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Food Dehydrators

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  trolleydriver on 1/15/2016, 3:15 pm

I would really like to grow and preserve more things from the SFG this year. Walmart Canada has a good (compared to other sellers) online deal on the Excalibur 2400 4 tray dehydrator. I'm tempted to buy one but I can't help wondering if I really need it. Will it be a worthwhile investment? Will it be good for the veggies? Is it as good as or better than canning?

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  sanderson on 1/15/2016, 4:54 pm

TD,  Cheap or free to try it.  I started in 2013 with an outdoor dehydrator my husband made per my specs.  It keeps the flies off while hot summer air flows through.  This is a photo of the initial design that was later modified with more fly screening for more air flow. I like them so much that he built a second, larger one.

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  trolleydriver on 1/15/2016, 5:18 pm

sanderson ... that is cool (or should I say hot). But will it work in my climate where we only get a few months of hot weather? How do you store the dehydrated food? Jars? Bags? etc.

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  mschaef on 1/15/2016, 8:06 pm

I got lucky and my mother in law gave me her dehydrator when we moved to our apartment. She rarely used it so its been siting collecting dust. Its a round Deni. I also got the book that goes with it. I'm excited to start. Any thoughts on what I should I try first?

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  Kelejan on 1/16/2016, 12:47 am

Bananas.  I always make banana chips when the bananas go on sale just as they are very ripe.

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  sanderson on 1/16/2016, 2:09 am

KJ,  Do you toss with in lemon juice or citric acrid first?
mschaef,  Nice.  Does it come with the herb and/or fruit leather trays?  I like the round ones because you can add a couple trays and make it higher.
TD, A lot of the fruit was eaten. I stored what I did store, in vacuum zip lock bags.

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  AtlantaMarie on 1/16/2016, 8:28 am

@trolleydriver wrote:sanderson ... that is cool (or should I say hot). But will it work in my climate where we only get a few months of hot weather? How do you store the dehydrated food? Jars? Bags? etc.

TD, I prefer dehydrating over canning because the dehydrated items take up a lot LESS space. For tomato sauce, I'll cook it to the consistency I like, then pour 2 cups in a brownie pan lined with parchment paper & let it dehydrate. Then I know that I have to put enough liquid back to bring it to 2 cups. And it stores in thin sheets.

If you're doing something smelly (onions, garlic) make sure ALL the window are open or you're doing them outside.

If it's something that has hard edges when dry (potatoes, corn) you'll still have to store them in jars. They'll cut thru seal-a-meal bags or ziplocs. If I'm storing in a jar, I use the seal-a-meal jar do-dad to seal them good. That way air's not getting to them making them stale.

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  trolleydriver on 1/16/2016, 8:42 am

Thanks folks for all the good information. There is no end to all the good ideas and things to try that are brought to light on this SFG forum.

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  Kelejan on 1/16/2016, 11:16 am

@trolleydriver wrote:Thanks folks for all the good information. There is no end to all the good ideas and things to try that are brought to light on this SFG forum.

It is quite wonderful, TD.  Always something to write about even in the dead of our northern winter for those unable to do outdoor gardening.

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  yolos on 1/16/2016, 12:25 pm

@mschaef wrote:I got lucky and my mother in law gave me her dehydrator when we moved to our apartment. She rarely used it so its been siting collecting dust. Its a round Deni. I also got the book that goes with it. I'm excited to start. Any thoughts on what I should I try first?
I dehydrated a load full of fruit, one of each kind to see how they dehydrated and how they taste.  - pineapple, apple, kiwi, mango, bananas, oranges, lemons.  My favorite was pineapple.  My six year old grandson's favorite was kiwi and mango, my daughters favorite was lemon and orange because she puts them in one of those fancy drinking doohickeys where you can also put fruit to make flavored water.

I have a 5 tray Excalibar.  The only thing I don't like about it is one side of the tray heats better than the opposite side so you really have to rotate it 180 degrees part way thru the time.  Which doesn't work if you have to leave the house all day to go to work.

From what I have read, it is best to get one where you can set the temperature to the exact degree that you want to use rather than just high, low, medium.  Also best if you can get one that you can set the time and it will turn off after a set amount of time.  These two items will make it more expensive though.  

I tried a whole pineapple that I cored, peeled and sliced.  It was a lot of work.  Then I saw a youtube video where the person just bought the canned, sliced pineapple in juice, dumped it on a tray to drain a while and then dehydrated it.  So, if you like the pineapple, watch out for sales on canned pineapple.

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  trolleydriver on 1/16/2016, 2:35 pm

Use your car as a food dehydrator:

http://thetanglednest.com/2009/08/drying-food-in-car/


And I like the box fan dehydrator:

http://www.antihousewife.com/2011/02/box-fan-beef-jerky/

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  AtlantaMarie on 1/16/2016, 3:56 pm

Yolos, I do the canned pineapple. Tastes great! So does the gallon tin of fruit cocktail or Autumn Fruit from Dole. A gallon tin dehydrates down to a quart or so.

And I'm telling you, if you haven't tried dehydrated watermelon, you really should. IF you like watermelon. It's like a Jolly Rancher multiplied in taste!

They're quite sticky though. My mom recommended dipping them in powdered sugar once dried to see if they don't stick as much. Haven't tried that yet...

