I have been thinking about dehydrating foods more and more these days, especially after seeing a dehydrator at Bed, Bath & Beyond. I forget the price- maybe it was around $60 for a stackable, white, circular unit? Anyway, what machines/ brands do you guys like & use? Is using the oven better? Thanks for any advice, opinons and other comments.
Buying a dehydrator
I've had one of those circular ones with the stacking trays. Finally bought a 9-tray Excalibur which is far more efficient on electrical usage, and holds more for bumper crops I dehydrate.
Hey, thanks Darius. I'll look around for one of those on the net.
They are pricey, but if you are not sure you want to do a lot of dehydrating, start with a cheapie one...
I bought a round one NIB including directions at a garage sale for $8. I have nothing to compare it to but use it to dry herbs and find it works quickly. Would love an Excalibur but it is not in my financial realm right now.
pod, I picked up a new-looking round one at a yard sale last summer, just to have the trays. They are great for draining curds and then molds when I make cheese. My Excalibur is several years old, couldn't afford one now!
I have one of those sheds in the back yard, you know the one thats 100 degrees in summer I put my veggys in the shed on a screen with a small fan and I can dry anything in just a few days
One can use a car sitting in the summer sun too. Out of the sun in the trunk or in the sun using the back window. Works great and if you dry herbs the car smells wonderful. LOL
Darius ~ the Excalibur would be a wonderful investment and I'm sure yours has more than paid for itself. I watched their site for a few years. Sometimes they will offer factory reconditioned or cosmetic damaged dryers at a decent price. Just never could commit to it. Maybe if I use this round one enough to feel justified in stepping up but for now... not. Kristi
I have a Nesco Gardenmaster. It's round and may not be quite as efficient as the Excalibur, but it was less expensive, too. I had bought a dehydrator from Pinetree Garden Seeds first and it didn't work well at all (it dried very unevenly), so I returned it and got the Nesco instead. It made a big difference and I'm really pleased with it. I keep it down the basement because it's not the quietest appliance, but when you're drying something like pears or strawberries and you open the basement door it smells like heaven.
I just lucked out and purchased a Nesco 700w dehydrator with 7 trays off CL for a bargain (less than $20.00) . My first attempt was lemons, didn't do well but I'm sure I've done something wrong. I purchased and am in the process of reading Mary Bell's Dehydration Cookbook.
Does anyone have tips for trying in humid climates? Houston gets very humid this time of year.
It's humid here, too. After I dehydrate things I usually stick them in the freezer just so they won't reabsorb moisture. A how-to book should give you tips on dealing with humidity; maybe you'd need to up the temperature a little more than usual.
I've ordered Oxygen Absorbers which should take care of after it's dried but I'd love to know time frames for drying in humidity. Today was great as it was only around 75% but as it gets more into the summer we will be looking at much higher humidity.
I have grapes in atm which I checked and slit (not in half but rather top to bottom on one side) the instructions say 6-10 hours if they have been blanched..lol no way it's gonna happen in that time frame. I started at around 145 for the first few hours and then dropped it back down to the 135 temp called for.
I think you'll be able to tell when they're done. They should be pliable but not hard. And I really don't know that humidity is going to make that much difference because the dehydrator will have its own microclimate within the device.
Araness, did you purchase it new or used? Is it possible something is not working correctly?
no, it's working fine, on this model if it's on and blowing hot hair, which it is then it's working. Humidity plays a very large part in how it dries and the time it takes, the principle behind the dehydration unit is that it pulls air in, heats it and circulates it. If it's pulling moist air it will take longer.
Knowing a range would make it easier, lets say something takes 16 hours and I don't start it until 10:00 in the morning, I either need to stay late or plan accordingly. In the climate here re-hydration will cause spoilage pretty quickly, which kinda defeats the purpose. As to being able to tell when it's done it's tricky at times. The limes I dehydrated looked dry, felt dry (not sticky) and had the hollow sound with dropped but yet when I put them in the foodsaver bag moisture (a pretty noticeable amount) was drawn out so now those have to be kept in the freezer.
Are you running it outdoors or in the air conditioning? A/C tends to remove a large percentage of the humidity. Just curious.
When I've dried (different type of dehydrator), I place the dried items in a sealed container or baggie and let it sit for a couple of hours. It moisture accumulates, I will run it longer of course.
I've never seen drying tables that factor in humidity but hope if you find that information, you will post here for us. Kristi
Monday I'm going to try our local extension office and see what they have. My A/C does pull a huge amount but we stuck one of those humidity packs in our bedroom "just to see" and OMG at the moisture still in the air..lol Gotta love living on the Gulf.