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Using A Dehydrator
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Jam Lady



Joined: 28 Dec 2006
Posts: 2406
Location: New Jersey, USA
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 20 2:31 am    Post subject: Using A Dehydrator Reply with quote
    

I'm back in full post-apocalyptic mode here. I have partially dried tomatoes in the oven, then freeze them. Not good enough.

The covid-19 virus has turned our world upside down. Recent storm Isaias walloped New Jersey (where I am located) with power outages, putting freezer-stored items at risk. Canning jars and replacement lids are the latest empty shelf syndrome items that cannot be found.

Here we are at the height of summer when it is time to put food by. Drying food seems like an excellent technique to avoid both power outages and unavailability of lids.

Friday evening I ordered a dehydrator. The model I chose after reading reviews etc seems to be edging towards the empty shelf syndrome - out-of-stock on Amazon, Home Depot, Walmart, etc. Mr Jam Lord tracked it down at Target (none in stores, on line available only.) It should arrive September 1.

Electric fairly high wattage internal fan. No timer. It comes with eight trays. More can be added. Dry fruit. Dry tomatoes, peppers, onions, celery, etc. Dry tomato skins then powder to use as a seasoning. Dry pickles to a powder, for seasoning. This one comes with tray liners for making fruit leather. Can use to make jerky.

If anyone else has used / does use a food dehydrator I would welcome comments / suggestions / recommendations / recipes that you might want to share.

jema
Downsizer Moderator


Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 27608
Location: escaped from Swindon
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 20 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

We have one bought when someone on DS shared a cheap offer iirc.

It's still just about going after 15 years.

We have done onions, tomatoes, mushrooms, potatoes, jerky.

It's main use has always been the onions. Dried onions are for us a way of ensuring when we buy a sack of onions we reduce waste, and onions dried and blasted in a food processor are useful.

They going into beef burgers to bind and add flavour, they are thickeners for stews. they add a layer of flavour when partially substituted for fresh onions in recipes.

I'd love to claim more imaginative use. Dried mushrooms are also a good thickener/flavour but that's once in a blue moon as it's rate to have a surplus and I would not go out my way for it. Potatoes are good for hash browns, but that is also rare as its a bit of a palavar and hit and miss. I'm not a great fan of jerky. Tomatoes have also been rare, this year might be different So largely it the boring old but useful onions that earn its keep.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 42785
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 20 9:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

yep i have an excaliber one with 10 shelves it has lasted well and i quite efficient at a range of temps

a few hints re temps:

jerky can be fresh, or from frozen(if parasites might be an issue frozen is good), at some stage of the drying a few hours above 70 c will sterilize it but then turn it down for drying through as too long hot gives a cooked taste

things like herbs etc should be done almost cold to retain the flavours

veg fruit and shrooms etc are best done coolish

most kit will come with a recipe book giving a guide to what temp for what thing

re stacking, you should have grid racks, mesh sheets and silicone sheets for sloppy stuff

most things it will be obvious which to put them on but be aware that fluffy stuff, unless sandwiched between 2 plastic mesh sheets, will blow away when dry(my first herb batch was rather too mobile )

tougher bits of meat will be quite similar to tender ones once dried so using cheaper cuts or the whole beast is not a problem

most meats can be dried but lean is easiest, fatty meat such as mutton breast or brisket needs an antioxidant marinade as well as the salt and spices, i use blackberry juice for baah snacks (berry juice salt pepper for 24 hrs)
if making baah snacks or similar put a tray at the lowest level to catch any fatty drips

buccan mix is a good dry marinade rub(equal volumes of salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper or chilli) it works well with beef, venison and rabbit etc
you need enough for a thin even layer on the meat strips which is quite a bit

some folk use wine or whisky in marinades, i prefer to drink it and keep the jerky simple

soy sauce is sort of ok in a marinade but a bit cloying if you use too much

while i am shredding a largish animal in chunks i hang it up, hold and turn it with one hand and cut with the other to unroll flaps which can then be cut into strips
always shred along the muscle rather than cut slices across it
strips should be 1/2" x1/4" and as long as the muscle

even with practice good cutting is a slowish process as unrolling a muscle at a time needs precision and a different set of butchery skills to english or french cut

dont bother with cubes they are either wet in the middle or too hard to chew

biltong style ie drying a thinnish steak is possible but it will either be short shelf life ie a bit damp or a boot sole unless you get the conditions and timings correct

things get smaller quite quickly so it is possible to double up loads after a while and add more on the freed up shelves if you have a fair bit to do

start with them spread out and not touching each other, when part dried they can be shuffled to give a lot more space as they will not stick together at that stage

even in a good one the middle will dry faster than the top and bottom, that can be a problem or used to your advantage if drying a lot of one thing or several things

this is one they often miss from the instruction books, the water has to go somewhere so ventilate the place the machine is, a chum thought he had a burst pipe when the light fittings filled with condensation, that was about half a cow in several machines but i have made the kitchen rather damp with a few pounds of mushrooms or fruit

shrooms that are best dried and matured like ceps work well in a de.
for things like carrot a food processor and cut thin slices works well.
thick bits are either very chewy unless thrown in a stew or wet in the middle and covered in mould.

apples are best cored, peeled and sliced into a bucket of citric acid solution to prevent the phenolics from making them go brown, dry in a towel then rack

re moisture in air, if the day is very humid drying can be almost impossible, the ideal arrangement is dry air in and wet air out and gone
if you have to do it in a fairly sealed room a dehumidifier is essential

ps tt says only dry things you like and went on to recall three days of strong banana smells when neither of us like dried bananas

if i had to choose one jerky it would be venison in buccan mix

Jam Lady



Joined: 28 Dec 2006
Posts: 2406
Location: New Jersey, USA
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 20 1:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Very thorough comments and suggestions, dpack. Thank you so much. This should be a sticky - I'm sure there are others who could make use of it.

