Alternative Uses for a Food Dryer

Posted By: Daniel Gasteiger  //  Category: food dehydrator, food dryer, solar dryer

I came across an article that suggests how you might put a food dryer to use for tasks other than drying food. The terms of use for the article require that I not change a word in it. However, I want to point out that the author clearly has an agenda to get you thinking there’s something special about a particular brand of food dryer. Never mind that. The suggestions for how to use a food dryer are both creative and useful.

Please enjoy this article about practical uses for a food dehydrator:

Actually… when I published the article, Google immediately trashed the ranking of my Food Dryer blog. This has become a recurring problem for articles I’ve republished from article services. So… I’ve taken down the original article and have paraphrased it below. Because of this recurring problem, I will no longer publish the full text of previously-published articles in this blog.

I hope you’ll still visit; I’ll continue to post information about drying fruits, vegetables, and meats, and about the equipment available to help with these projects.

My Spin on 11 Ways to use a Food Dryer

An eZine articles piece describing 11 odd but practical uses for a food dryer offers… well, eleven suggestions for how you might use a food dryer. Please visit the original article for details. Here are the suggested uses:

1. DRY PASTA: When you make your own noodles, your dehydrator can dry them quickly.

2. MAKE INSTANT PASTA: Have you ever eaten Ramen noodles? They’re actually dehydrated cooked noodles. This explains why they cook so rapidly. If you dehydrate your own cooked noodles, they’ll rehydrate quickly in boiling hot water.

3. REFRESH CRACKERS: When crackers get soft or a bit stale, revive them with a stint in your food dryer.

4. HUMIDIFY: A food dryer pulls moisture from food, and blows it into the air. If your house is dry, you can add moisture to the air by dehydrating several plates of water.

5. MASK ODORS: Do you want to get that fishy or deep-frying odor out of your house? Run a few slices of orange, lime, lemon, or grapefruit in the dehydrator for several hours.

6. AROMATHERAPY: You can use your food dryer as an aroma therapy diffuser: use your favorite scented oils and herbs, place them in a small open container, and set it on a rack in the dehydrator for the duration of your aromatherapy treatment.

7. MAKE BREAD CRUMBS: It’s easier to make bread crumbs from old bread if you dry the bread thoroughly before grating it or processing it in a food processor. So, first leave the bread in your food dryer until it gets particularly arid..

8. MAKE POTPOURRI: The sky may be the limit on what you include in your own potpourri. Dry citrus peels, herbs, flower petals, and grasses, then mix them in your own blends.

9. MAKE FIRE STARTERS: Apparently, dried citrus peels contain enough oil that they burn very nicely. When you peel an orange, dry the peels thoroughly and add the finished product to your emergency survival kit.

10. SNACKS FOR YOUR PETS: Buy parts of animals that you’d never eat, such as ears, snouts, and feet. Process them in your food dryer, and they make terrific chew-treats for your dogs.

11. VEGETABLE AND FRUIT POWDER SEASONING: An Indian dish I particularly enjoy calls for mango powder, which isn’t available in stores where I live. I can buy whole mangos, slice them up, and dry them in my food dryer. Then I process them to powder in my food processor and I have mango powder. You can do this with any fruit or vegetable to create great seasonings you can’t buy in a grocery store’s spice section.

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Solar Food Dehydration

Posted By: Daniel Gasteiger  //  Category: food dehydrator

The embeded video shows an industrial-strength solar food dryer. If you’re mechanically inclined, there’s enough in it that you could design and build your own. Of course, you don’t have to go to such extremes to make a solar food dryer. A quick search of the internet can turn up plans for several smaller dryers. The video is only a minute long. Please enjoy it:

Solar Food Dehydration

 

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Basic Beef Jerky

Posted By: Daniel Gasteiger  //  Category: food dehydrator, food dryer, food drying, jerky

Store-bought beef jerky comes in many varieties, and some are very tasty. However, jerky you make at home is likely to be far tastier than any you buy in a store. Today’s post includes a recipe for a simple jerky marinade with instructions for how to make beef jerky in your own food dryer.

Beef Jerky in a Food Dryer

Jerky is heavily-seasoned, dehydrated meat. Seasoning, salt, and sometimes other chemicals combine with dehydration to extend the meat’s shelf life and preserve its nutritional content. You can create a huge variety of seasoning combinations to create dozens of delicious jerky flavors, and making jerky is easy to do.

Historically, people dried meat over a fire or even by hanging it in direct sunlight. You can still do it that way if you wish, but using your oven is safer, and using a dedicated food dryer is even more efficient and less costly.

Considerations for Making Beef Jerky

Start with lean beef. Round steak and flank steak are good choices. Trim off all surface fat, and then put the meat in your freezer for an hour or longer until it becomes firm but not totally frozen.

While the meat cools, prepare the marinade (see box for a relatively standard recipe). You can also make sure your food dryer is clean and ready for use, but you won’t need it for another seven or more hours.

Beef Jerky Marinade for a Home Food Dryer

Use this recipe to marinade 2 pounds of thinly-sliced lean beef.

In a zipper-topped bag, mix 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and a tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Add a quarter teaspoon of ground black pepper, ½ teaspoon of onion powder, ¼ teaspoon of cayenne pepper, a teaspoon of table salt, and a teaspoon of liquid smoke.

