looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator

Posted by: ajherman

looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 08/03/08 12:00 PM

I am going to start making food for our AT hike next year and have a bumper crop of cherries and some other fruits that need to be used. I am going to buy from amazon because i have a gift card and would like to keep it cheap, around 35 dollars if possible. there are a few options i have found and am wondering which brands and types work best. thanks.

i will consider building my own also. seems like this could be a very cheap option.
Posted by: Dryer

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 08/03/08 12:13 PM

For years I used my electric oven. Set on the lowest possible temp. and propped the door open with a boomstick (or about an inch) for ventilation. Placed the food on the racks or on cookie sheets. Worked fine.
Later I bought a dehydrator from WalMart that works well. It's actually too hot. I like then results from the oven better. Cost was about $30.
Posted by: CamperMom

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 08/03/08 02:24 PM

Try joining this free Yahoo group for a lot of great help and ideas.

<http://groups.yahoo.com/group/preserving-food>

When I had time to participate, the two favorites were the (Cadillac variety) Excalibur and a model from Walmart, maybe the American Harvest. Two important features for quality results are heat control and a fan. The Excalibur models have both, while some also feature timers. The Excaliburs also have fans that blow across the food from the back, so the need to turn or rotate food is greatly diminished.

I burned out several cheap models before biting the bullet and buying an Excalibur through e-Bay. I have had no regrets over having spent the extra bucks to buy the Excalibur. You might want to try to get a used one from either Amazon or eBay. You could always use the Amazon certificate for recipe books, trail guides,maps, etc., if you don't find the dehydrator you want there.

If you have the time to fiddle with building even a make-shift dehydrator, make sure that you can control the heat. You will need a vented box of some sort and a heat source. In a pinch, I've propped my microwave open and used my hair dryer on low for heat ahd air movement. That isn't too efficeint and is very noisy. You might want to look on-line for plans. I saw someyears ago that used lightbulbs, and oven thermometer, and a "muffin fan."

Meats need to be dehydrated at a higher heat than fruits and vegetables. That Yahoo group may have some charts in the member files that can help with guidelines.

Another thing you may wish to consider for purchase is a vacuum-sealer. I like to vacuum dehydrated foods in glass jars to combine into meals later. VAcuum-sealing keeps foods fresher longer.

Good Luck!

CamperMom
Posted by: WildChild

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 08/05/08 08:47 PM

I highly recommend the Nesco FD 75 PR or Open Country 700 watt models. Both are made by Nesco. I'm part way through writing my second wilderness cookbook and I've used and abused my FD 75... for $69.00 it has held up to everything I've put it through and still runs like new.

Whatever you end up getting, make sure it has a temperature control, goes to at least 155F and does not have the fan on the bottom.

Hope that helps.

Laurie Ann
Posted by: stevetoney

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 08/06/08 02:14 PM

so I'm learning to use my FD-75 Nesco..

works great -- so far it's mostly been dehydrating cooked ground beef and making jerky from ground beef...

A few other experiments along the way in the 4 weeks I've had this thing

so last night I put in a pound of ground beef with all the seasoning for another batch of jerky.. should be done in 4-5 hours (around 10:30 pm)

I fall asleep -- wake at 5am -- dehydrator going all night long == very dry very crunchy jerky - LOL kind of like overcooking a good steak into well done oblivion

so I'm think about how to do a timer on this setup

Ideas???
Posted by: CamperMom

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 08/06/08 04:58 PM

A timer is easy-

Look for a mechanical timer that plugs into an electrical outlet, and interrupts the electricity delivery to your item to be shut off. Plug the dehydrator in to it. I found a package at Big Lots last year that had two timers and a flashlight for about $8.00 US. A really cheap solution that can start morning coffee, shut off a crock pot, turn on/off a light, OR time a dehydrator. Try the kitchen supply section or the hardware aisle.

Good Luck!

CamperMom
Posted by: WildChild

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 08/06/08 07:48 PM

Quote:
A timer is easy-

Look for a mechanical timer that plugs into an electrical outlet, and interrupts the electricity delivery to your item to be shut off. Plug the dehydrator in to it. I found a package at Big Lots last year that had two timers and a flashlight for about $8.00 US. A really cheap solution that can start morning coffee, shut off a crock pot, turn on/off a light, OR time a dehydrator. Try the kitchen supply section or the hardware aisle.

