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Anyone use a dehydrator?

Discussion in 'The Breakroom' started by scríbhneoir, Jan 23, 2009.

  1. scríbhneoir
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    I'm researching dehydrators, and I thought I'd found one that I like, the Excalibur ED-2400, but then I saw this one
    at SHOT.

    Anyone have any experience with either?

    Thanks!
     
  2. CubistHamster

    CubistHamster Loaded Pockets

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    I haven't used either one, but I sure wouldn't pay that much for a dehydrator unless I was making huge batches of stuff. I've got a generic brand 5-tray circular model that I got at Wal-Mart 6 years ago for somewhat less than $30, and It's still going strong. It's big enough to handle about 4 lbs (wet) of meat at a time, and it takes about 10 hours for one cycle. Maybe I'm missing something, but I can't see any reason to pay over $100 for something that is essentially some circular plastic trays with a hairdryer stuck in the middle.
     
  3. scríbhneoir
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    I've read quite a bit about having to rotate trays, uneven dehydrating and temps, sharing flavors, and long dehydrating times with some dehydrators. These two models eliminate the need to rotate trays, and the Gardenmaster claims to have quite shortened dehydrating times (1000 watts). I do plan on dehydrating a lot--that and canning. BIG garden.

    What model do you use?
     
  4. peacefuljeffrey

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    I have an American Harvest FD-60 Snackmaster Express. I've had it for several years (well, I think I got it in 2003 or so). I bought it principally to make beef jerky, and it does well for that. It cost only about $40 plus tax. I also ordered extra trays and the inserts for making fruit leather from an online source (I think it was called "Goodman's").

    Homemade beef jerky is DELICIOUS! The only thing that keeps me from making it far more often is the fact that cleaning the trays is a HUGE pain in the butt!

    Think about the single thing that most increases the difficulty of cleaning dishes: when food has dried onto them.

    Well, the very nature of a dehydrator is to DRY THINGS, so all of the juices and stuff that dry onto a dehydrator are extremely tough to scrub off, especially since the dryer racks are made of thousands of little perforations. I have tried soaking them in a huge tub of hot, soapy water and then using scrub brushes, and green scrubbies... It still is a huge pain!

    So consider that carefully when choosing a dehydrator: look for trays that will be easy to clean. They're very likely going to get stained (especially if you use hot sauce in your jerky marinade) but for cleaning actual stuck-on dried-on meat juice, be prepared to have to work hard.
     
  5. bartsdad

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    :iagree:

    My machine and experience are exactly the same. The dishwasher doesn't even do a good job of getting food goo out. :green:

    The only thing about more power is it means more heat, and that, translates to cooking, not drying.
     
  6. r-ice
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    I have an excalibur 4 tray and believe me when I say forget the 5 tray, buy the 9 tray!!! You'll need it.
    I make all sorts of stuff, beef jerky, biltong, food rollup, camp food, dehydrate sauces.
    Here are some pics of mine in use.
    http://backpackersforums.com/index.php?topic=17.0

    However I nearly always put parchment paper down to make sure its easy to clean!!
     
  7. DiabloSc(+)pe

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    I have one i bought from the LA County Fair 'bout four years now , Ronco? By Ron Popiel thing still cooking up a storm , paid like $50 Deffinatly paid for itself !! O0 , Marinate some London Broil and Toss in some worcestershire Powder Over-night oooooooo :ready: Yea As For cleaning A Big Pain in me Bullocks !! Since we got a steam Shot Cleaner ! blasts the marinade from the lattice holes on the trays ;D Then Ready for the fruit :ready: Has anyone tried Bacon yet ? Very Curious ? :p
     
  8. EODtech

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    Anything that a dehydrator does you can do in a microwave oven or in the backyard ! The MO speaks for it self. The backyard does present a few problems. Living in Florida I have the advantage of using the outdoor method almost all year long. Buy a couple of old window screens in frames at a yard sale. Wash them with a 10% slurry of bleach and water to kill all the germs. Place what you want to dry on the screens ( grapes, tomatoes, bananas, etc) and cover the screen with cheese cloth if birds are a problem and secure with spring clamps. Place the screen on top of a fold up clothes line unit, a picnic table, on a metal table, etc and let the items dry naturally in the sunlight.
     
  9. Valerian

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    I have an Orakas 5210. Unfortunately, this is the best link for it that I could find. The manufacturer's website is horrible... It was pretty expensive, but it's made in Finland, and metal instead of plastic. It has a continuously variable thermostat, at the lowest setting it doesn't heat the air at all.

    Mostly used it for drying apples, herbs and mushrooms. Works very well for those. Never tried meat, though now you got me curious about that.

