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Old 07-26-2020, 01:00 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is offline
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Dehydrators, who has them?

We've been starting to use a friends Excalibur Dehydrator lately. We had one of those plastic round ones someone gave us, but we're not impressed. I've been looking at the LEM which is an Excalibur clone and a few other of the box type.

One is the Cosori 6 tray. I did notice that there were some less than stellar reviews dated 2020, but overall it seems to have high ratings. In one customer service seemed pretty solid from the company.

While you can dry can a lot of goods, including dehydrated foods, I'm looking more at mylar bags with oxygen absorbers, then store the bags in buckets and tubs. That in addition to some regular canning as well.

From the standpoint of labor involved, materials costs, and being able to reduce volume for long term storage, dehydrating has a lot going for it. Granted you do need water to rehydrate, but let's face it. If you don't have water at that point you're screwed anyway. You can also pack along a lot of home dehydrated foods if you need to change areas. Glass breaks and is heavy.

As noted, we'll do some traditional canning as well. I'm big on the don't put all your eggs in one basket. Or jar, or bag, etc.. With that in mind I'd like to hear from anyone out there using the box types and how they like them? I'm wanting to stay under the $200 mark.

Lessons learned and favorite recipes or things to dry are welcome too.
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Old 07-26-2020, 03:02 PM
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I made one:



This is what I need to make S. African biltong and dried sausage - a Lowes' plastic tub with lid, some dowel rods, a PC fan to extract the air and a PC vent in front to allow air in. Dries via air convection, not heat.
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Old 07-26-2020, 06:35 PM
wccountryboy wccountryboy is online now
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I have a Weston dehydrator. The temperature is adjustable, and its big enough for volume production.

Like Andy, I make and use a lot of biltong- probably 40-60#s a year. I learned about it from him. I also make dowores in 20# batches- another South African product.

That said, air drying is NOT "dehydrating". While the process is fundamentally the same, heat IS a factor. So is humidity. Get either wrong, and you'll likely have an unpleasant experience..... a drying box may work IF you have a hot enough room, and can manage humidity. At 72, you're begging for botulism....

I make my biltong in the dehydrator, set at 100- a very low heat. I do doweors in a more "traditional" manner- but keep the drying room at the right heat and humidity...
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Old 07-26-2020, 11:42 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is offline
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I've seen some various homemades for doing jerky and such. Even one made from a cardboard box, a light socket with low wattage light, and dowel rods. I like Andy's use of the computer fan to keep the air moving.

I had to look up biltong and Dro Wors. The later puts me in mind of the dried sausage a lot of folks and places make here in this part of Texas. Tasty stuff done right. A fellow used to make some really good dried sausage, but he has since passed on.

Appreciate the info. I'll definitely put the dehydrator to use on some real jerky and maybe try the biltong along the way. I like real, strips of meat jerky. The ground up meat version of a fruit rollup just seems wrong.

I also hope to properly dehydrate not only some cooked ground meat, but also some pre cooked meat dishes like chili and maybe some spaghetti. Then store them vacuumed with O2 absorbers. Those I will definitely make sure they are lean and very well dried.

Main usage of course will be be veg and fruits. I came across a video of one of those people who dehydrate a lot that took the large bags of frozen vegetables and reduced them to just over a quart jar's worth of dried product. We have onions dehydrating over at a friends how right now. Better there than here as those things are strong with enough cut up to make a big batch. We already decided the dehydrating will probably done in the workshop. Might was well use it for something other than having a bunch of tools around I rarely use.
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Old 07-27-2020, 12:54 PM
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What are the benefits (if any) over freeze drying? I thought this was the way I wanted to go, but they are surely very expensive. We have the round dehydrator we bought to test the concept. It is not a stellar performer.

