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Food Dehydrators: The Topic


Gabe Q
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I had no idea that Costco has such a good return policy.  I don't blame you for keeping that as an option, and if you don't think you will use it much then that makes it easy.  I googled the Gardenmaster for price comparison and there seems to be a varied price range so price shopping is a must.

 

I have been tempted to try drying since Kerry got her Freeze dryer.  I would love to get together sometime to see the great luch spots of Ottawa.  I haven't ventured for many meals out there so I would love to try some new places out.  Let me know if you do get a dehydrator and try it out.

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Ah Nesco,,,,

 

Deryn hit the nail on the head about my preference. The various odors can be quite pungent initially and IMO are better left outside since they can linger for quite some time inside the house.

 

 

A freeze dryer also sounds intriguing. Can think of all sorts of applications.

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This was timely my giant wooden tank of a dehydrator (my husband made in the late 70s' from a Mother Earth News mag plans..I think it was "Garden Way" for the folks who remember our agrarian dreams back then? )   ..it was  just not usable or practical anymore …even with all the maintenance everything has its day and now it moves out to the "farm" where my friend will brilliantly up cycle it into something I am sure … so I read and reread and  checked a few other forums …wanted to report back I ordered the Excalibur 9 tray and I am excited to be part of modern dehydrating society now!  

 

thanks so much for the thread 

I can hardly wait for it to arrive! I want to dehydrate the fig chutney I just made ..it makes the best layer in a sandwich I tell you ..chutney leather! when I found it my dehydrator went on overtime fast 

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why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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YES! I love to make fruit leather and condiment leather …I just mentioned chutney leather it is off the charts good ..every fruit in my garden has ended up in leather at one point or another..I find it easy to store, eat and use in all kinds of things. Yes I am a child of the 70's fruit leather goes wayyyy back in my life 

The round Nebco from walmart for around $30. I've had mine for at least 12 years. Works well, but in the garage- not inside the house. 

 

I like the looks of the Excalibur; looks perfect for the dehydrator fanatic who plans on using it a lot. 

 

Best for... Jerky. Onions. Herbs. Mushrooms. Garlic. Tomatoes. Peppers. Fruit and fruit-leather. Anyone make fruit-leather?

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why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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Thanks for all of your suggestions. I am still sitting on the fence, so to speak. This afternoon I was going through Modernist Cuisine at Home when I saw a recipe for Microwaved Beef Jerky. As I wanted the dehydrator mainly for jerky making purposes, I asked if anyone had followed this method for making jerky on the Beef Jerky thread. I'll be curious to see what, if anything, gets posted.

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I am sorry I missed the jerky thing and while my dehydrator came yesterday  and it is so lovely and just waiting for things to be quite long enough for me to prep and put something in it ..I do not make beef jerky so I can not comment on that I am sorry that was what you wanted it for and I have no idea so I all step out and off this thread… but the dehydrator is shiny new and very cool! and for sure it would make jerky it has a section in the booklet on it and plenty of room to make a lot of jerky if a person were so inclined ..it is acres away from the giant wooden box I had so much you can do with it wow! who knew? I am going to have fun with this I am sure!  it is half the size of the one I had and will dry the same amount as far as I can see..I had to space things and skip shelves in the other one ..take care and happy dehydration! hope you find what you are looking for

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why am I always at the bottom and why is everything so high? 

why must there be so little me and so much sky?

Piglet 

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We have two American Harvester round stacks, a total of 12 trays. The first design was moronic, placing the heater and fan at the bottom so juices would eventually destroy the unit. The new top-down design is fine. The total cost for two units and 12 trays is not far off from an Excalibur of similar capacity; one shouldn't decide on price. Cleaning twelve AH trays is a moderate nightmare; the ease of Excalibur cleanup could be the deciding factor here.

 

We almost exclusively use these to process garden and farmers market tomatoes, for the year. We haven't opened a can of tomatoes in over a decade. A fair bit of work in season (like our agricultural past), and radicalizing; in even the fanciest restaurants, the taste of canned tomato becomes like the taste of a canned mushroom on a cheap slice of pizza. One doesn't want to be a snob, but one has a gag reaction, and regrets eating out. We use these packets for everything, but the signature use would be for a sauce with fresh pasta, from flour freshly ground in a Wolfgang Mock grain mill.

