I’d just like to say how much Deb and I both appreciate all the firsthand knowledge you guys so graciously shared with us! All you guys are great!
Dave, thanks for the effort you put out in schooling Deb and I. You spent a little chunk of your morning doing so, thanks my friend!
You gave us some great info that I’m sure we’ll use many times through the years in regards to food dehydration! Please come back and visit with us soon!
Craig, you’re never at a loss for words, and if you’re not inquiring about something, you’re giving your two-cents worth. Don’t ever change, buddy! Thanks for dropping by and we appreciate your input as always! How old are you now…73, you said? Take care old boy!
Wendall, and JeffinTx, thank you guys for thinking enough to write Deb and I in regards to giving us a hand, and a few “heads-ups,” about dehydrators! Honestly, there are not enough people like you guys, and many more of our readers, out there today. Thanks to all!
To some of the others who commented to us, and you know who you are, thanks to you guys, too! It’s nice to know we have friends like you, and we hope we bring a smile to you guy’s faces, every so often! Come back and see us anytime. You know the door’s always open!
Dub and Deb
Hello Dub and Deb,
By sheer coincidence I was reading your article this morning while enjoying my bulk-bought, organic, hand-flaked oatmeal with my home-dried plums added. Even as I was cooking my oatmeal this morning and reconstituting my dried plums I was thinking how grateful I was to the person who gave us a big batch of plums last summer, and how wonderful it is having my Excalibur dehydrator to preserve them with.
I love eating fresh plums, but without the dehydrator to take care of the large batch we received probably a lot of them would have gone to waste uneaten, or fed to the goats. The dehydrator allows me to enjoy “fresh” plums all winter long. I love it.
My 9-tray Excalibur does not have a timer. In my mind a timer is unnecessary. The reason why is because your dried items are finished when they are done, not by a certain set time taken from a recipe book. There are a lot of factors that can make the “done” time variable — for example, the ambient humidity and temperature, the amount of moisture in the item being dried, how many trays full you have, etc.
Besides which, if you set the timer for your items to be “done,” say, in the middle of the night, you’d have to rehydrate them again in the morning before you could take them out and store them because they would have picked up a lot of ambient moisture while the dehydrator was off. Also, dehydrating is not “cooking.”
Your temperature should not be at such a high setting that it cooks the food. For fruit and vegetables, low and slow is the best. I’m talking 105 degrees. That’s why it is no problem at all to leave something in for a few hours extra, like overnight. How much more dry than “dry” can you dry something? You can’t “overdry” something that is already properly dried. As long as it isn’t at cooking temps, a few extra hours don’t matter.
Meat is different, and requires slightly higher temps, but still below the “cooking” level.
A few tips from our experience:
Make sure when you turn off the dehydrator and remove your items you get them into an airtight container as quickly as possible. Dehydrated foods begin to pick up ambient moisture at an alarming speed. You don’t want to put your dehydrated items into storage with ANY moisture at all!
We put our dried foods into glass jars, preferably the canning type with sealed ring lids. Then we use a hand pump to draw the air and remaining ambient moisture out of the jar. We use a cheap gadget called a Pump ‘N Seal. Works great!
Don’t use Ziplock bags. Believe it or not they are porous to ambient moisture, and your dried foods will eventually spoil.
As we use items from the jar, like my plums this morning, we repump again before placing the jar back into storage. The reason why low temps are the best for fruits and vegetables is because you don’t want to cook off all the nutrition in your food item. Enzymes can survive low temps, but are destroyed at cooking temps.
Also you don’t want to caramelize the sugars in your fruits. I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but I’ve read that dehydrating preserves more of the healthy natural goodness in food than any other preservation method. Nearly 100% retention.
I’ve never done eggs, but have dried a lot of jerkies and hamburger. We’re mostly meatless, so most of our drying is done with fruits and veggies. We do make jerky and dried hamburger, however, for camping and backpacking.
When you get a supply of different vegetables in, you can cut them up into real small pieces, dry them, and then make a “soup mix” out them. We make extensive use of drying garlic and onions. One tip: Do not mix garlic and onions with other items in your dehydrator unless you want garlicy apricots, for example. The big, big advantage of dehydrating over other methods, besides the nutrition boost, is that you get much more food per storage shelf space. And, in a pinch, if TEOTWAWK I hits, you can carry off a whole lot more nutrition per boxload if you have to bug out suddenly.
Just some thoughts. Dave
Just read your column and I have some thoughts.
First the Excalibur. I think this is the best model and a better idea than the round ones. With the Excalibur warm air flows across all the trays. I really like that it is made in the U.S. A. It is nearly sending me over the edge when I buy just about everything and find out it is made in….well, you know where! And a lot of times it turns out to be junk. I totally agree, it is over regulation, unions, high taxation that has created this mess. In other words, Big brother is to blame. Sorry, I got a bit off track there. It happens when my blood starts to boil. The model with a timer or without? Depends what the cost difference is. You can always buy a timer that you plug in and then plug in the appliance to that. Bingo! You have an appliance on a timer. Depends on the cost. Timers can be bought probably for $20 or less. I do think the 9-tray model is the way to go for you.
Are dried eggs safe? If they are properly cooked they are. Even with the wet dry method you still end up cooking them which would kill salmonella. I’m not concerned in the least about their safety. I think I’ve mentioned this but I will say it again. On their web site in the videos the woman said it is important to make sure the work area and work tools are disinfected so as not to contaminate the food we want to dehydrate and store. So, I spray down the counter, cutting board etc with bleach.
I look forward to my next effort and am hoping for better success.
Take care Dub and our best to your other half.
We love ours! We did a lot of research on this. Excalibur is the only brand to buy. Get the eight drawer. Your don’t have to use all the drawers and there will come a time you’ll need all eight.
The timer is absolutely a necessity! Don’t buy it without a timer!
Regards and Good Luck!
Dub and Deb,
I have used the NESCO food dehydrator for years to dry London Broil meat as Treats for my dogs. I have used it for some fruits such as Pear and Apple. I cut the Broil across the grain after trimming off any fat in 1/4 – 1/8 inch slices. Depending on the humidity, complete drying takes anywhere from 3 to 5 hours.
Basically the thinner the food is sliced prior to drying the less time is needed. Trial and error. Never thought about dehydrating eggs, but if might be worth a try. Incidently, meat and fish should be dried at 160 Degrees.