Isn't biltong how COVID 19 supposedly got out of Wuhan? Asking for a friend.......
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Old 07-27-2020, 02:03 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is offline
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Originally Posted by fast eddie View Post
What are the benefits (if any) over freeze drying? I thought this was the way I wanted to go, but they are surely very expensive. We have the round dehydrator we bought to test the concept. It is not a stellar performer....
Freeze drying is great, but the equipment is very expensive as you noted. I don't think freeze drying makes for good jerky or dried fruit snacks either.

From what we have seen the rectangular, more open dehydrators tend to work better than the round plastic types. We have a round one someone gave us. Mostly we wanted to do kale chips with it. We're going to give it a try with some other stuff, but like you, we've not been real impressed so far. Our friend's Excalibur does a much better job and handles more stuff.

I've love it if we could afford a freeze dryer and a unit to seal a variety of cans. The metal type. Those too are pricey.
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Old 07-27-2020, 04:37 PM
HarryO45 HarryO45 is offline
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I own a nice stainless steel one I got from BPS or Gander Mtn (about $250). It works great. I got it in storage, because for me, my time is valuable (and it can be messy). I get great results from my Deer Processor, I got lots of game meat. If you want a hobby, it might be fun to make your own. But for me, I will wait to pull mine out of storage when it makes sense for me. I like jerky, but I prefer to keep my stuff fresh.

When you think of how valuable it could be, I am glad I got mine.
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Old 07-27-2020, 04:39 PM
HarryO45 HarryO45 is offline
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Originally Posted by fast eddie View Post
Isn't biltong how COVID 19 supposedly got out of Wuhan? Asking for a friend.......
Yea, that is why I no longer sushi my bat meat.
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Old 07-27-2020, 06:09 PM
wccountryboy wccountryboy is online now
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I liem the South African style products- thanks Andy- primarily because of the thickness of biltong and the liberal use of coriander. Its a flavor that I enjoy....

For sausage making particularly if its going to be air cured, DONT be afraid of nitrates and nitrates. I know its currently trendy to consider these naturally occuring additives to be the spawn of Satan, evil incarnate. Research how tk use them appropriately, and in what quantities- they're miniscule amounts. A full pound of commercial processed salami has LESS of these "chemicals" than a single serving of spinach salad.....

So long as they're used in appropriate ratios, and not fried at 500, they're harmless- far less hazardous than botulism.....
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Old 07-27-2020, 06:41 PM
AverageGuy AverageGuy is offline
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Originally Posted by HarryO45 View Post
I own a nice stainless steel one I got from BPS or Gander Mtn (about $250). It works great. I got it in storage, because for me, my time is valuable (and it can be messy). I get great results from my Deer Processor, I got lots of game meat. If you want a hobby, it might be fun to make your own. But for me, I will wait to pull mine out of storage when it makes sense for me. I like jerky, but I prefer to keep my stuff fresh.

When you think of how valuable it could be, I am glad I got mine.
I figured out a long time ago I could have a big garden and preserve all kinds of things or I could have a job. True living off the grid is a lot more like hardscrabble survival than most realize or want to admit. Now I do things on a much smaller and build up what I can, when I can. I figure something is better than nothing and odds are extremely slim anyway that I will need to survive long term without any kind of outside supplement.
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Old 07-28-2020, 07:02 AM
wccountryboy wccountryboy is online now
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Originally Posted by Amos Iron Wolf View Post
I also hope to properly dehydrate not only some cooked ground meat, but also some pre cooked meat dishes like chili and maybe some spaghetti. Then store them vacuumed with O2 absorbers. Those I will definitely make sure they are lean and very well dried.
Im not sure how well this would work in a dehydrator, you're takingabout very "wet" foods- this seems more the realm of freeze drying....

Another way to get O out of a vacuum bag is to purge it with nitrogen. While I don't do this too often with vacuum sealing, I do with the plastic buckets I use to store dry goods- rice, flour, pasta, beans, etc....
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Old 07-28-2020, 01:34 PM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wccountryboy View Post
Im not sure how well this would work in a dehydrator, you're takingabout very "wet" foods- this seems more the realm of freeze drying....