 

The idea came from the "precious tomato" recipes of Colicchio, Keller and the like, which were too much work. We wash and scald 20 to 30 lbs of tomatoes, cool and skin, then slice and salt into the dehydrator. Reduce the weight by a factor of four over 8 to 12 hours (more wattage may not be better); this ratio depends on the tomato, as market tomatoes are often more watery. The result should be "gooshy", just wet enough to release enough juice to cover when pressed into a bowl overnight in the fridge (to equalize juices). Then partition into freezer packages, label and freeze till needed. The labels matter; farmers market tomatoes don't taste as good as garden tomatoes, late season are more acidic, and so forth, issues in selecting a packet for a particular application. Chamber vacuum bags work best, one can fiddle to get the air out, then seal them with a $30 impulse sealer, less work than a clamp or chamber machine, with an easier time dealing with the liquid. Zip lock bags work for a trial run but are far worse.

 

The second staple that we're starting to depend on is Italian "strattu", a very concentrated tomato paste, air dried rather than simmered to death. Here, our preferred tomato is a Santa Cruz dry-farmed Early Girl, which a few farms bring to Bay Area farmers markets. Not the traditional choice, but the crown jewel of commercial tomatoes in California.The relatively pedestrian Early Girl is the strain uniquely best suited to that microclimate and technique.

 

In Sicily, strattu would involve several days on special tables out in the searing sun. A dehydrator does a fine job. Strattu is however a relative space hog, and requires the lips on the fruit roll inserts for the American Harvester, so a half cup of liquid per tray doesn't run off before drying. Silpat liners would be great, but what does one do for a lip? I crave the 9 tray Excalibur for the extra capacity, but only if I can solve this problem.

 

For comparison, an American Harvester tray is 11.5" in diameter with a 2" hole, so 12 trays (two units) is roughly 1200 square inches. A five tray Excalibur is a near match, and a nine tray Excalibur is over 2000 square inches. Preparing tomatoes to crowd the nine tray unit would be an operation that overwhelms most kitchens, but liberal spacing is always a good idea here.

 

So what is the best way (think Silpat with a lip) to dry liquids (as for strattu) in the Excalibur? I'm tempted.

Edited by Syzygies (log)
Per la strada incontro un passero che disse "Fratello cane, perche sei cosi triste?"

Ripose il cane: "Ho fame e non ho nulla da mangiare."

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You can (though I cannot recall where) buy rolls of 'silicone' mat-ting which can be cut. Perhaps look at Target or a store like that. Not as thick as a silpat and far less expensive. I got some a while ago that is red. You could buy that sort of thing and cut to your tray size ... plus a little bit .. so that when it is placed in the tray it completely fills in the tray and makes its own 'lip'. If you have a center hole, make sure you cut the hole in the matting a bit smaller and then either stretch it a bit or cut small slits so it will curl up on the spindle.

Edited by Deryn (log)
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You can (though I cannot recall where) buy rolls of 'silicone' mat-ting which can be cut. Perhaps look at Target or a store like that. Not as thick as a silpat and far less expensive. I got some a while ago that is red. You could buy that sort of thing and cut to your tray size ... plus a little bit .. so that when it is placed in the tray it completely fills in the tray and makes its own 'lip'. If you have a center hole, make sure you cut the hole in the matting a bit smaller and then either stretch it a bit or cut small slits so it will curl up on the spindle.

 

Free thin store plastic  produce bags works very well. They are non-stick for dehydrators. Make sure you don't use the side with printing.

 

dcarch

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I have an excalibur and I use it all the time.  I have a toddler, so I'm constantly making fruit leather for her.  When I am not using it for fruit leather, I use it to make spices, like citrus powder, onion powder, scape/ garlic powder, sour salts..you name it.  I have heard that people use it for making yogurt, but I used my circulator for that. And of course people use it to make jerky.  It really has some great uses!

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  • 1 year later...