Squeeze the bag repeatedly to mix the ingredients well, then add the beef. Kneed the marinade through the beef and then force as much air as you can out of the bag as you zip it closed. Ideally, the bag will seem vacuum-sealed and will cling to the meat it contains.

Store the bag in the refrigerator for 8 to 12 hours before dehydrating the jerky.

Remove the meat from the feezer and slice it very thin—a sixteenth to an eighth of an inch thick—across the grain. If you encounter sections of fat and connective tissue inside the meat, remove them.

Add the sliced meat to the prepared marinade and refrigerate it for six to 12 hours.

Into the Food Dryer

Remove the beef strips from the marinade and let them drain a bit before laying them out on your food dryer’s trays. It’s OK if the strips touch each other, but don’t let them overlap.

If your dehydrator has a temperature knob, set it at 150 degrees Fahrenheit and let the jerky dry for six hours. It’s ready when it’s dark and leathery; if you bend a piece it should crack but not break. If your jerky isn’t dry enough, continue dehydrating it for two more hours and so on until it passes the bending test.

How to Store Beef Jerky

When the jerky is done, turn off the food dryer and let the jerky cool to room temperature. At that point, loosen the pieces of jerky from the dehydrator trays but leave them for another 4 to 6 hours. Then move the jerky to an air tight container and store it in the refrigerator where it will keep for two or three months.

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Making Beef Jerky

Posted By: Daniel Gasteiger  //  Category: food dehydrator, food dryer, jerky

While the embedded video in this post lacks some detail, it shows a simple, practical way to to make beef jerky using your oven a food dryer. If you have a dedicated dehydrator, skip the steps that show how to adapt your oven rack, and load up the trays of the dehydrator. Don’t overlap pieces of sliced meat on the trays; that could result in uneven drying.

If your dehydrator has a temperature setting knob, set it at 160 degrees Fahrenheit.

The video is only 2 and half minutes long. Please enjoy it.

How to Make Beef Jerky

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Preserve and Store Herbs

Posted By: Daniel Gasteiger  //  Category: dry vegetables, food dehydrator

Use a food dryer, or your freezer to preserve herbs. Whether you grow them in your garden, raise them in containers, or buy them fresh from the grocery store, your herbs will never go to waste if you dry them or freeze them for later use

An overgrown basil planter can provide ample clippings. If you don’t use all of them in-season, try dehydrating the extra in a food dryer.

Harvesting Herbs

Harvest herbs to preserve as you’d harvest them to use fresh in cooking. Various authorities differ on the “best” way to harvest—harvest before the plants flower, harvest while they’re flowering… I say, harvest to keep the plants from getting out of control.

More importantly: experiment. You might prefer mature herbs while someone else prefers younger ones. What’s more, it’s not reasonable to generalize for all herbs. Once sage blossoms, for example, its flavor changes distinctively. I haven’t noticed such a change in basil.

Generally, you should harvest stems with leaves attached. Depending on how out-of-control the plants are when you harvest, you may cut off whole branches, or you might cut branches back to where two or three sets of leaves remain. Many herb plants will send out new branches below a cut as long as there are leaves on the remaining sections; basil is a classic example. Other herbs, such as cilantro, have such a short lifespan that you might prefer to harvest much of the plant for its leaves and grow other plants if you want to harvest seeds. (I harvest only the broadest cilantro leaves and leave the remainder of each plant to go to seed.)

Drying Herbs

Rinse the herbs gently to remove soil and insects. Then remove as much water as you can from the herbs. I gather the edges of a clean dish towel to form a sack with the herbs inside and shake it gently for a minute or two.

Lay branches of herbs on the trays of your food dryer. It’s OK if the branches criss-cross on the trays; air will circulate around them adequately. Don’t, however, compress the herbs by pressing them down.

If your food dryer has a temperature control knob, set it at 90 degrees Fahrenheit. The herbs may dry in as little as two or three hours, but don’t remove them from the dehydrator until the stems are brittle and snap when you bend them.

Storing Herbs

Supposedly, herbs will retain top flavor longest if you leave the leaves attached to the stems. I find this terribly inconvenient. Rather, I put the herbs in a blender—if the stems are particularly woody, I pluck and preserve only the dried leaves and discard the stems. If you’ve dried your herbs adequately, you don’t need a blender. Put them in a plastic bag and crumple it in your palm repeatedly.

I try to refill my spice jars during the growing season, and I also store ground dried herbs in zippered plastic bags. Ideally, store herbs in a cabinet or other location where they’ll receive limited or no light, and where the humidity remains low.

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Make Mushroom Chips in your Food Dryer

Posted By: Daniel Gasteiger  //  Category: food dehydrator, food dryer, food drying

I’m not a fan of mushrooms, but like them or not, this video provides a great look at a food dryer in action. All popular convection food dryers use systems of perforated drying trays – some are round as these are, others are rectangular. You can apply the methods shown in this video to many vegetables and fruits as well.

Dried Mushroom Chips

These are plain white mushroom chips made in a food dehydrator. They are great as a snack as is, or can be used in other recipes

Duration : 0:4:47

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Making Chocolate Raisins

Posted By: Daniel Gasteiger  //  Category: food dehydrator

I love the dry humor of this video. It gives you some idea that dehydrating your own produce isn’t rocket science. Still, you can make it as complicated as you like. Takes you through the process of turning a charcoal grill into a food dryer. Please enjoy:

 

From grapes to chocolate raisins. Home built food dehydrator.

Duration : 0:9:58

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