making your own dehydrated food

10:49 a.m. on March 25, 2010 (EDT)
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i'm getting a little tired of eating "store-bought" dehydrated food. i see lotsa forums of making your own dehydrated food, but no suggestions on how to do the actual dehydrating.

i do not have the $$$ to buy a dehydrator. so how should i go about doing the dehydrating in a traditional basic kitchen???

1:25 p.m. on March 25, 2010 (EDT)
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Making your own dehydrator:
An easy to make and affordable dehydrator can be made on your own with a few furnace filters for racks, bungie corded to a simple box fan. This works real well! In some cases it is better as it does not use heat, so it will not cook your food as it dries. See here for the Alton Brown 'Good Eats' method.

Taken from this site

http://www.trailcooking.com/dehydrating101

Here is another link with an oven process

http://www.netwoods.com/cooking/drying2.html

3:03 p.m. on March 25, 2010 (EDT)
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Something else that I thought I'd mention, ask around your family and friends if someone has a dehydrator they don't want. That's what I did and I had two of them in a weeks time. I kept the best and past the other on to a buddy. Several years ago they were all the rage and lots of folks bought them for fruit and roll-ups but they just sat in garages. Ask you mother and your friends if there mother has one packed away.

Graigs list also has some very good deals on dehydrators.

7:28 p.m. on March 25, 2010 (EDT)
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My dehydrator was $5.00 at a garage sale. It isn't the best but it works well enough. I also picked up a meat slicer at a garage sale for 10.00. I like to smoke the meat in the smokey mountain smoker then put the left overs (if there are any) in the fridge. The next day you slice it thin and dehydrate it. When you store it store it in a container that has a lot of air. It should be good for a long time. Be sure to get rid of any fat before you dehydrate it. Fat is awful after it's dehydrated.

10:34 p.m. on March 25, 2010 (EDT)
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I have also become interested in doing this. getting the dehydrator is not a big deal for me. Its more of getting a good list of recipies together. Anybody have any good book or website suggestions

12:00 a.m. on March 26, 2010 (EDT)
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I have also become interested in doing this. getting the dehydrator is not a big deal for me. Its more of getting a good list of recipies together. Anybody have any good book or website suggestions

Check out the trail cooking link I posted above. There is a lot of great information on that site and some very good, simple recipies also.

6:20 p.m. on March 26, 2010 (EDT)
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Thanks Gary, I have bookmarked that site as well as some others. I guess now I just need to get into it. I always learn best by doing anyway.

8:57 p.m. on March 26, 2010 (EDT)
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I've had pretty good success using my oven to dehydrate my food for the trail. I use a low temp and keep the door to the oven cracked open (1 - 3 inches). It took me a while to get a feel for it, but practice makes perfect.

2:55 a.m. on March 27, 2010 (EDT)
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I would love to have gourmet meals when in the backcountry but frankly I just don't want all the hassle. By the time I'm done fishing or whatever I've been doing I'm ready to boil some water and eat. I posted several recipes that fit my simple needs in the recipe section. Nothing fancy, just fast simple and filling food that I think would appeal to anyone wanting to get started dehydrating there own meals.

Even if you don't want to dehydrate most can be made with food from the local grocer. We have a local grocer here that carries a lot of hehydrated foods in there bulk section and I can buy as much or little as I want. They have dehydrated refried beans, cooked and dehydrated sliced and shredded potatoes, cheese powder, and a lot of other things. I think most markets now carry the small packages of shelf stable bacon that are great to add to just about anything.

1:15 a.m. on April 30, 2010 (EDT)
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In a quick answer--I have made my own dehydrator with a large box and a 100 w light lightbulb--covered the inside of the box with foil, and used racks. Didn't work too badly (we made it in an outdoor class).

I also use the electric oven. Mine will dial down to 150 degrees, and with the door cracked open, it will do a very serviceable job on most foods.

What has worked best though is a tray dehydrator that my best friend has. We have dehydrated virtually everything. (She too picked hers up cheap at a garage sale, and works like a champ)

A couple of caveats--chicken will dehydrate, but it's nasty unless it's been freeze dried. Just take the foil packs of chicken to add separately--just brown the chicken first to firm the texture...refries dry out fantastically and make a fine backbone to outdoor food...and leave the dehy eggs to the pros. They dry out just OK at home.

Bottom line--my friends and family save tons of moneydehydrating our own meals, I can control salt and other additive proportions, and the food is generally better than most I can buy.

9:17 p.m. on April 30, 2010 (EDT)
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I used to experiment with drying stuff at home in the 70s. If you have a gas oven which has a pilot light that is always lit, you can dry foods in the oven, dont turn the heat up at all. Just use the lil heat from the pilot light.. Just spread whatever it is on a sheet pan or make a screen and place it on the oven racks. be sure to leave the door of the oven open to let out the moisture. Experiment doing different foods, watching them a couple times a day and everyday.

You can also make outdoor dehydrators by making screen trays and then wrapping them in a screen mesh and hanging it outside. Just be sure not to let the foods get wet or they will mildew.

You can make your own instant rice at home. Take and cook whatever rice you like to eat, then after its cooked spread it out on a sheet pan and either dry in the unlit oven method above or just cover the rice spread out on a screen untill its completely dry. Then put it in a airtight ziploc and when you are ready for it it will rehydrate in the cook pot. Homemade instant rice is 10X cheaper than store bought.

With practice even homemade soups, stews and chili can be dehydrated. Experiment with cooking and drying at home. Macaroni will rehydrate in cold water which can save cooking fuel. Experiment with it and see how long it takes at home so you know when out doors. Once the pasta is softened then heat it, once the water boils its done. Just be sure to stir it occasionally while its heating to keep it from sticking to the pot.

August 27, 2014
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