Another way to get O out of a vacuum bag is to purge it with nitrogen. While I don't do this too often with vacuum sealing, I do with the plastic buckets I use to store dry goods- rice, flour, pasta, beans, etc....
I've seen some where the stuff has been dried to very dry, even brittle. Or in the case of very lean ground beef turned into what some call meat pebbles. In the case of the ground beef it has to be very lean to start. The technique I've seen also requires rinsing after cooking in water to get rid of any fats that are still clinging to the meat.

Overall though I think the best thing for using dehydrators for is vegetables and fruit for long term storage. Either in vacuum/dry can sealed jars or bags with oxygen removed.

I'm retired and the wife is a teacher, so off or the summer. The new school year is shaping up to be "interesting." So I won't have to try to work things into an otherwise occupied schedule. Just have to move my lazy azz to do things. For anyone working though or with full schedules you have to balance costs vs time vs a bunch of other things.

I wish I had the money to just buy cases and crates of stuff along with the climate controlled warehousing for them. I don't and the wife has nightshade allergies which limits a lot of things. Those allergies include tomatoes, potatoes,and any kind of pepper (not black pepper of course).

It is amazing just how much you find paprika and potato starch in processed food. SPAM has potato starch in it. Most all prepared mayonnaise has paprika. Hellman's Real Mayo is the only one we've found without it. Even their olive oil based mayo has paprika. Paprika gets use a lot for coloring apparently. Interestingly enough, the cheap versions of a lot of things don't have it. Brand name, boxed mac and cheese has paprika. One of the local, cheap store brands doesn't.

Clover Valley Luncheon Meat reads like SPAM on the ingredients except it doesn't have potato starch. It still has salt, but is not as salty tasting as SPAM. We prefer it taste wise and it's a little less expensive. So we're slowly building our stock of that.

Which brings up a point that should be obvious, but worth the reminder. If you are building a prepping pantry be very aware of any family member's food allergies and really check the ingredients on all those handy freeze dried or prepared foods you are stocking up on. In my wife's case a lot of the Mountain House freeze dried meals have stuff she can't have.
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Old 07-28-2020, 09:34 PM
scubadad scubadad is offline
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Amos you mentioned the Clover Valley in another post. I picked some up yesterday and tried it this morning. I agree it has a better taste and my dogs agree as well.

Price in my area was $2/can compared to spam at $2.95/can both 12oz. Will get some more.
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Old 07-29-2020, 11:59 AM
Amos Iron Wolf Amos Iron Wolf is offline
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Originally Posted by scubadad View Post
Amos you mentioned the Clover Valley in another post. I picked some up yesterday and tried it this morning. I agree it has a better taste and my dogs agree as well.

Price in my area was $2/can compared to spam at $2.95/can both 12oz. Will get some more.
I used to kind of sneer at DG at one time. We had Walmart and HEB plus two DGs in the next over town where we used to live. Once me made the 32 mile move to our little one stoplight town I got a much better appreciation for them and their store brands. Here we have a little grocery chain, Lowe's which used to be Super S awhile back. Our Dollar General is small, but there are a lot of things we can get there and any slightly higher price is well offset by the cost to make either a 32 mile round trip to one town or a 42 mile round trip to another.

I had someone recommend their Clover Valley coffee. I picked up some K-cups of it to try, but haven't yet. If it tastes good enough we may switch to that. I'll be trying some of their other store brands on items along the way. I like BRCC, but that's more a luxury item for us due to cost.

We've found the DG digital coupons handy with a little planning for getting some good stuff at a real savings. Oh, and the DG, compare to Charmin large rolls TP is good stuff at a savings. So yeah, I've gone from turning my nose up at DG to appreciating them a lot more.

A little DG humor. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DIqC5y1zm-4
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