• Post Reply Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic
permaculture forums growies critters building homesteading energy monies kitchen purity ungarbage community wilderness fiber arts art permaculture artisans regional education skip experiences global resources cider press projects digital market permies.com private forums all forums
this forum made possible by our volunteer staff, including ...
master stewards:
  • Nicole Alderman
  • r ranson
  • Anne Miller
  • Pearl Sutton
  • Mike Haasl
stewards:
  • paul wheaton
  • Joylynn Hardesty
  • Dave Burton
master gardeners:
  • jordan barton
  • Greg Martin
  • Steve Thorn
gardeners:
  • Carla Burke
  • Jay Angler
  • Kate Downham

Food dehydrators

 
master pollinator
Posts: 1542
Location: southern Illinois.
302
composting toilet food preservation homestead
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My dehydrator has seen constant use for a month. It looks like this will continue for another couple of months.  We are looking to upgrade.  What are your favorite kinds/brands of dehydrators?

Our current is an Excalibur.
IMG_0315.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_0315.JPG]
 
John F Dean
master pollinator
Posts: 1542
Location: southern Illinois.
302
composting toilet food preservation homestead
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Well, lets try another shot. I have been striking out on getting pictures up correctly.
IMG_0311.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_0311.JPG]
 
pollinator
Posts: 733
147
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Excalibur is the best brand I've found for home scale dehydration. Haven't really explored much recently though since our Excalibur is running strong
 
pollinator
Posts: 1248
Location: Denmark 57N
347
fungi foraging trees cooking food preservation
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I really liked my 20 year old harvest maid, but it died last year, and they don't make them for the European market anymore (no 230V models) I've not found a replacement for it, the ones they sell here are tiny (can do 2 apples at a time) and low quality. and bigger ones like the one in your picture cost 2 months food budget, totally out of the question :( Since they are very rare here they do not come up used at all. I keep an eye on the commercial auctions if any ever come up there they should be a decent price as not many people want such a large and probably 400V model.
 
Posts: 177
Location: New England
50
cat monies home care books cooking writing wood heat ungarbage
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
My dehydrator is my oven, which came with it as an explicit feature. (My oven has a convection feature.) Bosch USA says they don't sell and never have sold dehydration racks for my oven, although they're mentioned in the literature for it. Frustrating!

I use grill baskets instead which work.

I had a small Waring dehydrator when we got the stove about 5 years ago. I gave it away. It was okay but not great. The big thing I miss is the fruit leather sheets which came with it and I don't have now.

We bought racks for a different stove and intend to modify them... it's one project in DH's queue.

The Excalibur was always my dream machine, but I never felt I could justify the expense or counter space.
 
pollinator
Posts: 604
Location: Huntsville Alabama (North Alabama), Zone 7B
82
fish fungi foraging bee building medical herbs
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I made one out of a bread rack, bread trays, an electric smoker element, electric car fan and a controller.  In 24 hours it will dry 6 large bread trays but I do have to rotate them once.
 
gardener
Posts: 1535
Location: Cascades of Oregon
68
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I purchased my latest dehydrator from Cabela's and retired my Harvest Maid.  
 
John F Dean
master pollinator
Posts: 1542
Location: southern Illinois.
302
composting toilet food preservation homestead
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Hi Jennifer,

Ah, you bring up an couple of important points. The Excalibur was free $ wise.  I held (still have though Covid impacted) a job that, though part time, required a great deal of travel.  I ended up with millions of various kinds of travel points. Of course, those are more than a little skewed as to what they can be spent on. But when I checked ...there was the Excalibur as an option. And, yes, the counter top space is a high price. We have lots of counter space, and it still occupies too much.  It has been moved to a storage area and used there.
 
gardener
Posts: 2962
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1081
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jennie Little wrote:

The big thing I miss is the fruit leather sheets which came with it and I don't have now.

I use my oven dehydrate setting to thicken tomato and other fruit using low wall casserole dishes or if desperate, pie plates. I don't normally go as far as fruit leather, but I'm wondering if you look for a suitably shaped silicon pan whether you could get the effect you want?