Funny story today.  I was loading up my "el-cheapo" dehydrator remarking to my DH "boy, we've had great use out of this cheapie little thing, I think it's been ten years".  Took it out to the laundry area, plugged it in, walked away.  Two hours later, DH says, 'how come the dehydrator is turned off?".  Not turned off at all.  Dead!  Ha.  As if on que.:(

So I ordered one of these babies:  https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0115X5UGE/ref=pe_386430_203440370_TE_item  :D

 

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 I found myself on a mission to replace a few of my must-haves that were lost in the house fire. The dehydrator moved closer to the top of the list, since my freezer space has been drastically reduced, and the bountiful harvests of berries, veggies and apples this year have increased over past years.  So, while on an unfortunate trip to Chicago Heights for a funeral, DH and I stopped off at Fleet Farm in Green Bay.  The Nesco Gardenmaster caught my eye. With the capability of handling 30 trays, I could not pass it up. And it was on sale - so it came home with us. 

So far, I've experimented with dehydrating strawberries- which were wonderful. (Blueberries are next.)  And, since my doc put me on the Whole 30 diet, I decided to try making my own Lara-type bars. After some tweaking, those seem to be a success as well.   Being able to set the temp is nice, as my older one did not have that option.I used to make my own fruit roll ups- which seemed to be an essential item for the kids (and now grandkids).  Venison Jerky will be on the menu come Nov.15, and lots of it.  Might try turkey jerky- since I've got three left from last fall that never made it to my butcher block.  I did zucchini chips last fall, salting the slices with Jane's Crazy Salt, and dehydrating them to a crisp. Fabulous snack!     Looking forward to doing some apple slices soon, too.  I just love that thing. 

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-Andrea

 

A 'balanced diet' means chocolate in BOTH hands. :biggrin:

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On August 8, 2016 at 8:03 PM, Okanagancook said:

Funny story today.  I was loading up my "el-cheapo" dehydrator remarking to my DH "boy, we've had great use out of this cheapie little thing, I think it's been ten years".  Took it out to the laundry area, plugged it in, walked away.  Two hours later, DH says, 'how come the dehydrator is turned off?".  Not turned off at all.  Dead!  Ha.  As if on que.:(

So I ordered one of these babies:  https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B0115X5UGE/ref=pe_386430_203440370_TE_item  :D

 

You will LOVE this.  I have one.  I thought I'd use the hell out of it but it languishes downstairs.  I know I'd use it more if it were up here......I need to rectify that.

 

It makes really good jerky.  I like all of the different temperatures you have to choose from.  My first dehydrator didn't have all those options.

 

edited to add:  mine isn't the same model but it is an Excalibur.  

Edited by Shelby (log)
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Excellent Shelby.  I am waiting for it to arrive today.  I have a pile of skinned, sliced and salted tomato slices ready to load in it!  I am definitely making jerky.  The recipes on line are quite similar, but this one caught my eye:

 

Thai Nua Kem (from thebaldchef)

 

top round beef sliced

2 T lemon grass

2T brown sugar

2T coarse black pepper

1T Thai chili

1 1/2 T salt

1T Fish sauce

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  • 1 year later...

this thread seems to be a tiny bit dated

 

which means  the eG crew has sorted this out completely.

 

I have an Excalibur dehydrator on the way.

 

waiting for their tracking

 

5 shelves

 

the Enabler's helped me on the Sale Thread.

 

what are your favorite DeHyd  books ?

 

I'll look into them at my local library.

 

I grew up in N.California

 

with Apricot trees every where

 

plums , peaches , nectarines , avocados etc

 

here in NE

 

best of luck on fresh full flavored fruit.

 

and for a time

 

I grew the Best Tomatoes 

 

bar none

 

Im looking foreword to using the dehydrator for two

 

very different projects :

 

1 )   drying thai bird and other green chili's  as I like green more than red

 

I can get these at my local IndiaMart not far from me

 

I think Id like the GreenDried better on Pizza etc than red

 

Id also like to dry Mane blueberries in season

 

and the rear local fruit I can get.

 

thanks for your help.

