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aka avdpas77
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There is a thread today about food dehydrators on sale. I have always liked the idea of one, but in real practice, what they produce never has appealed much to me. I do like dried fruit, but we don't have apples, plums or grapes, etc. and it would be an unusual event for us to pick up any in a large enough quantity to dry. Don't eat much jerky, so that is not much of a enticement.

We have tried drying vegetables, and it works "OK" but we would just as soon can. They don't seem to rehydrate that well, and have an odd taste.

Actually, the only thing we usually dehydrate is spices; basil, chillis, sage etc. We did dry some chives, and weren't tha impressed with them either.

For that reason we have never invested in a quality dehydrator, since it would be another "thing" to take up space. The question is, then, Are we overlooking the potential of the thing or are we simply not the right people to need one?
 

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There is a thread today about food dehydrators on sale. I have always liked the idea of one, but in real practice, what they produce never has appealed much to me. I do like dried fruit, but we don't have apples, plums or grapes, etc. and it would be an unusual event for us to pick up any in a large enough quantity to dry. Don't eat much jerky, so that is not much of a enticement.

We have tried drying vegetables, and it works "OK" but we would just as soon can. They don't seem to rehydrate that well, and have an odd taste.

Actually, the only thing we usually dehydrate is spices; basil, chillis, sage etc. We did dry some chives, and weren't tha impressed with them either.

For that reason we have never invested in a quality dehydrator, since it would be another "thing" to take up space. The question is, then, Are we overlooking the potential of the thing or are we simply not the right people to need one?
I can't tell you what you are. I can only say that it is very handy for me to put something that I was not going to use in the dehydrator in small batches to save it. I use a lot of vegetable powder as flavoring rather than reconstitute to use as I would fresh. I throw small chunks of dried veggies in soups or sauces. I use powders as meat rubs like some use spices.
I do not treat most dried stuff as substitutes for fresh. I change to stored things like cabbage and squash. Just sort of change from fresh to other things seasonally. And by the time that gets old, it's spring again.
If I didn't sort of have that natural change, I would probability not dehydrate so much.
I do not can as it's too much bother for me to collect and process big batches anymore.

PS I did not mean that to sound so snotty- just if you are a person who abides with the closest to fresh all year long, dehyrating is not going to make it for you.
 

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I make yogurt in mine. Once I switched to a gas stove from electric I could never get the temp right to keep my culture warm enough. But I also dehydrate grains for bread and oats for cereal after I soak and sprout them. I seem to always have that thing running and full of vegetables when I don't have enough to can or the extra freezer space. Same as with the yogurt, it keeps dough warm while it's rising.

I can't speak to the taste of rehydrated vegetables, though, because almost every time they end up being in sauce or soup where all the flavors blend together.
 
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I use mine to save things that would otherwise go bad and end up thrown away (dog bowl or worm farm)... That way, the humans can use it, thus saving me money on my food bill.
 

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I've got mushrooms in mine right now. Working on my 5th quart.

Things I like to dehydrate;
mushrooms
onions
garlic
mints including catnip
parsley
sage
kale
spinach
apples
bananas
celery
cherry tomatoes
carrots
JERKY
JERKY
JERKY

Uses, you can use dried mushrooms, onion and garlic in any recipe where you would normally put them, except on pizza. If you use them in omelets you need to let them soften in milk first.

Mints, tea. Lots of other things can be dried for use in tea, I just haven't got around to doing them yet.

Parsley and sage, can be used like the stuff you buy from the store. The same goes for many other herbs but those are the ones I've worked with.

Apples and bananas, snacking! Pineapple is ok but mine comes out hard and pokes the inside of my mouth.

Kale, spinach, tomatoes, celery, carrots, these I use in those instant noodle packages when I'm starving and have little time to cook or I'm feeling sick but hungry.

Many vegetables have to be blanched. I find that kale, carrots and celery all need to be blanched or partially cooked in order to turn out okay when rehydrated.

We did apple slices dipped in cinnamon one year. Oh those were soooo good! Take the rinsed apple slices and dip them in the cinnamon while still damp and place on the dehydrator trays. Mmmmmm!
 

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I don't know if you backpack but if you do a dehydrator will enable you to eat incredibly well for cheap!

All sort of recipes for making dried meals on the www.

I took 9 people for a 4 day trip into the wilderness. My neighbor made and dried all of our food. WOW incredible yummy food for cheap.
 

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A lot of hikers use dehydrators just as mrswhodunit mentioned. The dehydrated food takes up hardly any room and is a lot lighter to pack.

Preppers are also using them as a way to beef up the pantry supplies.

I have never used my dehydrator for drying herbs; I just snip them and keep them in a shallow bowl and stir them up a couple times a day when I walk by them. Not sure it would be worth it to turn on the dehydrator for herbs.

