Any Dehydrator Experts Here?

Discussion in 'General Food and Foraging Discussion' started by Dove150, Aug 6, 2011.

  1. Dove150

    Dove150 Well-Known Member

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    I have an Excalibur 9 tray dehydrator. I got it mainly because so many on forums like this were saying how good they are. I needed to get serious about my preps so I sucked it up and bought one.

    I must say that I've had limited success with it. Either I'm not doing it right or that's just the nature of dehydrated food.

    Frozen vegetables and dehydrated rice are the best so far, and collard greens out of the garden. When it comes to fruit I'm downright scared to eat it. I leave it going for days and it's still sticky.

    I can't ever get cauliflower, broccoli and squash, to name a few, to rehydrate correctly. I don't care how long I cook them they seem tough. What am I doing wrong?
     
  2. crazychickenlady

    crazychickenlady Well-Known Member

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    Hmmm, are you cutting the fruit into slices or smallish pieces? Personally, I have never cared too much for the dehydrated veggies. When I have a lot I still do a few for emergency preps, but mostly I either freeze or can them. So it may be that the veggies are coming out the way they should. Try soaking them in water for a while before cooking/using them.

    I don't have that type of food dehydrator, so I'm not sure what other advice to give. I use a smaller one that is called a Harvest Master, I think. It has adjustable heat settings, which can help shorten the time to dry.

    In general, my fruit is done in 1 or 2 days. I slice everything thin, or pierce the skin on small berries, like blueberries. Cherries are cut in half.

    Good luck on your next try!
     

  3. neldarez

    neldarez Supporting Member

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    Hi there Dove, I have 2 of the excalibur 9s. I just love it. Never dried rice..hmmm....but I've dried many veggies.......when you did your broccoli did you blanch it first? I haven't done cauliflower or squash...........green pepper, broccoli, carrots,celery, just let plump up in some water......I just throw it into whatever I'm cooking and it pops back up. I'm sure you put the heat setting in the right place for veggies..........as for fruit, I only do apples and pineapple..........much of the fruit is suppose to be leathery when done, I just don't like dried leathery fruit.........I dry my apples until they are crisp. You are following the directions in the booklet that came with it I'm sure........I'm drying green beans tonight, after they are blanched for 3 minutes.....You can always call the company and talk to them but I've had great luck, I just do what the book says.... good luck, you truly have bought an exceptional dryer........:congrat:
     
  4. Idaholady

    Idaholady Member

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    I just got the same brand deydrator and it came with a nice instructional booklet. Perhaps you're thinking the food will be exactly like you get in the store after you re-hydrated it....some food requires more soaking in water than others to re-hydrate...

    I dried Kale, parsley and basil in mine so far. I've also been drying a lot of mullein for teas since I have asthma and heard it was good for me.

    This is my 'experimental' year on drying things....have fun with yours.
     
  5. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

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    I've NEVER had fruit take that long to dry. My dehydrator is a round one; American Harvester maybe? It has a temp gauge on it. For fruit, I cut it in 1/4" thick slices and set it at 125°. Peaches and pears take about 12 hours. Apples about 8. If the humidity in the house is high, it will extend the drying time.

    Potatoes, zucchini and cukes, cut the same way, go in at 135° and come out in 7-8 hours.

    Fruit should be pliable so a bit of "sticky"isn't necessarily a bad thing. You can test it by putting it in a baggie after it has cooled a bit. Seal the bag and let it sit on the counter overnight. If you get condensation on the inside of the bag, it's not dry enough.

    Veggies should be brittle. If a potato slice bends it's not dry enough.
     
  6. Dove150

    Dove150 Well-Known Member

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    Most of the vegetables I have dried are store bought bags of frozen. For fresh veggies I do blanch them except for collard greens. BTW the collards are excellent. I put them in mylar bags with 02 absorbers, they store like a bag of potato chips.

    I also cook rice and then dehydrate it, that makes minute rice which is great. All you have to do with the rice is add however much you want to hot water or broth and it's ready.

    Fresh fruit seems to be my downfall more than the veggies. I did a half a bushel of peaches and I could never get them past sticky. I put them in mason jars with o2, but I'm scared of them.

    Sliced potatoes do well but cut up in chunks for stew never do right for me.

    I'm not going to give up, but I was wondering if it is just me?

    As far as the Excalibur goes overall I'd say there is more right with it than there is wrong, but I have had my losses. It just seems the time for the learning curve is getting smaller by the day.
    Thanks ya'll.
     
  7. neldarez

    neldarez Supporting Member

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    It's good that you've had some successes..........maybe it's just as simple as cutting the pieces smaller............the sweeter the fruit the stickier it will be..........Keep on going, your doing great..
     
  8. Dove150

    Dove150 Well-Known Member

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    "......the sweeter the fruit the stickier it will be....."

