Beginner food dehydrator question

Posted by: Hikeupmypants

Beginner food dehydrator question - 06/23/10 08:53 AM

So I just got my food dehydrator. Tonight I made chorizo sausage and chicken with green peppers and onions on the skillet. Now I throw it all in the dehydrator, let it sit till its all dried out, and then throw it in a ziploc freezer bag and my meal is all set? Is it that easy? And then on the trail I just add water to rehydrate it, and viola instant backpacking meal!?
Posted by: Pika

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 06/23/10 09:08 AM

Most of the chorizo with which I am familiar is pretty fatty. Fat can turn rancid in a few weeks and gives the dinner sort of an off flavor. I would do two things. First, I would cook the chorizo separately from the rest of the stuff and then, before I put in in the dinner, I would blot up as much of the fat as possible. People who dehydrate cooked hamburger frequently rinse it in hot water before drying to get rid of the extra fat. Second, I would try the chorizo/chicken mix at home before I used it on the trail. Cook it as if you were on the trail. Sometimes home-dried chicken is harder to rehydrate than gravel. Personally, I purchase bulk freeze-dried beef, turkey and chicken for most of my home-made trail meals. In my experience it re-hydrates much more reliably than does home dried meat.
Posted by: OregonMouse

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 06/23/10 10:20 AM

Maybe, maybe not. Always try out every dish at home, first! You don't want to find out something didn't work when you're out on the trail!

Chunks of chicken have a tendency to become chicken jerky when dehydrated. It's recommended to use pressure-cooked or canned chicken for dehydrating.

I share Pika's concern about the fat. If your dish (which sounds yummy, by the way) works out, store it in the freezer and use it the first day of a trip. Next time, use low-fat meat and remove as much fat as possible. You can use seasonings to get the chorizo flavor. I still use the freezer to store anything that has meat in it.

Veggies need to be sliced very, very thin. Home dehydrated peas and corn have a tendency to retain a buckshot-like consistency. Except for a few things like spinach, I've given up dehydrating veggies and use the "Just Tomatoes" brand freeze-dried vegetables.

Lots of ideas on dehydrating backpacking meals on Sarbar's website.

EDIT, later: Please let us know how the chicken/chorizo came out after dehydrating and rehydrating!
Posted by: Haiwee

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 06/24/10 11:02 AM

I've dehydrated chorizo several times with good results. Blot out as much of the fat as possible with paper towels and keep it frozen until you head to the trail head. It will keep for five days or so without turning rancid if you keep it out of the sun. To rehydrate I soak it in water for half an hour or so and heat, then let it sit in my cozy for five or ten minutes. Yummy!

I agree with the others on chicken; tends to become jerky. I've found ground meats rehydrate better. I've done ground turkey (kind of tasteless to me), ground pork (better), lots of ground beef (good) and ground buffalo (actually bison, and lots better than beef). I've stopped worrying so much about the meat turning rancid. I've had unfrozen dehydrated ground beef last as long as three weeks without going bad -- just my two cents.
Posted by: lori

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 06/24/10 11:09 AM

It's not that easy. Measure the dish and place it into the dehydrator portioned into serving sizes you would like, and when you are done drying, note the difference - if you put a cup of chili on the tray, you'll probably have to rehydrate it with a cup of water to get it back without being soupy.

chorizo has a ton of fat. I would freeze a piece of chorizo to make it last on the trail for a while, make the dish without it but with some canned chicken, and dehydrate, and add the meat in camp. Make it a first or second day meal. I've done hamburger based meals by cooking, draining, rinsing and otherwise reducing the amount of fat as much as possible before dehydrating it, then cooking to reheat/rehydrate faster.

Any homemade meat dish needs to be used within a few weeks/months of dehydrating it. Fat can go rancid.
Posted by: Pat-trick

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 10/02/10 12:28 PM

Originally Posted By OregonMouse
Chunks of chicken have a tendency to become chicken jerky when dehydrated. ... Veggies need to be sliced very, very thin. Home dehydrated peas and corn have a tendency to retain a buckshot-like consistency.

I made some corn chowder last night, and just now added some sliced turkey sandwich meat while heating up leftovers for lunch. Got the idea, hey, how about slicing up the chicken or turkey, deer or beef, in thin slices in some dishes. Maybe the meat would come out better when rehydrated if it is sliced thin in the dish when cooked. Or maybe slice it thin and dehydrate it by itself, then add it to the dish out on the trail?