Good Luck!

CamperMom


that's pretty much what I do too CamperMom... works like a charm,
Posted by: ajherman

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 08/06/08 07:52 PM

i wish i had 70 dollars to spend. I love to cook, make all kinds of food, but i cant afford the ingredients or the tools to do some things. I have to spend my money on cheap calories to get through the week. Ramen, berries and things i can pick from the trail by the water front, that sort of thing. i improvise most of the time and its a lot more work, like making bread, people always tell me,"oh, just push the blah blah blah button on your machine" my oven lacks those buttons.

thanks for the help guys. I am going to try the oven thing first, if that does not work out well I will pick up something from amazon with a top mounted fan with my rewards check from my CC.. tuition at least gets me lots of points. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> any tips on what to try drying first? i was thinking apples and bananas, some cherries off our tree ( bumper crop this year). I will freeze what i am not going to eat in the next few months. how well does freezing work for preserving the stuff without vacuum sealing it? I am asking around to borrow a vacuum sealer, but have not found one yet.

thanks for the help.


<ad> check out the website in my profile, its about our AT hike, and what we are trying to raise money for </ad>
Posted by: bulrush

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 08/07/08 05:49 AM

A light timer works.

I have been searching for years for a countdown timer with a 4 hour limit. You turn it on once, and it turns off after 4 hours, never to turn on again. Sometimes I like to turn on my fan at night for the first 4 hours when it's still hot. I have searched many electronics sites and have found nothing like that.
Posted by: WildChild

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 08/07/08 06:45 AM

Quote:
i wish i had 70 dollars to spend. I love to cook, make all kinds of food, but i cant afford the ingredients or the tools to do some things. I have to spend my money on cheap calories to get through the week. Ramen, berries and things i can pick from the trail by the water front, that sort of thing. i improvise most of the time and its a lot more work, like making bread, people always tell me,"oh, just push the blah blah blah button on your machine" my oven lacks those buttons.

thanks for the help guys. I am going to try the oven thing first, if that does not work out well I will pick up something from amazon with a top mounted fan with my rewards check from my CC.. tuition at least gets me lots of points. <img src="/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif" alt="" /> any tips on what to try drying first? i was thinking apples and bananas, some cherries off our tree ( bumper crop this year). I will freeze what i am not going to eat in the next few months. how well does freezing work for preserving the stuff without vacuum sealing it? I am asking around to borrow a vacuum sealer, but have not found one yet.

thanks for the help.


<ad> check out the website in my profile, its about our AT hike, and what we are trying to raise money for </ad>


ah yes - I remember what it was like being a student

keep an eye out at garage sales.... sometimes you can pick them up for $5

also - if you buy from Amazon don't buy the Ronco or any of the models with the clear trays/sides. I had a Ronco and it took forever - almost twice as long as the Nesco models.

the oven works well although you have to keep a closer eye on things. prop the door open with a wooden spoon and use your lowest temp setting

things to try first? well you are on the right track with the fruit. when you do the bananas be sure to marinate the slices in something citrus (lemon, lime) for about 5 minutes. A friend of mine uses honey and lime juice and I use pineapple and lime juice. Same deal with apples and anything that will turn brown.

Spaghetti sauce and chili are also great things to dehydrate. Being a student you'll find it helpful to make a recipe and have it for dinner a couple nights and then dry the leftovers. It makes things so much more economical.

Freezing will extend the shelf life considerably - for fruit around 8 months before any noticeable flavor loss and sometimes even longer than that. You don't really need a vacuum sealer. I just use freezer grade ziplocks and make sure I get the air out of them.
Posted by: sarbar

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 08/07/08 08:46 AM

If you can bump up to say $60 you can get a good Nesco on Amazon. The Snack Master for example is good.
Using the link up above (a portal for the site here) to Amazon will bring this page up:
http://www.amazon.com/s?ie=UTF8&...p;index=kitchen
Posted by: stevetoney

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 08/08/08 02:06 PM

thanks

the search is on.......... no more crispy crisp jerky.. although I took it to the office and it was all gone in a day.. go figure what folks will eat.....
Posted by: ajherman