We made a lot of Rhubarb leather in the Excalibur this year. We love it and nibble on it all the time. We made a blend too of Rhubarb Banana and also Rhubarb Apple - it's delicious! Normally we make a batch of Rhubarb wine from our patch, but we still have a lot in bottles from last year, so we tried something different (and more healthy) :)
 

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There is a thread today about food dehydrators on sale. I have always liked the idea of one, but in real practice, what they produce never has appealed much to me. I do like dried fruit, but we don't have apples, plums or grapes, etc. and it would be an unusual event for us to pick up any in a large enough quantity to dry. Don't eat much jerky, so that is not much of a enticement.

We have tried drying vegetables, and it works "OK" but we would just as soon can. They don't seem to rehydrate that well, and have an odd taste.

Actually, the only thing we usually dehydrate is spices; basil, chillis, sage etc. We did dry some chives, and weren't tha impressed with them either.

For that reason we have never invested in a quality dehydrator, since it would be another "thing" to take up space. The question is, then, Are we overlooking the potential of the thing or are we simply not the right people to need one?

I wouldn't make the investment on a Excalibur if you're not sure you will use the machine enough. If you get an inexpensive one you can try it for a couple years to find out if you'd get enough use out of the Excalibur.

I think you can find them fairly cheap - I did buy a $50 Salton at Walmart. It did the job but not as well as the Excalibur. That being said, spending hundreds of $$ on a dehydrator is an investment.
 

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Dallas
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I wouldn't make the investment on a Excalibur if you're not sure you will use the machine enough. If you get an inexpensive one you can try it for a couple years to find out if you'd get enough use out of the Excalibur.

I think you can find them fairly cheap - I did buy a $50 Salton at Walmart. It did the job but not as well as the Excalibur. That being said, spending hundreds of $$ on a dehydrator is an investment.
Cheap dehydrators are terrible (poor temp and air control), this is one case where you get what you pay for.
 

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I have a cheap round dehydrator bought at a ts for $7 years ago, use it to dry Apple and banana slices for snacks primarily (I have an unfortunate addiction to banana laffy taffy, the dried banana is a much healthier and better tasting option). But when I get a good deal on frozen veggies I stock up and dry them as well. Broccoli, peppers, onions, celery...not sure if you can can those, but they dry great and are really convenient for soups and sauces. And when I'm tired of canning tomatoes I dry them sliced and eat them like chips - delicious!
 

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I'm pretty much of the same mindset as the OP...don't use one enough to invest in a more costly one.

I have an older Nesco American Harvest that suits my purposes for now as I use it mainly for breadcrumbs/cubes and okra (it's REALLY good as a snack...who'd a-thunk it!). However, me and my Mom are planning on going to a couple of U-Picks next year for peaches and apples, so, even though she doesn't know it yet, we'll be splitting the cost on an Excalibur.
 

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I'm still using a cheap Ronco. It does involve a tad more work because you have to rotate trays but it does the job just fine. It's really ds's but I've been using it for about 10 years. I wouldn't hesitate to buy 2 or 3 more if I could find them.
 

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aka avdpas77
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Discussion Starter #14
I don't know if you backpack but if you do a dehydrator will enable you to eat incredibly well for cheap!

All sort of recipes for making dried meals on the www.

I took 9 people for a 4 day trip into the wilderness. My neighbor made and dried all of our food. WOW incredible yummy food for cheap.
We are to long in the tooth to do much backpacking now, but we used to do it a lot. We mostly lived on granola and dried fruits... but those fruits could be purchased already dried much cheaper than I could buy fresh and dry them myself. Most of the other food was pasta, rice and stuff like irradiated meat. We tried the "pre packackaged" dehydrated meals and never thought much of them.
 

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Folks who buy dehydrators thinking they'll got products like the apricots that come in boxes are in for a rude surprise. I had good luck with apples, though the firmer, more tart varieties are make a better slice. Things like macs are just sweetish newspaper, really. Seedless local grapes grown here in western NYS are tasty, but they aren't really seedless, so you need to get used to a little crunch. Veggies not nice, imo :( I freeze things like parsley and chives at the last minute before they freeze hard outside. A few freezer boxes last till next spring.
 

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Yeah, pineapples aren't chewy like the ones from the store. They are hard and pokey and if I had known I would have cut them into smaller pieces. Good flavor but you have to suck on them for a while before you can get them chewy. I guess what is sold in the stores is really candied pineapple.
 

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Our dehydrator runs all summer long! I calculated I dried well over a 1,000 Principe Borghese tomatoes this summer.

Dehydrated veggies are fantastic for soups, stews, rice, omelets etc. They are not a substitution for fresh or canned veggies as a side dish.

I was just posting in another thread how my soups have been elevated to a new level and are so easy with all my dehydrated veggies. I sauteed fresh onions, carrots and celery (which at the moment we have fresh), threw in some italian sausage, added stock, home canned kidney and garbanzo's, and a handful of dried green beans, zucchini and tomatoes. In a few months all of those veggies might be dried. They hold their shape well in soup, the zucchini doesn't turn to mush.

We made rice in the rice cooker last night, DH threw in dried onions and peppers.

There was an excellent thread in the Preserving the Harvest forum started by Where I Want To if anyone's interested.

Oh, and I don't dry much fruit as w're not big fruit eaters.
 
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