Setup For Dehydration

@monica197 I made a dehydrator thread.

The Excalibur dehydrators are quite popular. They have stainless steel construction.

Excalibur Food Dehydrators - America's Best Dehydrator!

Here at Excalibur, the Science and Technology of Dehydration is our Main Business. We are the world leaders when it comes to food dehydration technology for home and commercial…

I bought a dehydrator that was available in a local kitchen supply store and that was the Nesco Gardenmaster. It is made of synthetic material, but it is expandable by about 5X to 20 trays. Note that the temperature control goes down low to 90 degrees F. This is lower than what Excalibur says is a low temperature.

FD-1040 Gardenmaster Digital Pro Dehydrator – NESCO

1000 watts of drying power provides even heat distribution Adjustable digital time & temperature control (90°F - 160°F) (4) BPA Free trays with 1 sq. ft. of drying area per tray -…

Depending on your climate and area drying can be done outside, in the sun, or shade, and in sheds etc. Drying is traditional food preservation! To preserve food enzymes we may wish to dry at low temperatures . Meat can be preserved by drying, as jerky. Fruit leathers can be made too. I would say how noisy the dryer is is important, unless you can sit it in a room by itself. Drying takes big blocks of time so a noisy item in the kitchen can be tiresome.

Sometimes the dryers we select are what comes up on the second hand market, too.



  • lewis.mary.e
    lewis.mary.e Posts: 225 ✭✭✭

    We have 2 dehydrators. One is a Nesco brand, not sure about the other. We use them often enough that I know where they are in my house. ;)

    We've made delicious fruit leather, but we've never made jerky.

    We never dehydrate onions or hot peppers in the house. Learned that lesson the first time.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 1,938 ✭✭✭✭✭

    Is it weird kinda, that I have 3 dehydrators, 1 very old Ronco type from almost 40 years ago, a nesco with more trays than I remember and one from Cabelas that is the same style configuration as an excalibur. However, we live off grid so I do not have electricity to run them :( still I won't give them up. I keep telling myself one day I will be able to use them again.

    Never had a problem when doing onions in the house though, Guess the scent just doesn't bother us.

  • VermontCathy
    VermontCathy Posts: 1,821 ✭✭✭✭✭

    There seems to be a significant price difference between the basic round dehydrators like the one I have, and the higher-end rectangular ones with trays. The more expensive ones have been designed to have a more even airflow.

    I've good success with my cheap round one, though, and I'd encourage people to give dehydration a try without spending too much. Experiment and see what works. Even a simple one can produce good dried fruit.

    If you can do it outside in summer, that's great, but here in a humid area with short summers it would be difficult.

  • annbeck62
    annbeck62 Posts: 980 ✭✭✭✭

    I have an excalibur and I absolutely love it. It was an investment but mine is almost 20 years old and still works perfectly. I bought a 5 tray because I thought it would be easier to store but if I had to do it all over again I'd probably get a 9 tray because when I use it I dehydrate a lot at one time.

  • @lewis.mary.e yes, I have dried jalapenos in the house and it can be intense lol. But I love hot peppers. The year I did that I had some of the hottest I've ever grown. I just did ring slices and left the seed in them. I can eat pretty hot stuff but even 3 rings in a crock pot of beans is a bit much lol. Interestingly the seeds are still viable.

  • flowerpower *
    flowerpower * Posts: 257 ✭✭✭

    I have found that using the dried foods takes some changing of habits and recipes. Anyone have some tips on how to manage the dried foods?

  • happy-trails
    happy-trails Posts: 170 ✭✭✭

    The dehydrator I own is Cabela's brand. It was a gift, which I'm grateful for, but I'm concerned that it may be coated with chemicals, because it is not stainless steel... And if so, how harmful is it, with the dehydrator's maximum heat being 160 degrees Fahrenheit? I definitely don't want to be consuming traces of toxins. I have a huge batch of jerky going right now, one sweet & savory asian flavor and the other is classic. Does anybody have a healthy & chewy fruit leather recipe they would recommend?

  • Torey
    Torey Posts: 5,396 admin

    @flowerpower * Check out the Purposeful Pantry. Lots of ideas and recipes.

  • happy-trails
    happy-trails Posts: 170 ✭✭✭

    flowerpower * I usually will throw my dehydrated mushrooms, tomatoes, other veggies, etc into a bowl of barely warm water to rehydrate before cooking, if I'm concerned about them robbing the recipe of moisture. Otherwise I just mix them in - for example, I'll blend them into raw eggs before cooking an omelette. I hope I understood your question!

  • John
    John Posts: 163 ✭✭✭

    Wonderful post and comments. Have done some dehydrating in the past, but the current situation in the world has got me back into making and growing and preparing more and more of our own food. Well said all! :)

  • marjstratton
    marjstratton Posts: 1,131 ✭✭✭✭

    Years ago, I wanted to build myself a dehydrator. That particular project never got done. However, I found a round dehydrator (a Sunbeam) and it has served my quite well for many years. It only has an on/off switch, no temperature controls. I can also dehydrate in my toaster/oven. It is a convection oven, so has the moving air. I am still tempted by a nice bigger dehydrator like a Cabela's or an Excalibur. But not wanting to spend that kind of money... What I really like about dehydrated food is how little space it takes to store it. Sometimes, I'll put my dehydrated food in the freezer (in a mason jar), just to keep it a little fresher.

  • flowerpower *
    flowerpower * Posts: 257 ✭✭✭

    @marjstratton Yes, dehydrated food is compact and light. It requires little energy to store - should not be too hot, cold, or exposed to sunlight though. The containers can be robust and yet inexpensive. Since dried food is compact and light and durable a huge supply of it can be transported from one home to another in an emergency! Also with some area prep. we could cache dried food to prepare for disasters.

    Any dried food is better than no food, yet temperature control is important to preserve peak quality in the foods, and for safely preparing meat jerkys.

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭✭

    My Excalibur wouldn't fit in my suitcase when I moved to South America, and I miss it. But electricity here is expensive, and during the fall and winter months, the climate is dry. So I air-dry herbs and vegetables. I'm looking for something like an old wooden picture frame that I can staple some screen on and make a drying rack.

  • Acequiamadre
    Acequiamadre Posts: 269 ✭✭✭

    I am halfway through building a solar dehydrator, which I hope works for many things given my dry climate.

    Costco has a dehydrator, but I have yet to purchase one for sake of space, money, and general procrastination.

    Anyone here built a solar dehydrator?

  • Tave
    Tave Posts: 951 ✭✭✭✭✭

    This website has interesting plans for DIY dehydrators. There are several studies on the difference between sun-drying and shade-drying, and both have pros and cons. Doc Jones mentioned that sun-drying destroys the medicinal properties of the herbs.

  • vickeym
    vickeym Posts: 1,938 ✭✭✭✭✭

    @monica197 torey and Tave Thank you all for the great links and thank you to everyone for sharing your information and personal experiences. We are planning to build and try a solar dehydrator of some type this year. Now we have lots of information, plans and styles to test.