Drying tips

Discussion in 'General Food and Foraging Discussion' started by 41south, Dec 19, 2010.

  1. 41south

    41south Well-Known Member

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    Can someone post some dehydration tips for foods? I aint got a clue about it, but think I might enjoy doing some this Summer.
     
  2. Emerald

    Emerald Well-Known Member

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    What are you looking to dry next summer? Different veggies and fruits have different things that have to be done to them to get them to dry and retain good color and nutrition.
    But I do know many of them so if you put up what you plan to plant and/ or dry I can usually help.
    Also are you using an electric dehydrator or a solar one?
     

  3. 41south

    41south Well-Known Member

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    Emerald, that is part of my question, what does dry good and which means is best to do it? I grow everything except cucumbers, I imagine I could build a solar drying unit pretty quick, and cheap.

    Like I said, I ain't got a clue.

    Thank you
     
  4. Emerald

    Emerald Well-Known Member

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    Well things with a high sugar content usually don't need any other prep other than just slice and dry(sometimes a bit of acid{citric, lemon juice, a touch of vinegar} to help them not turn color).
    Things that don't need anything added are
    Tomatoes, sweet and hot peppers, onions, strawberries, oranges, lemons, limes, cherries, blueberries.
    Things that work best with a bit of acid-apples, bananas, peaches, pears, apricots, avocados. Usually if a fruit will turn brown, it can use a bit of an acid wash/dip or even a acid dip with some sugar added as sugar does inhibit bacteria from growing.
    Now quite a few veggies do much better with a light blanch before drying do make the enzymes "stop working" like green beans, asparagus, potatoes(I do use a touch of acid as potatoes can turn a nasty black if not blanched well) peas, carrots do best if almost cooked thru but not too mushy, parsnips as just like carrots.
    There are exceptions to some of these but we can always revisit each veggie or fruit as we get to them.
    One thing that I have found that I really like doing is when I have left over spaghetti sauce or pizza sauce I pour it into my fruit leather trays and dry it crispy and then powder it and it can be used like bullion powders or even on your hot buttered popcorn.
    One author pops right to mind when I think about books at the library--Mary Bell- she had several books on drying and I think the one I like the best is "drying with an attitude"..
    Many of the veggies that need blanching before freezing do well blanching before drying. I use my big pot with the steamer insert and steam most of my foods that go to the freezer and the dehydrator as it works a bit better for me than the dumping them into the boiling water method.
    You think of some questions and I'll see how well I can answer them!
    I am also collecting stuff to make an Appalachian type solar dehydrator.. if you google it you will see what I am looking to make. It is mainly a solar collector type box that is hooked to a bigger box that holds the trays of foods. If you live in hotter dryer conditions like in the southwest, you can get away with a screen door with cheese cloth to keep the bugs out.
    I know that I am not the only dehydrator here on the forum so I am sure that when the others get in here they will be able to had tons more info!
     
    Last edited: Dec 19, 2010
  5. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

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    Here are a couple threads you could look at.

    http://www.preparedsociety.com/forum/f36/home-made-de-hydrators-879/

    http://www.preparedsociety.com/forum/f36/i-suck-dehydrating-1142/

    Here is the dehydrator that many people swear by. Too rich for my blood.

    Commercial Food Dehydrators - Complete range of Excalibur Food Dehydrators, Food & Fruit Dryers and Dehydration accessories

    We have 2 of these and they've worked well for us for 3 seasons.

    Open Country Campware® - Buy Online!

    And I pulled this from an old thread.


    Quote:
    EGGS, DEHYDRATED
    Submitted Via. E-mail by Debi

    Hi. You can also dehydrate eggs. I have for the past several years and they work just fine. Break eggs into a bowl or blender and blend whites and yolks together, like you would make scrambled eggs. (Do not add milk ) Pour onto a LIGHTLY greased dehydrator leather tray and dry at 145* for 4 hours then lower the temperature until the lethicin is dry and brittle. Return to blender and blend to granulate. Store in airtight container (vacuumed sealed bags, e.g.). To reconstitute: 1 TBSP egg powder to 2.5 TBSP water. Just add to recipe.
    Quote:
    I dehydrate eggs with a Mr. Coffee dehydrator. I do 6 at a time, and use the fruit roll sheet on the top tray. I beat the eggs as if I were going to make an omlette, then freeze them in a glass jar in the freezer overnight.
    When I'm ready to dry them, I let them thaw, but not warm to room temp. Freezing seems to speed up the process a little. After about 18 hours of drying, they're dry and brittle. I powder them with an old coffee grinder, but a blender or food processor will work just as well. The egg powder goes into ziplock baggies, and in the cupboard.

    I've used eggs that I've dehydrated this way for omlettes and cooking, with no problems. To rehydrate for use, I mix two measures of water for each measure of powder.