Jam Lady



Joined: 28 Dec 2006
Posts: 2406
Location: New Jersey, USA
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 20 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Jemma, thank you for your suggestions. It's not that I have any ideas of what I want to dehydrate, then use. It's more a matter of "I think I should do this."

I agree about onions - there are certain times of year when they'd rather sprout or go yucky inside. Buying 3 at a time is A) more expensive than buying a bag and B) practically guarantees that when I want one for right now I don't have it. Dried onions shall go to the top of the dried veg list.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 42785
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 20 3:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

if you like smoked stuff prep and smoke it first, then dry it

dried smoked shrooms is rather nice especially if you then pickle them for a while

i have not tried fish but it should be possible with lots of salt and some practice
mistakes will probably be apparent quite quickly

handy for raising bread as well, so long as it is well covered:wink:

Nicky cigreen



Joined: 25 Jun 2007
Posts: 9299
Location: Devon, uk
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 20 5:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

I've often thought about getting a dehydrator, but I think I would only use it for apples and tomatoes

gz



Joined: 23 Jan 2009
Posts: 7934
Location: Ayrshire, Scotland
PostPosted: Sat Aug 22, 20 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

I have bananas in mine right now..cut across in half then split into their natural thirds.
Tasty, but look like dried slugs
We do all sorts of fruit drying, and I have just started trying veg.

yummersetter



Joined: 26 Jan 2008
Posts: 3241
Location: Somerset
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 20 11:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Mainly fruit in our Excalibur, halved skinned Victoria plums drying at the moment. Back in the days when we travelled, there was always a couple of bags of dried plums in the car to chew on. My favourite prune flavoured plum for drying, Anna Spath, has hardly any fruit on the tree this year and we'll miss it.

We're also drying lots of tomatoes, usually skinned and sliced.

When the quinces are ripe some get stewed, pureed, sieved, sugared and dried on sheets as leather and as a 3/4 inch deep layer as a kind of membrillo, dried till no longer sticky then cubed and kept in the fridge.

I've never tried onions, does the smell linger in the dehydrator? I've got an abandoned circular dryer in a cupboard so could allocate that to smelly stuff.

tahir



Joined: 28 Oct 2004
Posts: 44990
Location: Essex
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 20 12:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Cherry raisins are great, so are pears. Haven’t had success with any plums yet, they’re always too sharp. Good for curries instead of tomatoes though

Jam Lady



Joined: 28 Dec 2006
Posts: 2406
Location: New Jersey, USA
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 20 4:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

I'm impressed - Excalibur is top of the line for dehydrators. I didn't want to spend that much for something I wasn't positive I'd be using enough to justify the expense. So instead I got a Nesco Gardenmaster 1018A which is about the top of that company's dehydrator line. Comes with 8 trays, which is why I was asking if you could do two mix 'n match different items that dry under similar conditions. Or remove empty trays while drying on fewer than eight trays. Their site says you can add extra trays up to total 30 but it seems to me that the heated air circulation with that quantity of trays would be dubious at best.

The obvious uses are drying fruit / fruit leather, drying vegetables, making jerky. With ample time before the device arrives (supposedly September 1) I have been trolling on the Internet. It's astonishing how people use a dehydrator - spicy pork snack sticks (like Slim Jims, I guess, variation on jerky), put overcooked rice in dehydrator for a day then fry - apparently it puffs up into little rice cakes. Dehydrate ketchup or barbecue sauce overnight, then put sticky slivers of the stuff on a potato or over a piece of chicken. When juicing ginger put the pulpy leftover fibrous stuff in the dehydrator, use the crunchy ginger on grilled pumpkin or in cocktails.

Apparently the sky's the limit for what you can do.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 42785
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 20 11:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Excalibur are rather good

until you find out how much you like doing drying foods or dried foods the "now and again" ones are fine

there is quite a bit of prep compared to some ways of preserving but there are some dried things that are so good it is worth the effort

some dried stuff is easy, throw it in, turn it on, enjoy it later.
other stuff is a bit more faff, such as pemmican.

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 42785
Location: yes
PostPosted: Sun Aug 23, 20 11:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

tahir wrote:
Cherry raisins are great, so are pears. Haven’t had success with any plums yet, they’re always too sharp. Good for curries instead of tomatoes though


japanese style salted plums work, they are fairly horrible to munch but very ok a little at a time in a sauce

Jam Lady



Joined: 28 Dec 2006
Posts: 2406
Location: New Jersey, USA
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 20 2:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

Umeboshi are salted, pressed with weighted lid, and then just sit. Once they make their own brine, sit some more, then repacked and brine removed (umeboshi "vinegar") and saved. They'll last practically forever.

Where does a dehydrator come into play?

dpack



Joined: 02 Jul 2005
Posts: 42785
Location: yes
PostPosted: Mon Aug 24, 20 11:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote
    

ah i just salted and dried them which might be the problem

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