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 08/09/08 06:55 PM

woo.. looking through the basement of my rental house i found an old nesco food dehydrator! i amexcited now, i just have to ask the land lord if i can use it, which i don't see as an issue. thanks for the suggestions. I love the community here and hope i can meet some of you someday, possibly along the AT next year.
Posted by: sarbar

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 08/09/08 08:25 PM

Awesome find!
Posted by: catawampus

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 09/09/08 01:09 PM

I looked on Craigslist and bought a cheap ($10) used dehydrator. It was strangely without any brand markings, but I figured out that it is a Ronco. They get poor reviews, but I have discovered thus far that the longer dehydrating times can be convenient because they give me a longer window of time before the food is overly dry. I don't know if the clear exterior "hurts" the food nutrionally, or if the Ronco uses a lot of electricity to run...I'll have to check my next electric bill. Any responses or thoughts are welcome! Thanks.
Posted by: taprackngo

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 11/01/08 10:18 PM

I recently made my own. It uses a 200W lightbulb, foil lined with a temp gauge. I wanted to keep it cheap, the most expensive parts were the shelving, 1/4 chicken wire, casters, temp gauges. I had the sheeting laying around, but the other lumber I had to buy. It works great, dries 5 large shelves of jerky 17" x 20" in about 24 hours. I have a inlet in the back bottom for air to come in, and an exit near the front top for the moisture to escape. It was a great project, total cost about $80.00.


Posted by: scottmphoto

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 11/02/08 10:02 AM

I generally use my electric oven. I used to have a small dehydrator but it wasn't big enough and never worked that well. When I'm making jerky, I'll sometimes build a small hardwood fire in my firepit in the back yard and smoke it. Gives it a great flavor, depending on what type of wood you use.
In years past, I have built smokers out of a 55-gal drum that I bought locally for less than $10.
Posted by: r-ice

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 05/01/09 05:48 AM

Can I suggest the excalibur, a bit more expensive but sturdy and I love mine heh..
Posted by: CamperMom

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 05/01/09 06:38 AM

I love my Excalibur, too. It produces a superior product to my previous 4 cheap ones that quickly burned out. Watch e-Bay for less-expensive used models.

If e-Bay is not a route for you, check the American Harvest dehydrators at Walmart. At least, they used to be there. The folks at food-preserving@yahoogroups.com seemed to rate them second after Excalibur.

CamperMom
Posted by: Roocketman

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 05/01/09 09:14 AM

Originally Posted By CamperMom
I love my Excalibur, too. It produces a superior product to my previous 4 cheap ones that quickly burned out. Watch e-Bay for less-expensive used models.

If e-Bay is not a route for you, check the American Harvest dehydrators at Walmart. At least, they used to be there. The folks at food-preserving@yahoogroups.com seemed to rate them second after Excalibur.

CamperMom


I bought my American Harvester at Walmart several years ago. It is still good, and works well for preparing for trips of 1 week or less.

I keep eyeing the Excalibur line for the capacity to more easily prepare food for a longer trip. It is high on my list of self indulgent goodies to buy.
Posted by: chaz

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 05/04/09 09:05 AM

I probably don't get to go out as much as most folks on this forum but last year I found a ronco dehydrator at a yard sale. It works with a 100w light bulb has no fan but has trays etc. I started with bananas and apple slices that seemed to work o.k. I tried other stuff that went into the trash. So then I boxed that sucker back up and tried the oven like so many have posted here. What a bunch of work and time spent for the results. I don't think I'm saving money either. I ditched the whole process and use commercial products that I find acceptable and better that instant grits (which I still use) and mac and cheeze. My local Bass Pro has 2 varietys and enough selection plus most grocery stores have many items that you can combine to make freezer bag meals, ala Sarbar.
I bought my cheap dehydrator for $5 and that's about all it's worth if that. If your going to get into it at all, spend the money and buy something decent. tired
Posted by: Jeff

Re: looking for a decient, cheap dyehydrator - 05/05/09 02:53 PM

I bought an excalibur in 2003 and haven't bought a prepacked meal since. Since I was often getting food for 4 or more I think I saved the purchase price by the second year. If you don't have the money than get something used like others have mentioned.

We eat a lot more fruit and veges on the trail and I don't get the complaints of the taste of the freeze dried junk. I also know my food was fresh until I dried it a week or two before the trip. The prepacked stuff might be a couple of year old.

Jeff