    I have some eggs that were dehyrated over 5 years ago, and stored in the cupboard in a ziplock bag, that are still good to use.
    Quote:
    Carla Emery, in her book Encyclopedia of Country Living, tells of dehydrating eggs by this method: “Beat very fresh whole eggs thoroughly (use an egg beater or the equivalent). Pour beaten eggs to make a very thin layer (maximum 1/8") on drying surfaces that have been precoated with plastic or foil. In an oven or dryer, dry at about 120 degrees for 24-36 hours. When the egg layer is dry on top and firm all through, peel away the plastic or foil layer, turn the egg layer upside down and dry that side 12-24 hours more. Then break it up and dry it a few more hours. Then turn your dried egg into a powder using a mortar and pestle or a blender. These eggs work fine in baked goods. Make scrambled eggs by combining the powder with an equal amount of water, such as 1/4 c dried egg powder with 1/4 c. water.”
     
  6. goshengirl

    goshengirl Supporting Member

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    Love the egg info - thanks!

    Emerald, how do you do your potatoes? Slice 'em?
    I'm looking to dry potato slices, and have a food processor disk for thin slices. Also have a dehydrator and acid dip. Just not sure what order to do the slicing, blanching, dipping - and how long to blanch. And if you do something other than slices, I'd like to learn about that, too. Just getting into this.... ;)
     
  7. Emerald

    Emerald Well-Known Member

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    At the moment I have only done hash brown shreds and I dried a few trays of potatoes that I put thru my ricer.
    What I do is peel them and put the whole potato in a bowl of water with just a shot of vinegar to to keep them from turning color while I peel the rest and then I have my pot of water going so it is nice and hot and have the steamer insert(looks like a colander with a couple handles to take it out of the pot with) in it- When the steam is going really good I then start shredding the potatoes till I get a bowl full that fits in the steamer and I do rinse the potatoes just a bit to remove some of the starch as I have done them with the starch and they stick to one another in the dehydrator. Then I steam them for about 5 minutes or till they are done, but not too done, if they fall apart then they are too done.
    Then they go right to the fruit leather trays(just plastic inserts that I have for my dehydrator) and onto the machine and then I start the next batch of shreds-I have shredded them all at once before and my arm gets tired and they tend to change color even with the acidic water bath, so now I just do them one steamer full at a time.
    They get dried at the highest heat on my machine which is 145°F and they will dry crispy hard in about 8 or so hours but I tend to be lazy and leave them in overnight and just take them out in the morning and put them in mason jars.
    Now when I riced the potatoes I had made baked potatoes for dinner and cooked too many so I just cut the potato in half with the skin on and pushed it thru the potato ricer and I try not to get them too clumpy on the fruit leather trays and they dry down to little tiny granules that go great in soups and other potato dishes- I did try them like instant mashed potatoes and while they tasted great they are not creamy like the store bought types but I wonder if I would have gotten the mixer out and mixed them a bit with some cream/milk they might have been more like mashed.
    I want to do slices but I only have a small machine and the slices do take up quite a bit of room. but you would cook/steam them the same and then dry.
    I am thinking maybe some of the little potato cubes like they have in the freezer section for making home fries too... Just ran out of potatoes and time so far, but they have a good sale on taters I will probably try some more.
    I normally would have ended up with potatoes growing or rotting as we could never get them eaten up but now when I get to about half the bag I just process them and dry them up and we have been using the "instant" hash browns quite a bit.
    To use them I just take out a couple handfuls of the dry shreds and pour boiling water over them and let them sit for about 15 to 20 minutes while I get the rest of the stuff ready for breakfast. Then I pour off the water and dry them a bit in my strainer and then just fry them up! Very simple and pretty quick.
     
  8. goshengirl

    goshengirl Supporting Member

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    Thanks, Emerald. I really appreciate the details. I hadn't thought of shredding, but that sounds great, too. We're big fans of au gratin potatoes, but I see your point about slices taking up a lot of room.

    We're planning on a LOT of potatoes in the ground next summer, so I'm working on developing some storing skills. :)

    I've also heard of people making tomato leathers, then turning them into powders for storage, then rehydrating the powder when they need tomato sauce. Something to try, too...
     
  9. UncleJoe

    UncleJoe Well-Known Member

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    I have some tomato leathers. I add it to my sauce when I need to thicken it up a bit.
     
  10. 41south

    41south Well-Known Member

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    What about drying yellow and white squash? Or any squash other than butternut and acorn, and zucchini I store them in cellar.

    I love it, but only so much room in freezers for it.
     