    Is it still good though, or is that something I should use first?
     
  9. Emerald

    Emerald Well-Known Member

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    The dryer fruit gets the sticker is good-sugar is a great medium for "not" growing molds. the sugar in fruits is also why most fruits don't dry rock hard but soft and pliable.
    If you are worried just freeze your dried fruits in small batches.... for now... won't work so much when there is no power.

    and one thing I find from many, many, many folks is that they complain that their home dried stuff is not like the store bought-well most of the store bought stuff isn't just dried/dehydrated--- It is freeze dried. That is a whole nother critter. Unless you have tens of thousands of dollars to squander-freeze drying at home just isn't gonna happen..
    Freeze drying gives foods a much different texture than dehydrating. it is said that it also retains more vitamins and minerals etc...
    The way things are pre-processed before loading them into the dehydrator makes a huge difference on end quality... Mary bell has several good books out on home dehydrating and how to prepare your veggies/fruits for drying and how to store them.

    But my favorite thing to dry is still potatoes and jerky.
     
  10. becky3086

    becky3086 Active Member

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    I like drying packages of mushrooms that I find on sale. We also like bananas and zucchini. We use them both as snacks. The zucchini is dipped in Ranch dressing and is wonderful.
     
  11. mmszbi

    mmszbi Junior Member

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    If you are concerned about the stickiness or moisture of dried fruits, make fruit leather instead. Take several different fruits and make a puree, spread thin (on wax paper)and dehydrate. As the storebought stuff is, it will be kinda sticky, so you are really not doing anything incorrectly.
    Wife and I have dried tons of taters, we think they are the best best for long term storage and nutritional value. After drying we store in mason jars using the jar sealer on our foodsaver. This year in the garden we are growing our own herbs and the dehydrator is about to get a workout!
     
  12. Emerald

    Emerald Well-Known Member

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    Just a hint on herbs-dry them at the very lowest temp your machine has.. they will retain better flavor.
    The only one that doesn't do that well for me was basil-I had to turn the temp up a tad and take all the leaves off the stems. If doing sage-dry about 10 times what you think you will need as when I grind it down for stuffing it really grinds into much less than you think!
     
  13. Deborah2

    Deborah2 New Member

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    I can't say, for sure, but your problem is like what I encountered with my first batches of fruit. This problem is called "case hardening". The temperature is too high for too long. The outside gets too dry and the inside never dries well. The result is sticky fruit. The solution is to set the temp. as directed and leave it there for about one hour. Then lower the temperature about five or ten degrees for the rest of the drying cycle. Sweet, fleshy fruit will take a very long time to dry. Maybe several days when the humidity is high. Please post if this solves the problem. It would be interesting to hear if thishas been of any help. Goodluck.
     
  14. boomer

    boomer Well-Known Member

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    I dry herbs, mushrooms, onions, apples, paste tomatoes, peepers, carrots, & potatoes primarily. I blanch the potatoes first but not the rest. They work well in stews, salsas, soups, sauces. I generally like the results and do not dry more because I run out of prepping time.

    When I am using a lot of dried foods I tend to migrate towards different recipes than I would if using fresh or frozen.
     
  15. goshengirl

    goshengirl Supporting Member

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    Don't they all - it's a SHOCKER! lol I have my little jars (and I do mean 'little') of dried herbs on the shelf, and it's amazing to know how much plant material is in there!
     
  16. Emerald

    Emerald Well-Known Member

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    I know! And what they charge for those tiny bottles in the store! I have been buying it in the big bulk containers at the restaurant supply. For only about the cost of two small bottles of grocery store herbs and spices I can get the amount of about 6 or 8 bottles worth. I often fill only a small glass bottle and then vac-pack the rest into a big mason jar. Stored in the dark and cool they last for quite a while. But there are some that I need to start growing more of myself as we go thru one of those big containers of a year.
    Also I can highly recommend buying whole spices and grate them only when you need them.. I still have three whole nutmegs left from O4(stored in glass) that still taste as yummy when I grate them into things as when I first got them.. You can't believe how yummy cinnamon is when you powder or grate it fresh each time. Even the cheap cinnamon sticks that they sell in the dollar stores/save a lot at the holidays. Whole allspice and whole seeds of many spices are better when you toast them in a dry pan for a few seconds before grinding.. brings out the oils.
    Black peppercorns seem to really last well vac-packed in mason jars too. Makes me realize that we just opened the last one I had from 3 years ago when I got them on sale in the big containers for $3 each.. we bought 3 of them and had members of the family give us such crap over it.. Said that we would never go thru it like that.. But now I am wishing that I had 3 more containers bought back then as it is about 6 times that price for the same container.

    Okay -back to dehydrator talk..:eek: