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I'm interested in getting a Food Dehydrator

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Any advice? We buy a lot of dry food as healthy snacks, but we figure we can make our own dry food a lot cheaper and a lot healthier. Anyone have experience in this area?

post #2 of 11
I have had one for about 18 years and love it!  I make dried fruit all the time, make meals that we take camping and make sun chips each week.  Love it!  It is a basic (cheap) model, but is still working fine. This year I want to make one to use outside using the sun, so I will not have to use electricity!.
Millie Barnes
http://optimumnutrition.wordpress.com
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
What is the brand name of the one you have or did you make yourself? How do you make one? Where I live it is very very humid. Does this make a difference?
post #4 of 11
I've only used electric dehydrators, but if you make one, food dehydrators essentially use constant, lower level heat and air flow to remove moisture from food and preserve it. Thus, those are the two elements that you'll need to incorporate into a homemade version.

There are many different brands, price points and features on food dehydrators.  Two basic features that better food dehydrators will have are an adjustable thermostat for various heat settings and a fan with air vents to blow the removed moisture out of the dehydrator. Entry level food dehydrators typically do not have both these features.

One way to compare different brands of food dehydrators, that contain similar features, is to review the food dehydrators on a price per square foot of total drying area (total price divided by total drying area) while also considering their product reviews.

Dehydrator sizes can range from 4 square feet of drying area up to 15 square feet, so consider how often and much you'll use it.  And yes, humidity can lengthen the dehydrating time.
 
There are numerous articles at http://food-dehydrator.com/food-dehydrator/articles.aspx that can answer your questions in more detail. Best.
post #5 of 11
You can actually make one yourself. you can make a solar food dehydrator. there are a lot of DIYs on this.
post #6 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thank tips were very helpful. I haven't made up my mind yet but thank you.
post #7 of 11
Just in case you're a DIY kind of girl, here's a wiki on making and using your own solar dehydrator: greenhome.huddler.com/wiki/how-to-make-your-own-solar-food-dehydrator

Whatever you decide, you'll have to let us know how it goes!
post #8 of 11
So here's a question kind of related to dehydrators...have you ever tried dehydrating soup?  My brother was talking about it the other day.  He and his girlfriend are planning a backpacking trip but she has various dietary restrictions so they can't do a lot of the prepackaged stuff and need to make things from scratch to take with them.  He was saying they were thinking of making homemade soup and then dehydrating it.  What do you think?  Does it just turn into a block of dry soup? 
post #9 of 11
I don't know how thick or thin your soups are, and I'm a gluten-free vegan, but I've dried most every kind of soup ingredient in our home-built solar food dehydrator. My wife even tried pre-cooking beans, drying them whole, then running them coarsely through a hand-cranked grinder. Mixed with dried veggies and herbs it made great backpacking food. I have a neighbor who did the same for an extended canoe trip through the Everglades, where she was the cook for a number of other paddlers in her group. Our dryer is the one in the post above by "green-bohemia".
post #10 of 11
Hi Bobdowser!

Great to see you here.

For those of you interested in making your own dehydrator, check his out. Actually, his site has a lot of great DIY info. He's an excellent source to have here.

I know I'm really interested in the idea making my own dehydrator, and I tend to prefer to take the DIY route. That being said, I am a little intimidated by it all, too.

Do you have any advice, Bobdowser, for novices like me to help us get started?
post #11 of 11
Absolutely. If you have a car or truck, park it and use it as a food dehydrator. You already know how hot it gets on sunny or even partly cloudy days. You just need to come up with some food-safe screen to dry the food on and some black cloth (I like black polyester knits)to cover the food. The cloth and screen sit in the biiggest window, front or back, facing the direction of the sun (south in the northern hemisphere, north in the southern). Crack a window open a bit to let humidity out. The sun hits the cloth and generates more heat right over the food, driving off the moisture, which exits out the window. I have a friend who did this for years before she built a home unit. She'd prep the food (thinly slicing, blanching if necessary) on the screen before driving to work, set up the screen and cloth for the day, check it at lunch (turning or fluffing it up a bit if necessary), then drive home to put it away in jars.
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