expressed as a decimal. Most foods have a water activity above 0.95 and that will provide sufficient moisture to support the growth of bacteria, yeasts, and mold. The amount of available moisture can be reduced to a point which will inhibit the growth of the organisms. If the water activity of food is controlled to 0.85 or less in the finished product, it is not subject to the regulations of 21 CFR Parts 108, 113, and 114.
  13. For all "Newbies" and those experimenting. i have put together a summarization of my experiences of what I now call "Universal Laws for Freeze Drying".."UL's" for short.). Listed below. i.e. Things you absolutely cannot do without inducing a bad or failed experience. I think this will keep a few others from making the same mistakes starting out like I have done in the past. How do I know about these "Laws".. "I" have done them....."ALL" of them ..and Sadly..some more than once.. sorry to say. LOL.. It's like one of those OTHER universal laws that exists... i.e. You HOPE your bag of experience fills up BEFORE your bag of luck runs out. lol I think this UL applies here as well. Mr. Mikes "Universal Law's on Freeze Drying" 1. Never over fill the vacuum pump oil reservoir above the fill line. The oil should be BELOW the fill line. 2. Never leave the drain tube valve open while drying, Said action WILL blow out oil of the pump and ALL over everything. 3. Loading more than 8 lbs of food in the trays will take longer to dry and have a huge ice build up that gets into the trays inhibiting tray removal. Defrosting and re-drying will need to be done. 4. Drying anything that is more than 3/8" thick or overlapping slices will not fully dry. 5. Fatty-greasy items does not freeze dry. Pepperoni, sausage, Steak fat etc. 6. High sugar items may and probably will not dry.. Siraccha, gummys...maraschino cherries etc. Tray clean up is a mess. 7. Drying bread items turn it into a crouton. 8. Honey cannot be dried. 9. Chocolate cannot be dried. 10. Liquid items should be frozen flat in trays before inserting into the machine. 11. Drying sick butter makes a HUGE mess. Butter in foods is ok. 12. Foods MUST be fully frozen for a full cycle for optimum performance of lyophilisation..(driving off water) i,e Ice creme etc 13. Safety: Using an extension cord of 14 ga or less) WILL melt the plugs and connections over time and possibly cause a fire. This is one law you DON"T want to ignore. I recommend 12 ga cord as a minimum and preferably 10 ga cord-25' length maximum (more on that one later) 14. Extended periods of inactive time (not drying) with the door closed WILL cause extensive molding of the interior components...regardless of how "dry" you think it is inside the chamber. "Note to self- Leave the door open". (More on that later as well) These are mine... Any other UL? Mr. Mike
  14. The problem can be from one or two reasons or both. 1. The fruit was not completely dry...even though you thought they were. In this case.. the old adage is true. It takes just "one bad apple" to ruin the whole bunch. No really. lol. All food fruit to meat needs to be evenly sliced, cut, layered or pulled for proper and complete drying. ANYTHING over 3/8" thick will not completely dry as it it too thick to dry in the middle. My rule of thumb is 3/8" max on anything I had this problem with some meat I did that was 1/2+ thick...Dried it to the beeping Completed cycle.. put the meat into a package and overnight..it softened back up. Same thing happened with whole strawberries...I only do thin sliced fruit..if I do any fruit at all.. cycle time takes too long for too little yield IMHO. OR... 2. When you took out the food it may be dry, but it is still colder than the air on the outside of the machine. i.e. anything colder than the atmosphere temp will start to get a moisture or frost covering on the surface..ever so slightly as it warms up. A principle we should already know about i.e. Sweating glass from cold beverages. I have had a lot of food "moisten up" or not be as "crisp dry" due to incomplete drying or a little "frost layer" adding an ever so slight bit of moisture back onto the food and re-absorb moisture and get soft in the package. Even if I have vacuum packed it. Fruit-meat.. it doesn't matter. The biggest piece MUST be as dry as the rest of the product for it to be 'perfectly dry" ..snap those pieces first to test for dryness if in doubt. Or you may have had those items packed last and it absorbed moisture from the air. It doesn't take much to take the crispness out of the product...promise. I bet the product was not completely dry is the cause or it took on frost. Here is how I avoid the "frosting" problem. TIP: I have everything "ready to pack" as fast as I can as you are working against time for moisture absorption. I have my bags pre-labeled, "flexible funnel" i.e cutting board ready for