  11. Emerald

    Emerald Well-Known Member

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    The summer type squashes don't need to be steamed or anything just either sliced or shredded or cubed and put right in the dehydrator.
    But with the big winter squashes I found that I liked the taste better if I roasted them or steamed them and then dried them.. I did little cubes and I also pureed some and made squash leather--I liked the leather just a bit more than the cubes but I ended up just mashing them once I re-hydrated them and cooked them anyway.. lol
    Oh and baked winter squash with just a bit of sweetener and pumpkin pie spices and pureed and dried into leather tastes great just as a snack.
     
  12. AnimalcrackerHerder

    AnimalcrackerHerder Active Member

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    (Home made dried dog treats.)

    We buy beef liver, cut it into small cubes and dry it in the oven on a screen over a cookie sheet. We buy Hormone Free so we know exactly what is in their treats. Our dogs just go nuts for them! Set the oven as low as it will go. Leave the oven door open about four inches. Leave them in until they are dry all the way through.

    The reason you leave the door open is because you want the treat to dry, not bake. Leaving the door open 3 to 4 inches allows the moisture to draw out of the oven with the escaping heat leaving the treat dry. A dry treat is firm and chewy. If the treat bakes it will retain the moisture and be soft. The moisture in the treat will allow it to fall apart after just a couple of days, especially if you are trying to carry them in a treat bag or in your pocket.

    The screen we use is the topper you buy to put on a 10 gallon fish tank if you were going to keep a lizard, rat, or some other type of animal in the tank. It fits over a cookie sheet nicely. The cookie sheet catches the drippings and keeps them from messing up your oven. We use both oven racks and do two batches at a time.

    They last for weeks. I show my Mastiff and the batch we made in May lasted through the big show in August. You don't need to keep them refrigerated either. Since they are dry they do not deteriorate. We do the same thing with beef heart also, but they are greasy so we only use them for training. They last just as long as the liver though.

    I haven't tried it yet but i am thinking a guy could do the same thing with stew meat to take hiking or camping. It would also last quite a while in a persons preps.
     
  13. 41south

    41south Well-Known Member

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    Now I know what to do with the liver from the beef we just killed, I have tried to give it to everyone around here.

    Only thing I knew to do with it is catfish bait. You put liver in a jar with holes punched in the lid, let set in sun for two to three days, then put in river, wait two days, then fish the hole using the same rotting liver on hooks.
     
  14. AnimalcrackerHerder

    AnimalcrackerHerder Active Member

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    One thing I forgot to add in my post above is that if you partially freeze the liver it is much easier to cut up.

    Also, thanks for the fish bait tip.:thumbraise:
     
  15. BasecampUSA

    BasecampUSA Sr. Homesteader

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    Solar dehydrator

    Last summer we built this large scale unit at the homestead to dehydrate our crops:

    [ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ilcMzaUgixU]YouTube - SolarFlex Food Dryer and Solar Heater[/ame]

    ...but we used 3 recycled upright freezers with racks for the drying compartments.

    Works great, uses pennies a day to run the squirrel-cage blower that moves air through the units.

    - Basey
     
  16. Emerald

    Emerald Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the link! That is quite a set up!:D Almost what I want to make but for sure I am going to make one a bit smaller and easier for me to move and use. I plan on making the solar collector part detachable so that in the winter I can attach it to my kitchen window(only one with a good clear shot to winter sunshine) so that on sunny days all I have to do is open the window and let the heat in--I know that we are far north but on sunny days you can feel the warmth of the sun and the kitchen does warm up a bit.
    And the cheap-o, ahem..Cough, cough- I mean frugal side of me is going to make the box for the trays to use my current drying trays as I have over 20 of them with all the leather trays and mesh liners and other stuff..
    We have about 6 solar path lights that I don't have batteries for and several little computer fans (used to fix electronics for a living but now stuff is throw away and buy more crap) to hook up and help regulate the airflow.
    Here tho I do know that I will have to put screening on the inside for any air vents and fan holes as every time I put my dehydrator outside to keep the heat out of the house it attracts wasps and flies and I cover it with fine bridal veiling.
     
  17. BasecampUSA

    BasecampUSA Sr. Homesteader

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    The glass and frames we used was recycled from old double-pane sliding glass patio doors, the flat-black painted collector plate is recycled corrugated roof tin. We bought the flexible aluminum pipe at a scrap yard cheap. The squirrel-cage blower came out of an old mobile home furnace. An appliance repair/dealer was glad to get rid of the 3 old upright freezers. The whole shebang didn't cost much more than $150 in other costs. We have no biomass boiler as shown, but hooked up an old hot-air wood furnace that is thermostatically controlled for 85+/- degrees.

    We will use it in winter to help heat the big galv. steel garage we just built.

    Our solar house is way too hot for additional heat in winter when the sun shines regularly, at noon you are already sweating in a teeshirt even when it is 5 below outside! http://www.preparedsociety.com/forum/f43/maine-iac-4985/



    - Basey