Does anyone know of a good dehydrator? Now that I have some money, I'm going to buy one and make my own meals.
Posted by: CamperMom

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 10/02/10 02:27 PM


I have an Excalibur, the Cadillac version of home dehydrators. You may find a deal on eBay, as I did. Many people like the Nesco/American Harvbet sold at walmart. If you can afford and find a dehydrator with a variable temperature control and a fan, get it. Two of Excalibur's best features are the fan in the back of the unit, so that all the trays have good ariflow across them and the variable temperature control. There is a model with a timer for more money, but one could use a timer that plugs into the outlet easily enough and save those $$ for something else.

Posted by: Roocketman

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 10/02/10 06:51 PM

If I had had the money, at the time, and the knowledge such as CamperMom above, I would have gone for the Excaliber right off the bat.

I have gotten a lot of good use from my American Harvester, but have wanted more capacity many times when I began to plan for one and two month backpack trips rather than one week bike trips.
Posted by: sarbar

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 10/09/10 07:11 PM

I have both a Nesco American Harvester one and also a LEqip one as well. Both work well, the Nesco's tend to be the cheapest good ones.
Posted by: Frankendude

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 10/11/10 11:41 AM

I've had great success with the excalibur 3926T. Great product. You have to work up recipes though. Fruit is easy to dehydrate but after 3 days of it I would have killed for fresh anything. Make sure that what you take is something you like!!
Posted by: RobJT

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 11/10/10 12:38 PM

I dehydrate mostly vegetables, pasta and rice...then add the packaged meat when I'm on the trail. I'd love to hear some of your favorite resources on the web though!
Posted by: CJJ

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 11/11/10 04:39 PM

I also have the Excalibur (9 tray) and love it! I'm currently dehydrating a jar of spaghetti sauce for our next trip... like tomato's, i'm going to dry it till crispy then powder it in the food processor... its amazing how well that works!

I would highly recommend dehydrating your veggies/fruits before adding everything together. Also, rehydrate your food before you add salt, it will rehydrate faster.

Other things like rice dehydrate nice as well... cook it + dehydrate it = healthy instant rice!

Posted by: NorthTxHillbilly

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 11/12/10 12:02 AM

Anyone ever use the old "Ronco" dehydrator?
Posted by: DTape

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 11/12/10 05:20 PM

Originally Posted By NorthTxHillbilly
Anyone ever use the old "Ronco" dehydrator?

I borrowed my sisters when i first wanted to try it. While it worked for some things, it took "forever". Cleaning it was a pain. I wouldn't accept one if it was gifted to me. Whatever brand you get, make sure it has a fan. That makes all the difference.
Posted by: CamperMom

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 11/12/10 07:40 PM

Yes. Hubby bought a Ronco dehydrator for me, thinking it would be a nice surprise. It was one of the ones that I burned out. Try to get a dehydrator with a fan and maybe a temp control. These make a huge difference in the quality of your dehydrated product.

Posted by: CamperMom

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 11/12/10 07:46 PM

This is salty and sounds a bit nutty, BUT---

Try saving some of your dehydrated spaghetti sauce to eat as a leather. It can be an interesting and quick lunch if you layer or alternate bites with pepperoni and string cheese sticks. Or, take a pilot cracker and layer on sauce leather, pepperoni, and a slice of provolone or mozarella. If you have freeze-dried mushrooms and dehydrated olives, rehydrate those ahead of lunch to add. Zucchini chips are also good with this. You could have the dehydrated veggies ready and pick up the pepperoni and cheese along the way to reduce your pack weight at the beginning of your hike. Most gas stations and convenience stores have meat and cheese sticks, but not much for lightweight veggies beyond mashed potatoes or chips.
Posted by: Dryer

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 11/13/10 09:19 AM

Mine looks exactly like the Ronco version. It's an American Harvest from Walmart. It works great...maybe a little too hot.
I went back to using our oven. With the door cracked open about an inch, and the temp set to the lowest setting (about 160deg), it will hold more stuff, and does a very good job.
Posted by: Floridatiger

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 12/06/10 02:14 PM

I would make the dish without the chorizo and add a "hard" chorizo link to your food bag. When rehydrating, you can cut chorizo chunks into your pan or mug. The flavor won't be quite the same, but will still be good.
Posted by: GDeadphans

Re: Beginner food dehydrator question - 12/20/10 08:52 PM

Hey buddy was just wondering how your chorizo meal came out! Did i turn rancid or was it just as delicious as it smelled!