What do you look for in a dehydrator?

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Snoop

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What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« on: June 16, 2014, 15:40 »
There's a fantastic thread on here about the first harvest of the year in a dehydrator and it's got me salivating over my yoghurt, just thinking of all the delights that could go in it to improve it.

But I live off grid, so before I go buying a dehydrator and making a potentially expensive mistake, what kind of features should I be looking for, how many watts are the ones you've all got, and how long do things take to do?

Is it feasible to dehydrate your own plums, apples and apricots?

Any other advice you'd give to the budding dehydrator?

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Lardman

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Re: What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« Reply #1 on: June 16, 2014, 19:06 »
There was a thread last year which almost made me buy one, but it was such a pitiful pepper harvest I didn't bother.  I'd also like to know, as like most things they seem to range from 20-200 :nowink:
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Headgardener22

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Re: What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« Reply #2 on: June 16, 2014, 19:16 »
The only comment I have to make is don't by one with plastic shelves. My daughter did and it melted after a couple of goes. It could be that she overloaded it (she has a tendency to do things like that) or she could just have been unfortunate. However, she took it back and got her money back because the ones with metal shelves were much more expensive.

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Annen

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Re: What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« Reply #3 on: June 16, 2014, 19:56 »

This below was one thread last year and there was another around the same time where NewShoot showed us her dried "stash" but I can't find it.
http://chat.allotment-garden.org/index.php?topic=107232.msg1203917#msg1203917

When you say off-grid do you mean you don't have electricity? If so, if your oven goes down really low then you can do things there.
But if it was just a figure of speech then Youtube has quite a few videos on dehydrating.

I've got one of the round cheap ones, because I wasn't sure about whether I would use it, or it would end up in the loft like BQ's. :nowink: Mine has plastic trays and a year later is still okay, but they do feel a bit delicate, and I think you have to treat them with respect.  The more expensive square ones look better quality, and you can do leathers in those, I haven't figured out how to do them in the round one.

I've got the Mary Bell dehydrator book, but find I don't refer to it very often, everything gets bunged in for an indeterminate number of hours.
Anne

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Madame Cholet

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Re: What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« Reply #4 on: June 16, 2014, 20:07 »
My round one came with a plastic sheet for leathers or you can use cling film. If you are off grid cut your apples in rings and hang them over the stove.
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Annen

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Re: What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« Reply #5 on: June 16, 2014, 20:56 »
My round one came with a plastic sheet for leathers or you can use cling film. If you are off grid cut your apples in rings and hang them over the stove.
Can you get the plastic sheets elsewhere?

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Madame Cholet

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Re: What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« Reply #6 on: June 16, 2014, 20:59 »
I've not looked but I guess you can.

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Beetroot Queen

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Re: What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« Reply #7 on: June 16, 2014, 21:10 »
I went with cheap and seen as it was in the roof in record time I am glad I did, its only just come back down and been re-tried

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New shoot

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Re: What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« Reply #8 on: June 16, 2014, 21:11 »

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Madame Cholet

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Re: What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« Reply #9 on: June 17, 2014, 05:58 »
I went with cheap and seen as it was in the roof in record time I am glad I did, its only just come back down and been re-tried.

Yes mine is one of the cheaper round type it is light and easy to store away when not in use. Works ok, it has a heater and fan in the top and temp control, but I tend to use it on low all of the time.

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tosca100

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Re: What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« Reply #10 on: June 17, 2014, 09:04 »
There's a fantastic thread on here about the first harvest of the year in a dehydrator and it's got me salivating over my yoghurt, just thinking of all the delights that could go in it to improve it.

But I live off grid, so before I go buying a dehydrator and making a potentially expensive mistake, what kind of features should I be looking for, how many watts are the ones you've all got, and how long do things take to do?

Is it feasible to dehydrate your own plums, apples and apricots?

Any other advice you'd give to the budding dehydrator?