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2 hours ago, rotuts said:

this thread seems to be a tiny bit dated

 

which means  the eG crew has sorted this out completely.

 

I have an Excalibur dehydrator on the way.

 

waiting for their tracking

 

5 shelves

 

the Enabler's helped me on the Sale Thread.

 

what are your favorite DeHyd  books ?

 

I'll look into them at my local library.

 

I grew up in N.California

 

with Apricot trees every where

 

plums , peaches , nectarines , avocados etc

 

here in NE

 

best of luck on fresh full flavored fruit.

 

and for a time

 

I grew the Best Tomatoes 

 

bar none

 

Im looking foreword to using the dehydrator for two

 

very different projects :

 

1 )   drying thai bird and other green chili's  as I like green more than red

 

I can get these at my local IndiaMart not far from me

 

I think Id like the GreenDried better on Pizza etc than red

 

Id also like to dry Mane blueberries in season

 

and the rear local fruit I can get.

 

thanks for your help.

The Breville Air dehydrates...

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I dehydrate cherry and Roma tomatoes. I also do peaches. Haven't tried any berries. I've done jerky, which would have been good but for the fact I sliced it too thickly. I did okra, which made a nice crunchy snack, and cucumbers, which were singularly tasteless.

 

I just put them on the shelves, turn the thing on, and leave them until stuff looks as dry as I think it ought to.

 

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Don't ask. Eat it.

www.kayatthekeyboard.wordpress.com

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Yes, I think you will find the book that comes with the dehydrator very useful, @rotuts .

 

Like @kayb,  I just turn it on to the recommended temp and let it go until stuff is as done as I want it.

 

I've done venison jerky, duck jerky, zucchini, apples, tomatoes...probably more but I can't recall off of the top of my head.  Oh I did bananas...that didn't work out very well.  I'd skip bananas.

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  • 4 months later...
On 4/30/2018 at 2:48 PM, rotuts said:

this thread seems to be a tiny bit dated

 

which means  the eG crew has sorted this out completely.

 

I have an Excalibur dehydrator on the way.

 

waiting for their tracking

 

5 shelves

 

the Enabler's helped me on the Sale Thread.

 

what are your favorite DeHyd  books ?

 

I'll look into them at my local library.

 

I grew up in N.California

 

with Apricot trees every where

 

plums , peaches , nectarines , avocados etc

 

here in NE

 

best of luck on fresh full flavored fruit.

 

and for a time

 

I grew the Best Tomatoes 

 

bar none

 

Im looking foreword to using the dehydrator for two

 

very different projects :

 

1 )   drying thai bird and other green chili's  as I like green more than red

 

I can get these at my local IndiaMart not far from me

 

I think Id like the GreenDried better on Pizza etc than red

 

Id also like to dry Mane blueberries in season

 

and the rear local fruit I can get.

 

thanks for your help.

rotuts, where are you on the 5-tray?

Edited by SLB (log)
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  • 2 years later...

I'm looking for "preparations" for dehydrating food. Mary T Bell seems to have a few in Food Drying With an Attitude.

For instance, as a marinade for zucchini chips:

-soy sauce

-rice vinegar

-garlic, roasted

-sesame oil

 

I'm also looking for pictures of how folks are preparing the vegetables for dehydrating.

 

I'm doing this in the Anova Precision Oven, and thanks to @JoNorvelleWalker, I have some nice Silpats with itty bitty holes.

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12 minutes ago, TdeV said:

I'm looking for "preparations" for dehydrating food. Mary T Bell seems to have a few in Food Drying With an Attitude.

For instance, as a marinade for zucchini chips:

-soy sauce

-rice vinegar

-garlic, roasted

-sesame oil

 

I'm also looking for pictures of how folks are preparing the vegetables for dehydrating.

 

I'm doing this in the Anova Precision Oven, and thanks to @JoNorvelleWalker, I have some nice Silpats with itty bitty holes.

 

I use one of these for apples:  (eG-friendly Amazon.com link)

 

What vegetables are you dehydrating?

 

Cooking is cool.  And kitchen gear is even cooler.  -- Chad Ward

 

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