I also have some sort of round electric 4 tray dehydrator I was given which I use for things like herbs and fruit, but it's been so humid this summer, I haven't used it as much as I'd like to. It's much harder to get things to dry sufficiently if the humidity is high.
 
pollinator
Posts: 3103
Location: Massachusetts, Zone:6/7, AHS:4, Rainfall:48in even Soil:SandyLoam pH6 Flat
308
forest garden solar
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
If you have the time I recommend building a solar dehydrator.
 
Posts: 39
Location: West-central Pennsylvania
11
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Looking for a parts source for a Game Winner M# 1A-DS725. I've tried contacting academy .com, but they haven't responded.
 
pollinator
Posts: 374
Location: Athens, GA Zone 8a
71
  • Likes 3
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I've only tried it a few times because it's been wet, wet, wet this summer with little sun, but I spent some of my stimulus bucks on a Sun Oven, and that can be used for dehydration. I've got the dehydrator trays that came with the package, and I picked up some silicone baking sheets that fit perfectly for when I'm doing messy things like tomatoes: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07HD91WRY/

I noticed Amazon has some very nice items for use with the Excalibur: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B077KTNCZK/ I wish they'd work with my Sun Oven trays, but those are max 9" x 12"

I had TWO Excaliburs years ago that I wound up selling because we were living in an apartment and had no way to grow anything. I'm still kicking myself.

But back to the Sun Oven. The time I had it loaded up, the hardest part was keeping it under 150F. I think the best way to do that is going to be to bring it up to the temperature range I want, then close the solar flaps down to shade the interior some, more like haybox-cooker mode, and let it sit with the glass vented. But the harvest this year has been truly pitiful. All my beautiful tomatoes succumbed to cracking and rot because of all the rain and humidity. We've eaten the okra as fast as I can pick it, so next year we'll plant more. The year I had two 40' rows of okra (an old-time farmer convinced me to plant that much), I almost died from picking it, and we ate on dehydrated okra for three years.

 
Posts: 370
Location: St. George, UT. Zone 8a Dry/arid. 8" of rain in a good year.
101
trees bike greening the desert
  • Likes 5
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
What is my favourite dehydrator?

Well, I've only ever used one type, so I'd have to say it's my 1998 4 runner.

Tons of room, and it didn't cost anything to run it.  If I had more to dehydrate, I could tier racks and really make the most out of the space.

I do live in the desert.....so it probably wouldn't work very well in other places.  I got a tiny amount of mold on a few pieces, but overall it was a success.  I think if I'd set a fan up it would have worked even better.

I do plan on making a "real" one in the future.
IMG_20200715_173541192.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20200715_173541192.jpg]
IMG_20200716_123131967_HDR.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20200716_123131967_HDR.jpg]
IMG_20200715_142915233.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20200715_142915233.jpg]
IMG_20200716_123141288_HDR.jpg
[Thumbnail for IMG_20200716_123141288_HDR.jpg]
 
Posts: 56
Location: Indiana
5
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
So, here is the $100,000.00 question!
How "dry" is "dry" in your estimations?
I have an Excalibur and if I use it I am looking at very long term storage - up to 3 to 5 years when vacuum sealed.
I mostly dry apples and those go down to approximately 5% or less of moisture. Any more than that and you start getting yukky looking product within 2-4 months.
At the 5% or less dryness your apple slices should SNAP when flexed. IF they do NOT snap and you want long term storage - dry them for a couple of more days.
The problem with storage with items that dry is that sharp edges MAY pierce the bags. You may have to double-bag some of the output.

IF you're only looking for instant gratification snacks for that 2 -4 month period they can be left a bit more moist.

If you want to see what really drying does chop up a bunch of carrots into 1/2 inch cubes and toss them into your unit and bake them out totally. They will be about 1/8 the size of the originals that you put in.