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  littlesapphire on 1/16/2016, 4:34 pm

I got a dehydrator at an estate sale for $4 a couple years ago.  Honestly, I hardly ever use it.  Even though I have the equivalent of six 4x4 SFG boxes, I don't really have any to store or preserve.  And when I do, I almost always freeze stuff.  I'd like to start using my dehydrator more though, it seems like such a waste not to.  I bet it would be great with herbs. 

I went to a garden show last year held by the local master gardeners.  They had a display about how to preserve your produce, and they had some dehydrated foods to try.  The best tasting thing they had, and I swear it tasted like candy, was sweet potatoes!  So good!

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  Kelejan on 1/16/2016, 5:08 pm

@sanderson wrote:KJ,  Do you toss with in lemon juice or citric acrid first?

I don't add anything as I like them that way.  I must admit they are not a bit like the commercial ones that are drenched with whatever they drench them with that makes them look almost like fresh bananas.

IMO one only needs to take out the water content and they can last for years.

The one thing I make sure I do with bananas is to turn them over after a certain time to make sure they do not stick to the holes in the trays,  otherwise it is a very hard job to un-stick them.

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  Scorpio Rising on 1/16/2016, 5:56 pm

@littlesapphire wrote:I got a dehydrator at an estate sale for $4 a couple years ago.  Honestly, I hardly ever use it.  Even though I have the equivalent of six 4x4 SFG boxes, I don't really have any to store or preserve.  And when I do, I almost always freeze stuff.  I'd like to start using my dehydrator more though, it seems like such a waste not to.  I bet it would be great with herbs. 

I went to a garden show last year held by the local master gardeners.  They had a display about how to preserve your produce, and they had some dehydrated foods to try.  The best tasting thing they had, and I swear it tasted like candy, was sweet potatoes!  So good!

Sweet potatoes? Sounds like sweet potato chips without all the bad stuff! Win, win!

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  sanderson on 1/16/2016, 8:13 pm

Do we have a sweet potato chip recipe in our recipe section???

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  littlesapphire on 1/16/2016, 8:33 pm

@sanderson wrote:Do we have a sweet potato chip recipe in our recipe section???
If we don't, we certainly need one!

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  yolos on 1/17/2016, 1:34 am

I have been experimenting.  These are powders that I ground from dehydrated veggies.  (I think I posted this elsewhere maybe).


And various veggies to try in a soup if I ever get around to it.  Carrots, Corn, Lima Beans, Leeks, Onions, Green Beans.

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  Kelejan on 1/17/2016, 1:46 am

Lovely.  Just imagine you had a picture of the pile of veggies fresh out of the ground, how much room they would have taken up.

Don't forget to keep them in the dark otherwise the colours would fade.

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  trolleydriver on 1/17/2016, 8:55 am

Wow those are great yolos.

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  trolleydriver on 1/17/2016, 9:34 am

Someone in my area is selling a Mr Coffee Dehydrator which has never been used. He was asking $60 (list is $130+) but says I can have it for $40. Not sure if I should take a chance on it or just try to use a DIY dehydrator at least to start with. Does anyone have any experience with this make of dehydrator?

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  Scorpio Rising on 1/17/2016, 10:38 am

TD, I have been keeping my eyes out for one too. They have these on eBay and Amazon, on Amazon it is rated 3.5/5 stars. And for used they start there at $46; on eBay, used start at $27-ranging to $40ish. If it is good shape, has the manual, etc. it is probably a good deal. The big complaint on Amazon reviews was flimsy trays.

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  trolleydriver on 1/17/2016, 10:53 am

SR ... Thanks.  The problem for me with purchases on Ebay is that the delivery charges are sometimes more than the used item! Most of the affordable units would have to be shipped from USA since there are none available in Canada. I did see a Mr Coffee unit that is $50.70 Cdn and shipping from the USA is $37.26 Cdn. 

I also saw those Amazon comments about the trays not lasting. So here is my thinking. If the trays self-destruct I could either replace them or use the unit in another way. The other way would be to incorporate the remaining parts of the unit (e.g., heater, fan, controls) into a DIY case with strong (and preferable rectangular) trays. It may not be necessary to take it apart ... just put it underneath the DIY unit and maybe add another fan (e.g., from a computer) at the top of the DIY unit. Not sure if I could do that but sometimes my brain works in strange ways.

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  Scorpio Rising on 1/17/2016, 11:09 am

Yeah, I know the shipping is expensive on eBay. I agree, the working parts that matter, they dehydrating parts, could certainly be used in an alternative shell. Plus, some of the reviewers had had their units for years with no problems whatsoever! Maybe the older ones were better? I would say go for it!

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Re: Food Dehydrators

Post  sanderson on 1/17/2016, 3:35 pm

Found this in Montreal: http://montreal.craigslist.ca/app/5403578132.html I just wanted to show that you can buy nice ones new, or go to Target, Walmart, etc for a round beginner's.

This is the second one my husband made.  Fly screen on front, back and top.  The shelves are scrap wood with fly screen.  Edges of fly screen taped, then wood strips nailed on top to prevent frayed wires from getting into the food.  Total weight of all the wood makes it a little heavier than is comfortable with my back.  So, this summer I will have custom metal framed small window screens made to fit. They will also be easier to clean and dry, just like taking out the real window screens for spring cleaning.

Front, door swings up.
Back

There are a lot of photos on Bing to show cheap, expensive, passive, with fans, sun or "solar". My goal was to not use electricity (prepper style). I bring them inside at night to keep away from the morning moisture. But, I also like my American Harvest (gifted free).

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