bag filling, O2 absorbers ready to open, vac sealer on and all ready to go before I take my food out of the machine. When I take the trays out... it's "all elbows" to get it bagged and sealed F-A-S-T. TIP: I NEVER take out food that is is "cold" from the dryer. If the cycle is "done" i.e. low Torr reading or is says "Completed" and beeping. I am not done with the last "Mr Mike" cycle. This is what I do: I will shut the machine off for about 3 minutes, (I don't want to blow out the pump seals on a "Off/On 1 second restart" ) I turn on the machine which restarts the freezing cycle. I turn the freezing time to "0" to start the heating cycle and let the heating cycle run for approximately 30 minutes to "warm" the food/trays back up again. When I take the trays out of the machine, the food/trays are already warm to hot, it does not take on frost or moisture unlike when its cold and warms up. Do the "warm up" procedure every time to your food and you shouldn't have a problem with accumulated surface moisture. An O2 absorbs Oxygen and does not help with moisture..desiccant absorbs moisture. Hope this helps. Mr. Mike Host's note: this topic continues in Freeze Dryers and Freeze Dried Food (Part 2)
  15. TIP: Straining oil: IF you want to strain your oil, using coffee filters is asking for a HUGE mess. How do I know. I've fried well over 100 turkeys over the years.. 20 years to be exact.. (I used to teach classes on it before it became really big nationally.) and I used to strain the oil... Not having anything to hold the filter in place is asking for a oil spill disaster. If you decide to filter your oil, you will want/need to buy one of these devices (See link) and respective cone filters.. (Tried getting a picture to link.. all were really small jpegs.. this link is better... not pushing this company..... they were the first to have good picture.) Any good rest. supply or sporting good store that sells turkey fryers.. Academy, Cabelas, etc.. should have this filter frame. http://www.centralrestaurant.com/Fryer-Filter-Cone-Holder-c103p1069.html?gclid=CJ3RiKbitsMCFQisaQod4RoA-w You'll need a pot deeper than the strainer by several inches to allow the oil to strain properly... a turkey fry pot is perfect by the way. To me..strainng any oil is a real pain in the arse....so I don't do it. It may be viscosity or sediment issue.. soybean oil takes a looong time to filter. even in warm/hot temps. I may try it for this oil just for the heck of it and report back after this weekend. For others, it may be worth it..... try it and you decide. Mr Mike.
  16. Shredded Cheese Tip: If making anything with shredded cheese.. Sprits cheese hard with a water bottle first to help the rehydration. let stand for a while..-coupla minutes.. sprits as need from there .. otherwise it will stay hard and/or burn in the oven due to being not fully meltable...(if that's a word) lol Mr. Mike
  17. Freeze drying raw eggs... I used a pre-scrambled mix.. Here is a HUGE tip... freeze the liq. eggs FLAT first in a freezer... if you fill the tray and put it into the machine unfrozen.. it WILL spill over the edges and make a pretty good mess. One large carton per tray is what you see here... ice build up is HUGE... 3 trays of eggs and something with low moisture (grated cheese) or cooking scrabled eggs and coooking out a lot of the moisture would work better for less ice. When I do this again.. it'll be 2 trays ea.. liq and cooked eggs. Should be about right for "typical ice" sidewall build up. Here are some pics of the dried egg mix.. dried, it turns powdery-crystaline. Scrambled eggs n cheesy seasoned omlets. Eating the cheese omlets is pretty tasty "as is" on the way to work. Water is needed to wash it all down. Chainging oil. I drian the entire contents and when it starts to get to the "bottom of the barrel".. I start rocking the pump front to rear to get the "Dregs" out. i.e .chunks. Fill it back up with fresh oil.. bout 1/2 cup ... rock it front to rear and then drain again rocking while draining back n forth (front to rear) to get out MORE dregs. Repeat until you don't see the dregs come out again. Hope this helps. Mr. Mike
  18. What is the bacon texture like with all the fat?. I can't imagine crispy bacon being even more crispy-ier-er. lol. When I've done pork roast, the fat is still kinda hard-mushy.. is that the case with the bacon fat? Jello with sour cream?.. How/what do you use that for?.. or is that just a "Frankin Foood Trial".. just for the heck of it..interesting combo.
  19. From another friend that made his own F. dryer...Kale and other thin, leafy greens don't do so well due to the freezing damaging the leaves and doesn't dry well as expected. I haven't done leafy green stuff, so I don't know how it works. Try some and see how it goes...but I wouldn't do a "big batch" until I know how it reacts. Let us know.
