Food dehydrator
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  1. #1
    Registered User Dancing Lotus's Avatar
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    Default Food dehydrator

    I got an early mothers day gift that I think many of you would love.
    For months I have been talking about getting an Excalibur Dehydrator. I have been tucking away extra cash to save for one.
    I guess hubby didn't want to hear me talk about it anymore because the UPS guy just dropped one off!
    9-Tray Large-Excalibur with 26 hour Timer #3926T - Commercial Food & Fruit Dehydrator from Excalibur

    I guess this means I have to forgive hubby for getting on my nerves lately.

    Anybody have one?

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    McD
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    What a fun gift AnnK! I don't know anything about food dehydrators, but I moved this thread to the Kitchen forum so that some of our dehydrating gurus would be sure to see it!

    That was very very sweet of your dh!
    McD
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    Thanks for moving it MrsMcD.

    Congrats on a neat gift! You will love it I am sure.

    Yes, annk...a number of people have them. You should get some good info about it on here. I only have a small Amer. Harvest.......haven't even added more trays yet but it serves my purpose well.

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    YEP, I have one and it is wonderful! I bought it used on Craigslist. Check out Dehydrate2Store.com | Welcome - Educating and Helping Those Who Want To Learn About Dehydration.

    Congratulations!
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    Congratulations on your new dehydrator. That's a great link savvy_sniper posted, but I'd also suggest The National Center for Home Food Preservation - National Center for Home Food Preservation | How Do I? Dry.

    There are new home drying recommendations for preventing microorganisms, such as Salmonella and E. Coli 0157:H7 in home-dehydrated foods that include pre-treatment with an acid bath that aren't always indicated in books and web sites. You'll find those treatments in the instructions at the National Center for Home Food Preservation, or more information from Colorado State University: Drying Fruits

    Two other tools that go well with a dehydrator are a cutting mandoline and a FoodSaver. It's important to slice food you are dehydrating the same thickness, when possible, so they dry evenly; and a mandoline slices foods quickly. You may also want a cut-resistant glove to wear when using a mandoline. Foods that are dehydrated will keep MUCH longer if you can vacuum-seal them in canning jars using a FoodSaver.

    Helpful hint: You can dehydrate frozen food from the grocery store. I purchased a large quantity of drastically discounted frozen peas, corn, and mixed vegetables and dehydrated it because I didn't have freezer room in my refrigerator/freezer.

    There is also a method called DEHYDROFREEZING, which is a combination of dehydrating and freezing. Fruits dried at home normally have had 80% of their moisture removed; vegetables, 90%. When you do dehydrofreezing, you remove only about 70% of the moisture and then you MUST store the food in the freezer to prevent microbial growth because of the extra moisture. Benefits from dehydrofreezing...

    -The food takes up less space in the freezer.
    -Foods retain better flavor and color.
    -The food rehydrates in about half the time it takes for traditionally dried foods.

    ENJOY!!!

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    jas
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    Ann I have the Excalibur and love it! You will have fun learning and dehydrating stuff.

    This week at Aldi they have pineapple on sale for like a 1.50 it is an easy and tasty food to make as a snack.

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    Registered User Dancing Lotus's Avatar
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    Thanks for all the great tips! I already have all my trays full because I was too eager to wait. But The next batch will be better planned.

    I love dried peas to munch on, just may try getting some frozen ones and doing a GIANT batch.

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    Registered User MakeADollarHollar's Avatar
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    Yep! Got the Excalibur as well. You're gonna love it! Matter of fact I got a load of mushrooms in right now!

    Definitely check out Dehydrate2Store! And, Mary Bell's Complete Dehydrator Cookbook. She's covered EVERYTHING in that book!

    Have fun!!
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    I have one. Kids eat what I fix before I can put away. It's been hit and miss. But thanks for the sites for me to improve.
    Jan

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    Beef Jerky!!!!!

    Oh, how I love beef jerky.

    I also do dried fruit. If I can't figure out what to do with some random fruit I bought from the Asian market, I just dehydrate and snack.

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    Registered User Dancing Lotus's Avatar
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    Well my first batch is taking WAY longer then any directions say it should.

    If anyone is familiar with Raw Living you know that once a food is heated beyond 118 degrees the enzymes are killed. SO I have mine set at 115 degrees. BUT gosh that has more then doubled the estimated drying times. I wonder if it's because my climate is humid?

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    Registered User Dancing Lotus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mndtrp View Post
    Beef Jerky!!!!!

    Oh, how I love beef jerky.

    I also do dried fruit. If I can't figure out what to do with some random fruit I bought from the Asian market, I just dehydrate and snack.
    Thanks but NO beef for me. I'm really trying to buckle down on my attempt at living raw vegan.

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    Moderator Luckybustert's Avatar
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    I have the Excalibur too - love it! I hope you will join us this month What's in Your Dehydrator - May 2010 (and future months too!) in the dehydrating thread to share all the great things you're doing with your new dehydrator!

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    Quote Originally Posted by AnnK View Post
    Well my first batch is taking WAY longer then any directions say it should.

    If anyone is familiar with Raw Living you know that once a food is heated beyond 118 degrees the enzymes are killed. SO I have mine set at 115 degrees. BUT gosh that has more then doubled the estimated drying times. I wonder if it's because my climate is humid?
    I'm familiar with "Raw Living". If you are going to be using enzyme-preserving low temperatures and you live in a humid climate, you may have some challenges ahead of you. The temperature may need to be increased slightly to off-set the effects of high humidity to prevent your food from spoiling before it's properly dried. The optimum temperature for drying food is considered 140F, but not all foods dry properly at the same temperature.

