How Long Does Freeze Drying Take?


There is one common question people ask when they have their freeze dryer the first time. And that is: how long does freeze drying take? We will answer that question bit by bit because there are several factors that can affect freeze-drying time.

How Long Does Freeze Drying Take For Fruits?

How long does freeze-drying take when it comes to fruits? That would depend on the fruit your freeze-drying. Some need less than a day to complete. Others require close to 3 days to finish. To give you a general idea, here are some of the freeze-drying times for fruits.

  • Cantaloupe -16-28 hours
  • Apricots 24-47 hours
  • Plums 29-34 hours
  • Pears 23-38 hours
  • Grapefruit 24-48 hours
  • Blueberries 24-36 hours
  • Bananas 14-28 hours

These are just estimates. Others experience freeze drying citrus to almost 68 hours. It’s also around the same time when you talk about how long does freeze drying take for pineapples.

image of how long does freeze drying take for vegetables

How Long Does Freeze Drying Take for Vegetables?

The same applies when you ask how long it takes to freeze dry vegetables. So far, we have come across these number of hours when we did our freeze-drying cycles.

  • Okra 30-40 hours
  • Cucumber 29-32 hours
  • Lettuce 9-12 hours
  • Squash 34-48 hours
  • Sweet Potato 19-45 hours
  • Beets 34-48 hours
  • Tomatoes 24-36

As you can see, squash and beets take the longest, with okra, cucumber, and tomatoes. On the other hand, lettuce has the shortest freeze-drying time and doesn’t need a lot of preparation.

How About Meats?

How long does freeze drying take for meats? Amazingly enough, meats take around the same time as fruits and vegetables. Some of the times we recorded include:

  • Steak 37 hours
  • Ham 24-38
  • Pork Chop 24-38 hours
  • Chicken 24-38 hours

image of how about freeze drying herbs

How About Herbs?

Herbs take the shortest to freeze dry. They only take less than a day to get ready. Most especially if you pre-freeze them.

  • Basil 16-24
  • Chives 16-24
  • Parsley 16-24
  • Thyme 16-24
  • Dill 16-36 hours

Hours are pretty much consistent when it comes to how long does freeze drying take for herbs. You’ll see that dill was the only one different in the list. We’ll get to why that happens later in the blog.

How Long Does Freeze Drying Take For Meals?

It’s far more complex when you talk about how long does freeze drying take for meals. This is because meals are a mix of ingredients that have different freeze drying times.

  • Soup 40-54 hours
  • Pasta 28-32 hours
  • Mashed Potatoes 25-30 hours
  • Beef Stew 24-36 hours

As you can see, you won’t see any consistency in time as you would with vegetables, fruits, and herbs. The more complex the ingredients in the recipe are, the more the preservation time varies.

image of how about freeze drying candies

How About Candies?

Candies are a hit-and-miss when we talk about freeze drying. Especially chocolate ones. Jelly Beans are close to impossible to freeze dry, while Gummy Bears are such fun to watch transform. To give you an idea about how long candies take to freeze dry, look at the following FD candy list.

  • Airheads 16-24 hours
  • Starburst 12-16 hours

But did you know that the new software has a Candy Mode that cuts the time to a couple of hours? Yes, just 2 hours! When you operate the Harvest Right freeze dryer on Candy Mode, you can set the final dry time to 2 hours. That’s the only dry time your machine will do. Also with the Candy Mode, there’s no initial freeze. That’s why freeze drying candy is a breeze.

Are These Freeze Drying Times Constant?

Unfortunately, these values aren’t constant. This is why you may be wondering why many YouTube videos on how to freeze dry food don’t include time. We also wanted to do that because the old software lets you customize the freezing and drying time. However, through experience, we find that the time varies. Sometimes the process can take longer, sometimes shorter (if we’re lucky).

The good news is, if you got the new Harvest Right freeze dryer software, that’s no longer an issue. The new software takes away the joy (and tediousness) of setting the freezing and drying time. The sensor’s good enough to stop just at the right moment when the food is almost at 94% dryness.

Factors That Affect Freeze Drying Time

The freeze-drying times of different food items depend on several conditions. These are:

Temperature And Humidity Where You Put Your Freeze Dryer

Ambient temperature can affect the performance of your freeze dryer. The process will take longer if you operate the machine in a hot room, especially in the summer. That’s because the chamber will take some time to cool and freeze. During the winter, if the room is extremely cold, that could also affect the drying time.

The Performance of The Vacuum Pump

The basic pump works just fine for preserving your food. However, a premium pump can help make the process more efficient.

Amount of Food You’re Freeze Drying

The more food that’s inside the chamber, the greater the moisture content. So your freeze dryer will have to work overtime to get all that moisture out. However, if you’re processing just a few trays of herbs, then freeze-drying time doesn’t take that long.

image of factors that affect freeze drying time

Composition of the Food You’re Freeze Drying

Notice that fruits, vegetables, meats, and meals have varying times? Especially the meals where you can’t seem to get an average at first glance. That’s because of the mix of different food items in the food.

For example, apples don’t take long to freeze dry compared to cucumbers. That’s because apples are 86% water and cucumber has 96% water. But don’t apples and oranges have the same water content? True that their water content is almost identical. However, the structure of apples and pineapples is different. One particular difference is the sugar content. Apples have 11 g of sugar per cup. Pineapples have 16 g of sugar per cup. Sugar binds with water, so it’s harder for the fruit to “release” the water content during the process.

Age And Software Version Of your Freeze Dryer

The new software is now more efficient compared to the old one. The whole process is relatively shorter and faster. Especially for the candies!


How long does freeze-drying time take? That would depend on several factors. Although some food items have a range you can play with, sometimes they’re not enough. It could be shorter, it could be longer.

The best way to know if your food’s done freeze drying is the taste test. Feel the food, and see if it’s dry, light, airy, and crunchy. If the food is soft, cool, and moist, you have to put the trays back for extra 2-4 hours of dry time.

The best advice we could give you is to let it flow. Sometimes things happen in the process that can shorten or lengthen the process. What’s important is at the end of the day, you got yourself food that’s shelf stable and ready for emergencies.

What’s your shortest and longest freeze dryer time? Let us know in the comment section.

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