Surely it would be better to use the sun? We did masses of peppers and toms last year by just laying them on a large tray and covering them with a net to keep the flies off. We are considering making some sort of structure this year even though we have an electric dehydrator. There are masses of ideas on line, if you want to use any glass or whatever you may have lying around, if you type in something like making a solar dehdrator with perspex/glass/whatever you might find something. Also youtube has lots on.

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Snoop

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Re: What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« Reply #11 on: June 17, 2014, 10:23 »
Thanks everyone and especially Tosca. We have solar panels and batteries for electricity, so we do have electricity but I'm always very careful about power demands. Hence the question about how many watts home dehydrators might consume and how long items might take to dry.

I've looked at solar dehydrators on the Web, but Mr. Snoop is always very concerned about food hygiene, so I was looking for something he might feel comfortable with. I was thinking about canning, but the cost of canners and getting enough jars quickly mounted up and given the number of years I'd be doing it (the canners weigh a ton, not literally but certainly would feel like it given my arthritis), it doesn't seem worth it. Dehydrating looks like a good way to go for me.

Have checked out the website recommended on earlier threads (thanks New Shoot - no idea why they didn't come up on my searches) and am amazed at Dehydrate2Store. This looks like an amazing source of info.

Thanks again.

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tosca100

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Re: What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« Reply #12 on: June 17, 2014, 10:55 »
Snoop, I also have arthritis and last year, my first here, I was thrown into the deep end as here canning is a way of life. With the help of a book and youtube I taught myself and we still have a good twenty bottles of vegetable sauces, passata, tomato sauce and fruit in the cellar. It need not be too expensive to bottle your toms and such, and they taste amazing. I bought a relatively cheap enamel pan which takes a large number of bottles depending on size (found a load in the shed, more came from the weekly market) I also have a largish camping stove which runs on propane and have it outside because of the heat. I leave the pan to cool before emptying it if OH is out. The veg for sauces are cooked on a barbie with wood before peeling as we have nowhere to put a free standing wood fire, if we did have we would use that instead of gas. The only time you need a canner is for meat when you have to pressure cook it (I think...don't eat meat) otherwise you either buy lidded bottles and get new lids from the market or even supermarket or bottles which use a thin disposable clamp on lid, the clamp costs pennies. It's probably similar in Spain, after all not everyone has a freezer.

What I have learned from last year is to do a lot more of things I use a lot of like whole plum tomatoes so I am growing more, less tomato sauce as it's a faff when you can use the whole toms, and to reduce the lutinitsa (pureed, cooked, aubergine, pepper and tomato sauce, great for quick soups, casseroles, baked beans etc) and more straight fruit in light syrup, like pears and peaches, delicious and much nicer than frozen.

Back on topic, the sun dried toms were bottled in cheap olive oil (hot) and the peppers kept as standby as I had frozen peppers whole and didn't always need them all. I thought of bottling them but I don't use enough so marinated them as and when I wanted them like that. This year i am going to sweet pickle/brine more veg as salady snacky stuff which is also common here. Even if we went back to the UK (heaven forbid!) I would still bottle and dry stuff. The main hygeine thing is to keep flies off and to make sure, if you bottle your dried toms and garlic, you use heat to avoid any problems.

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Annen

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Re: What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« Reply #13 on: June 18, 2014, 22:50 »
My round one came with a plastic sheet for leathers or you can use cling film. If you are off grid cut your apples in rings and hang them over the stove.
Can you get the plastic sheets elsewhere?
I used an oven liner sheet from Aldi, cut to shape, and a jar of apple sauce past its best-by date.  The resulting "leather" is absolutely scrummy, but a tad unmanageable.  I cut it into slices and rolled it up and shook some caster sugar over to stop it from sticking together.  It was nicer without the sugar but I couldn't think of any other thing that would work.

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Madame Cholet

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Re: What do you look for in a dehydrator?
« Reply #14 on: June 19, 2014, 06:20 »
Apples are good for sweetening more tart fruit


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