Freeze Dried Candy (& More Freeze Drying Fun)
And other fun home freeze drying projects...
Freeze-dried candy is incredibly popular, as home freeze drying opens up a cottage industry for small scale producers to take everyday candy and make it into something extraordinary. You’ll find freeze dried candy sellers at farmers markets, craft booths and country fairs, and increasingly online in mom and pop freeze dried candy shops. People have learned that making freeze dried candy is a great way to offset the cost of buying a home freeze dryer and a tasty side hustle to earn a little bit of extra money to pay the bills.
But what is freeze dried candy, and how is it made? I’ll explain exactly how freeze dried candy is made, and walk you through all the most popular types as well as where to buy them if you’re not setup to make your own.
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This past summer, I met a woman selling freeze dried candy at the state fair. I asked her how business was going, and she told me that she’s working round the clock to keep candy in stock because it was flying off the shelves. She’d just bought her 3rd freeze dryer, and her husband joined her in the business too.
Turns out, she originally bought her freeze dryer to make simple wholesome, easy to prepare, just add water meals for the elderly...and she started selling freeze dried candy to cover the costs of her charity work.
It ended up working out so well that in not only supported her charity work, but if became her full time gig…and her husband’s too!
The same is true of many gardeners, backpackers and homesteaders that I know. Not necessarily that they quit their day job, but simply that selling freeze dried candy became a lucrative side hustle.
They bought a home freeze dryer to put up extra produce from the garden or make easy to prepare just add water meals for hiking, camping or emergency preparedness. They just ended up selling freeze dried candy to help pay for the unit and make a bit of extra cash, simply because the demand is high and margins are excellent.
In bulk, you can buy skittles for about $2 per pound, but once freeze dried they can sell for as much as $16 to $20 per pound. You can fit several pounds into a batch, so that's not a bad return on a simple 4 hour cycle in a home freeze dryer.
I know what you're thinking, what about the cost of electricity?
That's not free, surely, but it's not as expensive as you think. On average, a freeze dryer pulls about 1000 watts an hour (or 1 Kilowatt Hour per hour of runtime, for a total of 4 kWhs per candy batch), and electricity prices are rated by Kilowatt hour and vary by state. The lowest cost state is around 10 cents (Idaho) and the highest is around 28 cents (Massachusetts). So a four hour batch run would cost between 40 cents and $1.12. That does add to your costs, of course, but less than you'd think. Your time, packaging materials, and shipping costs are actually a bigger concern.
But still, there’s a reason that just about every freeze dried emergency food company is based in Idaho!
Anyhow, if you’re at all curious about making freeze dried candy, or just wonder what it tastes like and which are the best, I’ve written a pretty exhaustive guide for y’all.
The whole month of November is “Black Friday” at Harvest Right Freeze Dryers, and that’s their biggest sale of the year. Harvest Right Freeze Dryers include a dedicated candy mode which runs in just hours, reducing your electric costs and improving how much product you can create in a day. Just a heads up, their sale ends today (November 30th).
Personally, I’ll admit, I’m not a huge fan of candy. I’ll take a freeze dried strawberry over a skittle any day. That said, people go absolutely nuts over freeze dried candy, and it’s become an incredibly popular way to make a freeze dryer pay for itself as a side hustle.
Candy for the masses, and a great way to preserve our home grown strawberries for me and my family…sounds like a good deal to me.
[Keep in mind…If you want to do this commercially you need to consider packaging; freeze dried candy absorbs water from the air and can soften if improperly packed. Think about things like vacuum sealers, desiccant pouches, etc. I won’t pretend that there’s not a learning curve here, so it’s not exactly plug and play…but it’s not that tricky either. It’s also not all that different than packing up other freeze dried food for long term storage.]
Freeze Drying Guides
I’m working on putting together guides on freeze drying everything under the sun, and here are the ones I have so far:
I’ve also put through just about every type of fruit on the planet, and they’re all great (except kiwi…which loses everything when it’s not juicy…who knew?). Strawberries, apples and mangoes are my favorites.
If there’s anything in particular you’d like to learn about when it comes to freeze drying, let me know in the comments and I’ll see what I can do to help you out. (Or maybe even run a quick batch and test it out for you.)
And in case you missed it, last week I sent out a long list of all the best practical black Friday deals for homesteaders. Many of those sales are still going on through the 30th.
(Comments only, please. Emails tend to get lost in my inbox, and as much as I’d love to get back to each and every one, my screen time is very limited…and things fall through the cracks, and emails get buried in my inbox. If you comment here, they’re all in one place, and it’s much easier to get back to every single one.)
Until Next Time,
Ashley at Practical Self Reliance