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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I personally do not have a dehydrator (yet) but hope to get one for Christmas or soon after. I am interested in knowing if I have missed a thread that contains dehydrating topics. If I have, please provide link.

I would like to know what all can be dehydrated and taste wonderful as is (bananas, jerky I have heard are great) and how to use/make recipes with things that are dehydrated.

Any help is greatly appreciated. I read the wonderful posts of recipes from RockyGlen in another thread and she frequently mentioned dehydrated things so I am very anxious to get this input from everyone. Thank you and Merry Christmas to all.

DC
 

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Mass merchandiser dehydrators leave an awful lot to be desired and they use costly energy in varying amounts.
We built a hanging assembly of large, older oven racks that hangs by the wood stove. It holds two restaurant grade stainless steam table pans approx. 14x24 on each "shelf". There are five shelves, but more could be added.
When the stove is up to full seasonal operating temperature, such things as quarter inch sliced apples and beef or venison jerky can be dried to crisp in less than two days. We use the assembly to final dry such things as beans, peanuts, corn.... anything we plan to use for seed and put in jars over the winter.
We dry hot and mild peppers to be ground for varying degrees of spice, all manner of herbs, fruits, pumpkin rings, herbal roots fro future extracts, etc.
For the smaller items, we place them, sliced and peel side down, directly on the stainless pans. For larger items and jerky, we lay things directly on the grates or hang things individually from each rail of the grate.

We also built a stationary model from wooden 2x2s and steel rods that sits in the kitchen. It holds the stainless pans as well, as individual shelves, numbering 11 total. Items can be slow dried in this and stored for winter cooking needs; onions, garlic, potatoes, basil, peppers and various tea ingredients such as rose hips, pine needles, orange and lemon peels, herbs, etc.
Both assemblies are part of the permanent decor and neither is ever empty.
As the economy potentially grinds to a halt and manufacturing ceases in some areas, dehydration will become the primary means by which to preserve food.
Those old canning jars and even the used lids and rings make excellent storage containers for dehydrated goods.
Familiarizing yourself with the dehydration process and incorporating it into your culinary life, now, is a huge step in the direction of self-sufficiency.
 

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I have a Gardenmaster dehydrator and use it for many things. It takes up to 30 trays at a time and has the power to dry that amount evenly and in a short period of time. I have done bushels of apple slices in it, fruit leather, tomatoes, peppers, celery, sprouted grains, jerky, mushrooms, pears and more in mine and wouldn't be without it. I like it because it has a nice temperature control that allows me to dry things from as little as 95 degrees.
I use the veggies as is and just throw them into soups, stews or whatever and they rehydrate in the liquid. The dried apples can be rehydrated for pies and such but we like them as a natural snack. I don't dip them in anything and they come out nice and light in color. There are recipes for making spiced apple slices out there too.
The other great thing about dehydrated foods is the small amount of storage space that they take as opposed to canned or frozen foods. I vacuum seal the finished products either in jars or bags and they keep virtually forever.
Dehydrated zucchini slices make great snacks as the flavor really comes out in them.
I think that a dehydrator no matter what brand you choose will be a great thing to have. There are different sizes and types out there. I would just suggest getting one with a temperature control as opposed to just and on and off switch.
 

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You'll find a lot of topics on dehydrating in the preserving the produce forum. Personally, I use my dehydrating every time I get a excess load of veggies and fruit be it my own or store bought. We store small amounts in jars for immediate use and large amounts get vacuum packed for long term storage.
 

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Thanks Zookeeper. I think my fingers were typing before my brain this morning. :)
 

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We've found that if we give apple and garlic slices a dip in a vitamin C/ascorbic acid water bath, they don't darken nearly as much as when we don't. I don't have the concentration at hand, but it's in "Stocking Up" or on the bottles of commercial Fruit Fresh.

I dry slices of paste tomatoes, and grind small amounts as needed. With a little water: tomato paste. I don't bother to reconstitute it when adding to tomato sauce, just put it in.

Peeled, sliced pumpkin sprinkled with pumpkin pie spice is almost like candy when dried. I'm going to try some of the sweeter winter squashes this year.

Grapes should be parboiled until the skins crack, or they take FOREVER to dry and still aren't nearly as good.

I dry everything to the hard and brittle stage, and just store it in jars. No mold worries this way.
 

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Does anyone dry meat without using salt or soy sauce as a preservative? Jerky is all right but not for use in cooking meat dishes.
 

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Welcome, Dream Catcher!

Using an internet search engine, you can type in "dehydrating" or "cooking with dehydrated foods" and find tons of information. Also, most dehydrator manufacturers include a fairly comprehensive instruction book with the product. These booklets contain good dehydrating tips and even recipes.

If you really want to go crazy, you can find books on dehydrating on Amazon.com. I really like abebooks.com for good used books.

A few books that come to mind are "Complete Dehydrator Cookbook" by Mary Bell. ISBN is 0-688-13024-0

Another is "Canning, Freezing and Drying". This one is a Sunset publication, and the ISBN is 0-376-02213-2

If you really like jerky, you might want to check out "Jerky" by A.D. Livingston. ISBN is 1-58574-248-1

Hope that was helpful.

NeHi
 

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Ask Santa for "How to Dry Foods" by Deanna DeLong. Great book!
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thank you all very much for the great information.

Forerunner, would you please post pictures? I would love to see both types you have made. I definitely like the idea of having one that functions without electricity!! Fabulous.

Mass merchandiser dehydrators leave an awful lot to be desired and they use costly energy in varying amounts.
We built a hanging assembly of large, older oven racks that hangs by the wood stove. It holds two restaurant grade stainless steam table pans approx. 14x24 on each "shelf". There are five shelves, but more could be added.
When the stove is up to full seasonal operating temperature, such things as quarter inch sliced apples and beef or venison jerky can be dried to crisp in less than two days. We use the assembly to final dry such things as beans, peanuts, corn.... anything we plan to use for seed and put in jars over the winter.


We also built a stationary model from wooden 2x2s and steel rods that sits in the kitchen. It holds the stainless pans as well, as individual shelves, numbering 11 total.

Familiarizing yourself with the dehydration process and incorporating it into your culinary life, now, is a huge step in the direction of self-sufficiency.
 

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Here are two shots of the dryer above the wood stove, including my 14 year old daughter. As you can see, it need not be complicated.




 

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Is she standing on a stool, and the stove below those racks?
Very neat rack system, thanks for the pictures! I am kind of messy, I imagine ash dust on everything, but in the short time it's there, maybe that isn't a problem.
I have 2 Harvest Maid dehyrators. Found one at a yard sale this summer and couldn't pass it up for $10, I doubt it was even used once. I love dried apples, used to always make a bunch for my young nephew. He loved them so much he offered this advice to his mother, "Don't eat too many or it'll give you the runs." He had eaten a whole bag, probably the equivelant of 12 apples!
 

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Yes, she is on a small ladder.
Yes, if we leave things on the racks too long, they become a bit dusty. :)

I'm traveling at the moment. When I get back home in a week or so, I'll take and post a few pics of the kitchen drying/storage system.
The friend I am visiting has finally gotten me over the top with posting images to imageshack, etc. What fun. I'll be on a roll now.
 

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We've got a dehydrator, it sits in the closet. It takes a long time, uses electricity and you need a room full of something to make a baggie full. Better to use the racks as someone else pictured.
 
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