Friday, December 19, 2008

Dehydrator 0003

Whelp, been going 11 hours now, and the 1/8" slice produces definitive chips. Both banana and apple are dry to the touch, just turned them, & will let them go another hour before bagging into zip-locks.

Lucked out on the zip-locks several years ago. Sam's Club had them on sale so I bought a case of four boxes of quart size, only working on the second box still. 54 per box, so I've done in the range 60 to 75, 1 to 3 ounce bags of dehydrating. That's all I've used these bags for, so far.

I've been thinking about the prep stuff, and I think I need to do this only one or two days a week. That might help keep my interest up. It should also help with the timing. Over-night is OK, but if I have to go to work the next day, that means either the stuff has to sit in the drier, or I need to hustle to get it out, which is problematic. It's quicker than prep, but I don't know if I like the idea of the screens sitting dirty all day.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dehydrating 0002

What I have...

American Harvest Garden Master with 10 trays.

This has serviced me pretty well for 6 to 8 years. What I've done with it so far is about 200 pounds of meat into jerky. I take it out every winter for a week or two or a month or two, get the Nesco spices, and go nuts. I love the jerky, but get tired of the prep work and clean-up and say the heck with it after a period of time. I have one of the Nesco Jerky guns, so I always use ground meat.

Drying meat this way means that everything is pretty uniform, the spices are in the meat, so no marinating, and it's not as "chewy" or hard to tear off a small piece when eating, to make it last longer. Which is good, because a pound of meat translates into 18-22 6-8" sticks. I can eat that watching a movie. If you add in work time, that's about $6 for me to make 4 to 6 ounces of jerky. No wonder it costs so much in the store...

NEW - Excalibur 2900 9 tray dehydrator.

9 square feet of drying area. Moderately intimidating. Dang. If I didn't like prep work and cleaning up before, am I going to like it any better now? We'll see.

Just got the Excalibur today. Spent about an hour or so setting it up, reading the book (yes, I read instructions), and cleaning it.

At Cubs today, I bought 20 bucks of prep stuff, mostly a sturdy box grater/slicer. Tones spices, Chili, Cinnamon, Hickory smoke salt, Black Pepper, Cayenne Pepper. 6 lbs. of 93 percent ground beef. Red Delicious Apples.

At Hometown, bought 4 almost perfectly ripe bananas, good size.

Played with the slicer on the fruit. Makes about 1/8" slices. It seems the faster you work it, the better the slices turn out.

Probably need to get some ascorbic acid for color, otherwise everything will be brown. The browning doesn't affect the taste that I can tell, but appearance is good in food.

Only one banana had bruising, otherwise all four filled two trays in the Excalibur.

Apples, two apples filled about a tray and a half. Added some cinnimon.

Started it running at 135 at about 8:30 p.m. We'll see what they look like at 10 or so when I turn them.
Dehydration entry 0001

Yes, I dehydrate food. Why? Beef jerky tastes better and costs less when you make it yourself. Beef and Venison, Pork and Venison taste great, and you can make it last forever by drying it. Bored with just eating an apple? Slice it, sprinkle with a little cinnamon, dehydrate it overnight, and you have a whole new taste sensation that is still good for you.

Yes, I'm an enthusiastic dehydrater.

Until now, I haven't kept any real records of how well things worked. I don't recall ever ruining much, but some things could have been done better, and would have been more all around fun, I think, if I had done it better.

So, I think I'm going to start keeping a log of the dehydration activities here. It's free, I can access it from wherever I need to and it's gotten very easy since Google got in the act.

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