    It has aluminium trays, so they are not machine washable, but hand-washing is easy. Never had anything stick to them. If it's a problem, maybe you could put some greaseproof/wax paper between the meat and the tray.
     
  10. scríbhneoir
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    Thanks for the great responses and pics! :roof:

    The Gardenmaster does have flexible screens to make cleaning a little easier, and I can add up to 30 trays, which would be quite useful when berries, peaches, and tomatoes explode into season. I like the variable temperature control as well.

    I don't have a microwave (don't want one--would rather have the counter space as the last one was a glorified popcorn popper), and outside isn't really an option where I live: high humidity, lots of bugs, five dogs, tons of wild birds I feed, and the neighbors' cats. I had considered that approach, but someone who is a raw food person here where I live said it was an exercise in growing mold and attracting flies. AND ANTS. Jiminy, the ants.

    Been doing the green thing long before it was "the thing to do" just because it's the right thing to do; we are stewards of the earth. Organic garden with compost from horse and chickens, diatomaceous earth for insecticide, milky spore powder for grubs, vinegar for cleaning stuff (makes a great laundry rinse, too), high-efficiency front-loading washer--though I do want one of those steam shot cleaners! Don't have a dishwasher either. :shocked:

    Another question: I've read where some people "sweat" their fruit after drying it--put in in a paper bag for a while before sealing it, however they seal it. Anybody familiar with that process?

    Thanks again!
     
  11. VT-aroo

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  12. scríbhneoir
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    Ooooo, time to go google Mr. Brown. He's one of my cooking heroes.

    Thanks!

    Anyone sweat their dried stuff?
     
  13. r-ice
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    bacon has a high chance of going rancid because of the fat that is in it. As for sweating their fruits, i've never done that! I think it might be to make sure if the fruit is a little green to let it developed more and sweeter.. just a guess...and one good thing about the excalibur is that it comes with a timer, and has 9 trays. I regret buying the 4 tray, i should've bought the bigger one, it is an amazing peice of machine.
     
  14. Towanda

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    I just use my oven and an oven thermometer. Get the oven to around 200 degrees F, then pop in a half-sheet of whatever you're drying and prop the door open a couple of inches. Leave things this way overnight, and whatever you're drying should be done by morning.
     
  15. DiabloSc(+)pe

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    That makes sense ! ill stick to bacon bits :lolhammer: Yea I do fruit all the time ! some fruits use a Lemon Brine and some a Sugar Brine , then whatever you addons you want , the one i like to use called Pico De Gallo seasoning , kinda sweet ,sugary ,spicy , salty the best . if i want a more sour taste , i I'll add some citric acid powder , i get at some Arabic Market, You can also find at any East Indian Spice Markets, I dont know if any in your neck of the woods , in Cali we have every kind of store you can think of , no more than five minutes away :p . I'm Hungry Now :brickwall:
     
  16. DiabloSc(+)pe

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    yea i do that all the time when i want to Ripen an Avocado faster or Bananas ill throw in a paper bag ,& Put in a cubbord (Dark&Cool Spot) about a day or two depending on the level of ripeness ,or even throw in a ripe apple in the bag to speedy up the process : Hence The Quote " One Bad Apple Ruins The Bunch " ! :luck:

    I would love to live like that , NC ? if i remember ? thats Awesome "Stewards of the Earth" O0
     
  17. scríbhneoir
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    I checked out his video where he shows the setup and makes jerky. Looks cool, but I still have the issue of five dogs. :idiot2: But that is a very clever method, as per usual with Alton Brown. Also found some interesting ones on Instructables.

    I'll check out the book. Thanks!

    As for the "sweating," I found a reference to it called "conditioning" that applies to fruit only to distribute moisture evenly (www.pickyourown.org).
     
  18. scríbhneoir
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    I'm really liking that one...
     
  19. scríbhneoir
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    Yep, and I meant that we are all stewards of the Earth. We all live here and should do what we can to minimize our impact. (Scouting made a big impression on me. :))
     
  20. r-ice
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    hmm i do think that "I" should do something to minimize my impact on earth, but not a fan of pressured effects!! i feel if I wanted to do it so should i but not if im forced.. anyways.. scribhneoir, what else are you think about? whats stopping you from purchasing one?

    Its true you can use your oven propped open to dehydrate
    you can ues a smoker to dehydrate
    ronco dehydrator is good, it works well
    excalibur works well as well, somewhat even drying
    home made dehydrator box is great if you have time to make it

    But i love my excalibur even though its a 4 tray. When im making my beef jerky its annoying because I always want to make more then 4 trays worth lol.. always!!!