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Old 01-02-2014, 12:12   #1
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Dehydrating Food

I have an Excalibur 9 tray dehydrator. Within a few weeks of owning it I took it apart and replaced the 120 volt fan with a motor from an h2o fan and the blades from a cheap automotive fan. I chose h2o motor because I've had one running 24 /7 for over a year. (Side note. I cut sections from a furnace heater filter and put it behind the H2O fan and it collects a huge amount of dust. After posting this I think I'm going to put a filter behind my dehydrator) I know this is a large unit but it fits perfectly under my companion way steps. It's also the perfect place for it. In the summer the heat goes right out the hatch. And in the winter I close my hatch and it heats from the center of my boat. Its very inefficient to use with my Honda generator but if I ever tied up to the dock and when I was traveling down the intercoastal my alternator would put out more than enough juice to run my inverter for it. I have found that I can dehydrate mushrooms and herbs by just running the fan. In the near future I should have enough solar panels to run it. If anyone wants to talk about their dehydrating experiences post here.
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Old 01-02-2014, 12:55   #2
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re: Dehydrating Food

I'm really keen to start experimenting with drying foods. My dear husband is currently making us two new headsails but as soon as he gets a break the instructions for the dryer in Ken Neumeyer's 'Sailing the Farm' will be shoved under his nose!

I regularly pick herbs when I go walking here in Greece. My current method of drying is to put them on kitchen paper on a tray in the hatches (we have bubble hatches with fitted rat screens) for a few days. I also have strings of chillies everywhere!
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Old 01-02-2014, 13:35   #3
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No personal experience but what I've read Is that you want to keep the direct sunlight off them. and I'm impressed. wish I knew how to identify herbs with enough confidence to pick them in the "wild"
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Old 01-02-2014, 14:49   #4
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re: Dehydrating Food

I've been drying food on land for 10-15 years. I started when we were into serious canoe and then kayak tripping (20+ days, way off the beaten path kinda stuff). Since slipping into the luxurious lifestyle of sailboat cruising I've continued to bring some dried foods, although I must admit the need is much reduced.

I've dry just about any type of fruit, veggie, purees and thickened soups/stews. I also dry some kinds of meat (beef, chicken, some fish). Ours home made dryer is very similar to the ones on this site. It's basically a plywood box with 12 trays (2' x 2'). I vacuum seal the dried food, and just bought a new 12v Foodsaver sealer. I'm also looking at getting something like these food vaults for the boat.

I'm in the process of building a solar dehydrator using Neumeyer's plans. I may modify it a bit ... not sure yet. But I really like the look of the Excaliburs. Did you change the fan b/c the one provided was inadequate?
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Old 01-02-2014, 16:17   #5
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I've been drying food on land for 10-15 years. I started when we were into serious canoe and then kayak tripping (20+ days, way off the beaten path kinda stuff). Since slipping into the luxurious lifestyle of sailboat cruising I've continued to bring some dried foods, although I must admit the need is much reduced.

I've dry just about any type of fruit, veggie, purees and thickened soups/stews. I also dry some kinds of meat (beef, chicken, some fish). Ours home made dryer is very similar to the ones on this site. It's basically a plywood box with 12 trays (2' x 2'). I vacuum seal the dried food, and just bought a new 12v Foodsaver sealer. I'm also looking at getting something like these food vaults for the boat.

I'm in the process of building a solar dehydrator using Neumeyer's plans. I may modify it a bit ... not sure yet. But I really like the look of the Excaliburs. Did you change the fan b/c the one provided was inadequate?
I can't remember exactly how much amperage the original fan drew through my inverter but I believe it was about 3 amps. And it is a heavy duty well made fan from appearances. I did it because h2o fan uses point six amps. It worked out really well because sometimes I leave it running for a week " drying" things like blueberries and mushrooms but not really drying them just keeping them from going bad. they slowly dry and there is a point where they're the best. Slightly dried increases flavor without becoming leathery. I was very careful to not damage to the fan when I was removing it in case the 12 Volt fan didn't work. What's a discussion with dehydration without discussing how to store. I have a sinbo vacuum sealer that allows me to use any bag that can be sealed and that includes zip lock bags . Much cheaper in the long run then having to use FoodSaver bags. I also have a food saver mason jar attachment for vacuum sealing mason jars of course. I'm a little disappointed with the bags even the three millimeter getting holes in them. But the mason jars are awesome.
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Old 01-02-2014, 18:34   #6
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re: Dehydrating Food

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What's a discussion with dehydration without discussing how to store. I have a sinbo vacuum sealer that allows me to use any bag that can be sealed and that includes zip lock bags . Much cheaper in the long run then having to use FoodSaver bags. I also have a food saver mason jar attachment for vacuum sealing mason jars of course. I'm a little disappointed with the bags even the three millimeter getting holes in them. But the mason jars are awesome.
I've had other sealers, and they worked OK. But I gotta say, this Foodsaver is incredible. Way better than other ones I've had. And the bags seem very strong. It is a PITA to have to use their bags, but apparently you can use any bag, you just have to use a clipping from a foodsaver bag to make the connection. There are Utube videos. I'm going to give it a try with a ziplock. I can let you know how it goes.