  20. I'm not that much of a purist for the perfect pie...I was thinking that I could half my process time by buying already made pies. Although it might be a little more non-uniform using a round pie. If I were to bake one.. I'd do it right in the tray vs using a tart pan. What other tool is there to make a uniform round ball of about 1/2" or smaller in dia other than a mini melon or cookie dough baller..I'm not much of a baker so I don't have knowledge of all the baking gadgets. Mr. Mike
  21. IDEA: I have a few other people swooning at the idea of a FD pumpkin pie.. Here's my twist. Take a pumkin pie. Cut it in half. Take the half and smash it flat to about 3/4" thick..then cut the half into strips about 3/4" wide by 2" long. Dry in place. When dry, dip half of the strip (long ways) in a chocolate mess of some sort of your choosing.. dark, semi sweet, bitter???..maybe drizzle some other topping.. on top crossing onto both sides.. Wa-La... Black n Tan.-Kinda. What chocolate would you dip and what would you drizzle... raspberry sauce, carmel, white chocolate or other?? Ideas..Comments..new name.. Like maybe "Mr. Mike's Black n Tan Pumpkin Bars"...Yeah... Yeah.....That's the ticket.. Let'r rip. Mr. Mike
  22. The pumpking pie was pretty..no... REALLY good.. just used cold water.. about 1 TBL for a small chunk and let it set for about 3-5 min. max...the pie part just 'slurried apart" in the spoon and palet. The crust was a really nice treat... crunchy and sweet. I'll be doing more of those for sure. In the dried state, it is "obviously" hard but would make a good "just e-nuff" sweet-snack for after dinner...or the late night "sumthin' sumthin' " Mr. Mike
  23. Here are the latest items dried: Cream cheese.. Blueberry, strawberry, Honey Almond Pasta-Potato: Truffle Mac n Cheese, Cheesy S.W. Potatoes. Sweet Potatoes-canned. Hummus: Red pepper and Garlic herb. Pumpkin Pie Pumpkin Pie: Like candy when eaten dried. Re-constituted the pumpkin gets mushy, the crust is really crunchy. Good contrast.. creamy sweet with a crunchy sweet finish of the crust. Had to cut it up to have it "thinner" to dry and not be too tall in the dryer. Lessons Learned-Results: Cream Cheese: Bought the flavored kind in the store. Dried it has a chalky consistency until you start salivating… then it turns creamy.. It makes a GREAT snack…had a hard time not wanting to eat it all. Drying on wax paper would make removal easier. Pulverizing it in a plastic bag helps with re-constitution…less lumpy. Add water to your desired consistency… Did two types.. a little more runny and one very thick… both were pleasing to the pallet. Blueberry and Strawberry.. KILLER good. Pasta n Potato… Ok eating dried… didn’t re-constitute. Hummus: It will stay together when lifted out of the pan. Turns to powder pretty easy when touched –handled roughly. Sweet Potatoes: These were canned. One can is all you can do in the machine… even drained has a lot of ice after drying 24 hrs. Quick turn time. Really crunchy and very sweet.. (duh) Need water to eat more than a biteful. I’ll be buying cream cheese in bulk blocks, pureeing different fruits.. Strawberry, blueberry, peach and maybe doing a jalapeno jelly c. cheese. I might cold smoke the peach cream cheese for a different kinda flavor. I scored the c. cheese and hummus for easier removal. Saved in mylar what I didn’t eat. Hope this helps or spurs innovation. Questions? Mr. Mike The last two pictures... don't know how they got there... I don't see them in the post previous jpg preview. sorry.
  24. PRE FREEZE CHECK LIST: Well.. I "almost" did it again.... started a batch and left the drain valve open. I caught it before the pump kicked in..1.5 hrs before a major spew happened. SO.. Like ALL pilots.. (I'm not) they have a "Pre-Flight Check List" Well 'Ol Mr. Mike... made his "Pre Flight Check LIst"... the format got screwed up in the transfer... but you get the idea. The drain valve position are in red for a reason...that is THE most important step.. IMHO.. This list will be laminated and a dry erase marker will be used to mark off the "cycle" the oil is on with the current run. This list is for/after the product is inside the machine. Feel free to "Steal" it if you want. Any additions to the list.? Thoughts? I was in a hurry this morning.. put the food on the trays and zoomed out of the garage... Came home in TOTAL dis belief about ME... well not any more... Start Up Check List 1. Is The Drain Valve Closed? 2. Drain off Water in Vac. Pump Oil Reserve 3. Oil Level Ok.. Add? 4. Pillow in Position 5. Door Fully Closed-Locked 6. Start Cycle 7. CHECK DRAIN VALVE POSITION CYCLES ON OIL 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 Hope this helps.. Mr Mike
  25. The "Close the valve" issue. EVERYONE will do that at least once....(me)..I've run my pumps dry TWICE! Don't feel bad... it is a PIA to clean up though. I will say that. TIP: To eliminate the "Misting Fog".. I placed a plastic solo cup over the vertical pipe The misting oil does collect and run down the cup and ont the motor area. I need to add another cup under that one to catch the oil that collects on the "misting cup" interior until I make another process improvement. I will modify the vertical pipe attachment and add a few elbows and a short pipe to the unit and allow the mist to be contained in a cup that "hangs" vs. covers the vertical portion and collects the oil to be reused. .. one of those "Round Tuit" projects. This is prolly won't happen more than once.. IF you don't catch on to check the drain valve position everytime after the first time its left open.. It will happen every time. OK... you can have lightening hit twice..( I have ) it prolly won't happen a third time-I hope anyway...(me). "Murphy" and "operator error" live at our place some days. I'll call Matt at H. Right Mon. and talk to him about the software improvement...I have a call into him for another matter from last week. He's pretty good about returning my calls. Mr. Mike.
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