    Air flow is equally as important as temperature. It's all about dispelling the moisture to the air, and you get better results by moving that moist air away from the food by increasing air flow, than you would increasing the temperature. When using low-temperature drying, make sure there is a LOT of room between your foods. Don't over-lap foods and take care to spread them in a single layer. Use thin slices, when possible. Don't over-load the trays OR over-fill the machine - especially if you have high humidity to begin with. Expect it to take much longer at lower temperatures than at higher temperatures.

    If you are drying sliced items, like a banana, zucchini or potato, where the ends yield smaller slices than the center of the fruit, place all the small end slices on one tray, and the larger slices on another tray. The small end slices will dry sooner than the larger slices. By separating the slices by size, you will have a tray done at the same time because of similar-sized slices. You may find you have small, medium, and large slices to accommodate, all from the same piece of fruit or vegetable because of it's graduated shape.

    Keep in mind, the air temperature and the internal temperature of the food aren't the same thing. When I bake a loaf of bread in a 375F oven, the internal temperature of a loaf when completely baked is 195-205F, NOT 350F of the oven temperature.

    Caution... Your produce may end up being too moist for storage at these low temperatures depending on the food, thickness (slices or whole, etc.), and moisture content, if you aren't very careful. I'd be VERY cautious and ALWAYS use the acidic bath treatment (I mentioned above in my other post) to increase food safety against potential bacteria growth since you are using low temperatures. You also won't be able to do any meat or dairy products because of these unsafe temperatures. Store them in the freezer if you are concerned with the amount of moisture. Foods you store at room temperature, store in a glass container. Check them shortly after placing in storage. If you see any moisture accumulating in the jar, return the food to the dehydrator. Potatoes are notorious for molding, so you may want to skip dehydrating them if you are using low-temperature dehydrating.

    Not all foods dry properly at the same temperature, and 115F is very low. A bit of research will give you a list of foods that are better candidates for that low temperature than other foods. I sprout grain and dry it at 115F, as one example. I also soak pecans, almonds, walnuts and pumpkin seeds in lightly salted water overnight, then I dehydrate them at 105-115F until they are "crispy", in order to make them easier to digest. Since cashews (even so-called "raw" cashews) have already been heat processed, the enzymes have already been destroyed during processing. There is a toxic oil called cardol between the inner and outer shell of cashews. This is released by cracking the nuts and roasting them at 350F. They are then cracked and roasted once again. These are then marketed as "raw" cashews. You can soak them in lightly salted water and then lightly toast them to make them more digestible. "Raw" cashews should be soaked no more than 6 hours. When possible, buy whole cashews, rather than pieces. Whole cashews are less likely to be stale.

    Another challenge, some foods require pretreatments, which can include blanching in hot water before drying (recommended for asparagus, green beans, broccoli, brussels sprouts, cauliflower, peas, cranberries). Blanching for a short period to cause checking of skins (skins break open - otherwise you have to cut them open). Pumpkin or winter squash is sliced and baked at 300F (until soft) and then the slices are dehydrated.

    Foods that need to be dried until they are crispy can't always be accomplished with low heat.

    Purees are different from whole foods, therefore when making fruit or vegetable leathers, the temperature needs to be around 140F. Process until the purees are set, remove from plastic wrap or fruit leather sheets, and finish drying them on the screens.

    Most of us rely on the taste/touch test for dryness, but in your case, you may want to start weighing your produce BEFORE and AFTER drying to assure you are removing enough moisture so it doesn't mold during storage. I'd suggest you get the book, How To Dry Foods by Deanna DeLong. This book gives you the water content of food items that is EXTREMELY helpful for checking weight. As an example:

    "If you are drying apricots, weigh them after removing the pits. Suppose you have 25 pounds. ...the water content of apricots is given at 85% or 0.85. The percentage of water most fruits must lose in the drying process is 80% to 85%."

    1. Find the total weight of water in the fruit:
    Weight of edible fresh fruit times the percentage of water content equals the total weight of water.

    For apricots:
    25 x 0.85 = 21.25 pounds of water

    2. To find the weight of water which must be removed, multiply the total weight of water by the percentage of water to be removed.

    21.25 x 0.80 = 17 pounds to be removed

    3. To find out how much the apricots should weigh after they are dried, subtract the weight of water to be removed from the weight of the fresh apricots.

    25 - 17 = 8 pounds of dried fruit.

    In this example, if the fruit weighs 9 pounds, then they need to dry longer.

    The nutritive value of dehydrated foods are altered, so don't consider them a total replacement for fresh. Drying destroys most of the vitamin C in vegetables and in unsulfured fruits. Using an ascorbic acid dip will replenish a portion of that. Much of the vitamin A is also destroyed, especially in sun-dried foods. Sulfuring protects against the loss of vitamins C and A in fruits, but it also destroys thiamine.

    Minerals and many vitamins are water-soluble, so when you rehydrate your dried foods, find a use for any leftover water you soak your foods in.

    Good luck with your "Raw Food" diet.

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    Registered User Liane's Avatar
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    Congrats on your dehydrator. I want to get one. Thank you all for the great advice on how to use them.

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