Here is an idea for saving some energy. Build a 2 ft. square drying rack for sun drying. Let the sun evaporate a lot of the water/moisture out of your produce then put it into your dehydrator to finish off to the level you want. Handle the food with utensils, NOT your bare hands. Or maybe use good food grade gloves to exchange the produce.
 
Jay Angler
gardener
Posts: 2962
Location: Pacific Wet Coast
1081
duck books chicken cooking food preservation ungarbage
  • Likes 1
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Jesse Glessner wrote:

I have an Excalibur and if I use it I am looking at very long term storage - up to 3 to 5 years when vacuum sealed.  

My experience has been that in my climate, I have to store dried food in glass jars with either metal lids or those clamp-down glass lids. Plastic allows moisture to gradually seep through and our climate is very damp in the winter. I put dried apples in plastic jars one year, but some were in nearly identical glass jars. The glass stored ones kept their "snap", but the others went limp after about 6 months.

The exception is if I'm storing in a fridge - plastic works there because a fridge dehumidifies.
 
Posts: 55
Location: Central Oregon Coast Range, valley side
11
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I'm a big fan of the the box fan, with a air filter duck taped to it, which is then set into the heavy duty cardboard box, which has a series of 1x2"s fed through it at various levels, which hold some 1/4" plywood trays (because scrap) and the plywood trays hold the 16"x24" Silpat nonstick silicon mats.

The parts to make one of these are about $30 and an hour of time if you have the wood laying around.  The Silpat mats are expensive at $30 each, and that was 5 years ago...  However, I've used them repeatedly every year, and they appear brand new (when washed...) and will probably last most of a lifetime (if you treat them nice and don't bake with them and they see no direct sunlight.)

The nonstick mats save a great amount of time if you relegate your dehydrating to leathers only. A person can de-pit half a lug of peaches, toss them in a pot with some tapioca flour and/or honey, use an immersion blender to puree, heat to pasteurize, ladle cooled fruit puree onto silicon mats, spatula into mostly uniform layer over mat, and slide into cardboard box fan dehydrator, peel and turn over the leather when just dry enough usually the second evening....that all takes something like 1/3 the hands on time required to do all the slicing and arranging of individual pieces for drying, in my experience.  Once I went fruit leather on silpat, I never dried a fruit any other way (and starting making tomato sauce with rehydrated tomato leather.  At $20 per hour my silpat mats have bought themselves a few times already.  The fruit leather done like this keeps a nice color and tastes super yum.

I should have found way of storing it in glass by now, but I still plastic bag the leather and put it in the freezer.  It seems like there's no avoiding it here; peach and tomato leather kept for more than 3 months sealed but at room temperature lose a significant amount of delicious, and the freezer seems keep all the flavor for a year.  And if you roll that leather up into a tight cigar, you can pack a lot of it away in a small amount of freezer space.  

There's no heater, so I only run this dehydrator if day time highs are 90f+.  Otherwise it take more than 3 days, loses more color.  A person could probably set it up in a greenhouse or car and get it to finish real fast, or do it without the fan.   Although a box fan only needs a few kWh to get it done at outdoor ambient temperature here, and I found a box fan, so I'm box fanning it.

Happy dehydrating
 
Posts: 17
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
Re Fruit leathers. I had my first attempt this summer and very successful it was too. Trying to keep some back for the grandchildrens first visit post covid next week! What I used was a silicon baking sheet in my oven roasting tray, and left it overnight (on a timer so it switched off after a few hours). The oven is a fan convector type so a good airflow through. Not very energy efficient but it is a nice snack treat.
 
Posts: 11
Location: Cape Cod Ma
  • Likes 2
  • Mark post as helpful
  • send pies
  • Quote
  • Report post to moderator
I bought a Cosori from Amazon this summer and have dried tomatoes, zucchinni and now basil. It works great and holds a lot of food. They also have a team of people that you can email and ask questions which I've done several times.
 
Of course, I found a very beautiful couch. Definitely. And this tiny ad:
100th Issue of Permaculture Magazine - now FREE for a while
https://permies.com/goodies/45/pmag
reply
    Bookmark Topic Watch Topic
  • New Topic