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Old 16-06-2012, 14:57   #1
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Dehydrator

I am field testing a dehydrator and appreciate suggestions from anyone who is into drying food. I'm thinking it's 'way too bulky to carry aboard the average boat and, unless you have a garden, I think it would be expensive to buy fresh food only to dry the life out of it. That said, I once harvested a lot of rose hips that were growing wild on Martha's Vineyard. They dried nicely, were tasty and presumably were loaded with Vitamin C. Also found tons of wild blueberries in Nova Scotia. Should I try drying fish? Jerky? What vegetables work best?
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Old 16-06-2012, 15:20   #2
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Hi Janet, I am just getting back into drying food. We used to do extensive back country canoe & kayak trips, and would dry all our food. Sailing has now dominated our time, but we had been carrying and using dried food from our canoeing days up until a couple of years ago. The food was probably five years old by then, and still tasted great.

I have the same concerns with space so I have tracked down plans to build a solar dehydrator using sunbrella. We'll see if it works.
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Old 16-06-2012, 15:51   #3
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Re: Dehydrator

Never had a dehydrater aboard but always carried a fold up smoker for years and smoked fish and meat a bunch, I sure you can find room if ya like dryed fruit and stuff as much as we like smoked fish !!LOL
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Old 16-06-2012, 17:28   #4
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Re: Dehydrator

Way back when, I had a virtually complete collection of Cruising World. In one of them was an article about drying things using a drying box with two open ends. They put screen over the ends to keep the bugs out and the top was a sheet of plexiglass. They'd lay the food out in to the box, (I suspect it was raised on sticks or something but they didn't mention that) and put the box on deck in the sun, and let the sun and wind dry things out. As per the article they would dry just about anything in there.

Might be worth a try.
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Old 17-06-2012, 08:48   #5
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Our old land-based dehydrator is essentially a plywood box (~ 3' x 3' x 3.5') with a low-temp heating element at the base and a openable vented top. The key to successful drying is to maintain dry air flow. You can dry food in an oven, as long as you don't cook the food.

We used to dry just about everything. All manner of veggies and fruits, of course, but beef (as jerky or ground), fish, chicken. Even canned meats like tuna, salmon, or flakes of miscellaneous-meat-product dry just fine. You can dry thick soups/stews (pea, mulligatawny, chili, etc.), tomato sauces (creating a leather), and spices. Just about anything can be dried, and if done right, doesn't really diminish the nutritional value, nor the taste of the food.

I've been investigating some commercial dehydrators, but as you say, they are bulky. So I'm going to try this cloth version.
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Old 17-06-2012, 12:09   #6
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Re: Dehydrator

In Sailing the Farm, by Kenneth Newmeyer, ed 1981, Ten Speed Press

there is a model and explanations on how to make it.

There is also a model and instructions to make a solar still and other things.
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Old 17-06-2012, 17:17   #7
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Re: Dehydrator

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In Sailing the Farm, by Kenneth Newmeyer, ed 1981, Ten Speed Press

there is a model and explanations on how to make it.

There is also a model and instructions to make a solar still and other things.
Yup, that's where I got the plans. Great book, btw. Hard to find now, but lots of good stuff for people who are really looking to be low-cost, self-sufficient.
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Old 17-06-2012, 18:20   #8
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Re: Dehydrator

It is just about impossible to find in a bookstore, but we can find it for download in, guess where, Google.
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Old 20-06-2012, 14:29   #9
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Re: Dehydrator

I used to use the oven but after reading up on the new (Ronco) dehydrator I can see the value in having controll-able vents, twirling shelves for frequent (manual) rotation and a steady heat source. The quicker the drying, the better the taste, color and nutrients. Vegetables are far better than in my jury rig dehydrators of the past. Down side: as I said before, it's way to bulky for most boats except maybe multi-hulls that have lots of space for lightweight storage. It's round shape makes for less efficient storage but easier tray rotation.
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Old 20-06-2012, 14:44   #10
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Re: Dehydrator

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Originally Posted by JanetGroene View Post
I used to use the oven but after reading up on the new (Ronco) dehydrator I can see the value in having controll-able vents, twirling shelves for frequent (manual) rotation and a steady heat source. The quicker the drying, the better the taste, color and nutrients. Vegetables are far better than in my jury rig dehydrators of the past. Down side: as I said before, it's way to bulky for most boats except maybe multi-hulls that have lots of space for lightweight storage. It's round shape makes for less efficient storage but easier tray rotation.
Hi Janet, have you looked at these other ones from Excalibur? The one I use on land is essentially this one from Dry It. I've never used one of those little round ones, but they seem too small (and fragile).
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Old 01-11-2012, 12:19   #11
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Re: Dehydrator

How did the dehydrating go? I am trying to figure out dehydrating and slow-cooking aboard.
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Old 01-11-2012, 13:17   #12
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Re: Dehydrator

I've owned a Ronco for at least 15 years now. I find it great for drying stuff to take on trips, but it's personally now what I'd store on a boat, unless it was a fairly good sized boat. Also, one of the reasons I dry things is because at the end of the season here at home I can get tomatoes, apples, etc, incredibly cheap (or free) in volume, and dehydrate them. I'm less like to come across that when out cruising.
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Old 01-11-2012, 13:32   #13
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Re: Dehydrator

Interesting thread! I've been dehydrating all sorts of things at home, for several years, and had been musing about what would work well for the boat. I think a solar powered fan (e.g. computer fan (12-v)) would work well to pull air through almost anything.

Almost to the end of drying all my tomatoes for the year. Use them in all kinds of things.

Drying fresh spinach gives you nice flakes, for soups, etc.

Apples, nectarines, peaches, etc are staples.

And on and on.
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Old 01-11-2012, 14:35   #14
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Re: Dehydrator

In the remote islands of the Bahamas, you'll still see conch drying on clothes lines. I believe they are heavily salted first, but I never asked locals how they do it. Perhaps smoke is also involved. Local advice should be a great source of information. Alaskan smoked salmon is a real treat, altho I ran into a Native American there who had nothing else during hard times and developed a strong allergy to it.
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Old 08-12-2012, 16:37   #15
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Re: Dehydrator

I found this solar dehydrator online (Amazon.com: Food Pantry Hanging Dehydrator / Dryer - Five Tray Non Electric Fruit, Vegetable, Jerky Dehydration - Food Pantrie: Kitchen & Dining) and think it's small enough to fit on a smaller boat (we're sailing on a 30 footer). The price is what prevented me from purchasing it ($50), though I'm sure you could make one quite easily (something I hope to do in the near future). The one requirement, of course, is lots of sunshine. Where do you cruise?

Smoking fish and meats - now that's a great idea. I wonder if I could find something compact enough for our boat.
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