Do you dry fresh fish? I never have yet.
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Old 01-02-2014, 18:50   #7
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I've had other sealers, and they worked OK. But I gotta say, this Foodsaver is incredible. Way better than other ones I've had. And the bags seem very strong. It is a PITA to have to use their bags, but apparently you can use any bag, you just have to use a clipping from a foodsaver bag to make the connection. There are Utube videos. I'm going to give it a try with a ziplock. I can let you know how it goes.

Do you dry fresh fish? I never have yet.
I've watched those videos, totally cool. The simbo has a snorkel that pops back, its just automatic. But you can do the same thing with FoodSaver just using something to keep the bag from collapsing. You just have to make sure that it's in the right place. Far enough forward to suck air out, far enough back to be out of the way of the sealer. No fish yet but definitely on the top of my Waterworld dream list.
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Old 02-02-2014, 01:15   #8
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re: Dehydrating Food

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No personal experience but what I've read Is that you want to keep the direct sunlight off them. and I'm impressed. wish I knew how to identify herbs with enough confidence to pick them in the "wild"
I wasn't aware of the need to keep the sun off them, I can't imagine that it would do anything but bleach them a bit, after all the herbs are in direct sunlight when they're in the ground! Maybe some research is needed.

I'm not so good at identifying the herbs, sage and thyme are the easiest ones to find around here, and chillies of course, I can spot them from 100 paces!
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Old 02-02-2014, 08:28   #9
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Re: Dehydrating Food

I mostly dry individual foods, but I also dry thicken soups/stews like chilli, mulligatawny and pea. Does anyone else dry stuff like this?
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Old 02-02-2014, 14:40   #10
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I wasn't aware of the need to keep the sun off them, I can't imagine that it would do anything but bleach them a bit, after all the herbs are in direct sunlight when they're in the ground! Maybe some research is needed.

I'm not so good at identifying the herbs, sage and thyme are the easiest ones to find around here, and chillies of course, I can spot them from 100 paces!
I'm currently living in a city. But love idea of harvesting wild food. I suggest researching nettles. Slightly steam them or make tea. Supposed to be a super healthy food.
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Old 02-02-2014, 14:52   #11
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Re: Dehydrating Food

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I'm currently living in a city. But love idea of harvesting wild food. I suggest researching nettles. Slightly steam them or make tea. Supposed to be a super healthy food.
If they're anything like Greek 'horta' I'll give them a miss!
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Old 02-02-2014, 15:29   #12
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Re: Dehydrating Food

Quote:
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.....wish I knew how to identify herbs with enough confidence to pick them in the "wild"
Quote:
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......sage and thyme are the easiest ones to find around here....
Greek islands in the Aegean are covered in different proportions of sage, thyme and oregano. Rosemary bushes can be found around most churchyards, even the most remote ones (they too survive the scorching, hot dry weather), so these 4 herbs never need to be bought here.

This is Symi early last summer. The carpet of white flowering plants is oregano and is unmistakable . Sage and thyme grow equally prolifically:
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Old 03-02-2014, 02:02   #13
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Re: Dehydrating Food

SWL, I can never find oregano, not familiar enough with it I think! But I see that everywhere, just didn't know what it was!
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Old 05-02-2014, 21:32   #14
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Re: Dehydrating Food

Mike, I dehydrate about everything. Fruits,veggies,etc. potatoe's are I feel a waste of time. 24 hrs drying time for about a smaller zip lock bag of chips. Not really cost effective. Was hoping to use in a stew, but since they are so cheap, just buy them as we go. Have used for deer and pork,no beef. Cannot see why beef would be much different than deer, just have to trim most marbling out. Have a food saver, wonder about fish. Dried would be marginal for long term, I would think. Think northern(snakes) or walleye would be ok, but oily fish(cats,whitefish,etc) I don't think I would trust. Any better ideas out there. Big pike abound here, would love to find a way to preserve without smoking. Hard to find the bigger papers, thought I would say it before someone else. Bob
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Old 06-02-2014, 06:27   #15
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Re: Dehydrating Food

I've never tried drying potatoes, in part b/c you can buy dried mashed taters cheap and they're quite good (one of the few dried items worth purchasing). But as you say, fresh potatoes last so well that it hardly seems worth drying them.

I dry beef in the form of various jerkys, but to be honest I prefer a basic ground beef mix that involves lightly cooking the beef to remove the fats, then mixing with flour, some Worcestershire sauce and some dried stock (oxo cubes). I've dried chicken (cooked first), as well as canned meats (tuna, ham, etc). I'm sure deer and pork would be easy to do, as long as most of the fat is trimmed off.

Drying fish will be a challenge due to the oiliness of most. I wonder if salting first might be the way to go.
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