Author Topic: share experiences/thoughts on food dehydrators?  (Read 1702 times)

lentil

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share experiences/thoughts on food dehydrators?
« on: June 17, 2019, 11:13:03 AM »
I'm looking ahead to backpacking season, and once again thinking about the pros and cons of dehydrating some of my own backpacking meals. As much as I'd love to eat meals similar what I eat at home, I have reservations about the time/space/effort involved in dehydrating meals (and potential waste, depending on how long the meals I make could be stored?). I've never even used a food dehydrator, so I'm hesitant to invest a lot in a new appliance that might not get used frequently.

Anyone have experience with using food dehydrators and want to talk about it? Is it something you find yourself using all the time, or does that fancy dehydrator spend most of its time in a cabinet? Resources to recommend to someone trying to learn more? Other thoughts?

Thanks!

Cranky

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Re: share experiences/thoughts on food dehydrators?
« Reply #1 on: June 17, 2019, 04:03:55 PM »
I bought mine at the thrift store and use it every summer for tomatoes, apples, and herbs. I like it a lot, but I donít know what Iíd use it for that is backpacking related.

SlowlyButSurely

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Re: share experiences/thoughts on food dehydrators?
« Reply #2 on: June 17, 2019, 08:33:58 PM »
I bought a dehydrator when I started backpacking a few years ago, and I really like it. I'm a vegetarian, so the number of commercially available options is somewhat limited, plus I just like having food that I made. I'm actually using it right now it to make "seitan jerkey" to have as a high-protein snack when I'm travelling next week.

That said, I don't use it a whole lot, because most years I don't get in that many nights on the trail :(. So it does spend a good bit of time gathering dust. If you're ambivalent, maybe try buying one on Craigslist and selling it again if you decide it's not worth it.

SlowlyButSurely

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Re: share experiences/thoughts on food dehydrators?
« Reply #3 on: June 18, 2019, 12:25:36 AM »
Do you know anyone who has one you could borrow? You could probably dehydrate enough meals in a week to give you a sense of whether it's something you would want to keep doing.

lentil

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Re: share experiences/thoughts on food dehydrators?
« Reply #4 on: June 18, 2019, 07:25:55 AM »
That's a great idea, thanks!

We're vegetarian too, and although I can find some commercial meals, the better ones come with a lot of sticker shock! I've got a few tried-and-tested recipes made from fast-cooking things (minute rice and black bean flakes, etc.), but the idea of expanding our options is pretty tempting.

bognish

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Re: share experiences/thoughts on food dehydrators?
« Reply #5 on: June 19, 2019, 01:34:32 AM »
We have a cheap dehydrator, hand me down from my inlaw that is probably 30+ years old. It works just fine, but sits in the basement 11 months out of the year. We only really use our dehydrator when we have a surplus of fruit from trees or berries in our yard. We make fruit leather (i.e. fruit roll ups) from plums, apricots etc. Dehydrating whole vegies to recook into meals just doesn't seem too appealing.

I find it easy enough to find dry food at the normal grocery or Asian market for back packing that I would never thing of trying to make my own.

AMandM

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Re: share experiences/thoughts on food dehydrators?
« Reply #6 on: June 19, 2019, 08:07:02 AM »
There's a thread on this topic in the DIY forum:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/do-it-yourself-forum!/producing-my-own-trekking-food/

Having tried it once, I'm enthusiastic. But don't spend a lot of money on a fancy dehydrator. I got mine for $5 at a yard sale.

herbgeek

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Re: share experiences/thoughts on food dehydrators?
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2019, 06:26:42 AM »
I second finding a used one.  I use mine once a year during harvest time, and the rest of the time it sits in the basement.  Make sure to get one with a fan and different heat settings (I use the lowest one for herbs, the highest one for meats and somewhere in the middle for vegetables). 

That said, I use supermarket foods a lot for camping, like the Knorr rice mixes and add additional vegetables.  There are several sites out there for "freezer bag cooking" that may give you some additional recipe ideas.  A lot of those are with commercially available foods as part of the recipes (like dried fruit and couscous).  I'm not normally big on commercial foods (additives, salt, calories) but I'm also lazy so occasionally willing to incorporate them.

Linea_Norway

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Re: share experiences/thoughts on food dehydrators?
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2019, 08:07:09 AM »
There's a thread on this topic in the DIY forum:
https://forum.mrmoneymustache.com/do-it-yourself-forum!/producing-my-own-trekking-food/

Having tried it once, I'm enthusiastic. But don't spend a lot of money on a fancy dehydrator. I got mine for $5 at a yard sale.

We have invested in a Excalibur food dryer with 9 trays. But I also know of people who make dried trekking food in a very small dryer that can only dry food for 1 meal at the time. I use my machine very often, as I also dry plants and mushrooms from spring to autumn. I appreciate the machine. I can vary the temperature and program the time. And it has a lot of space. When I use half the amount of trays, I can also dry more bulky stuff.

For the process of drying trekking food, I usually have some long days after normal working days, maybe up to a week, to produce 15 meals. I make a variety of ingredients and then make meals out of it. And then dry some more stuff if I don't have enough of each vegetable. I seldom have too much, apart from a bunch of minced meat once. You can also put dried ingredients, or whole dried meals in the freezer, so you are sure it won't get spoiled.

For vegetarians: you can use cooked beans or lentils, turn them into a puree and dry them on a drying sheet. Sauce can also be dried on a drying sheet, after thickening it as much as you can on the stove. Vegetables are just cut very small and precooked for a while, before drying.

I use normal food from the shops for pasta/rice/mashed potatoes, all very short-cook stuff. And for sauce, I usually use brown sauces and cheese sauces from packs, but make tomato sauce myself. Keep in mind that you shouldn't dry ingredients with fat in then. That won't stay well very long.

It is important that your dryer supports that you put some form of sheet on the trays. You can replace official sheets (from Excalibur) by using baking sheets. I use el cheapo anto stick sheets for ovens.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2019, 08:09:00 AM by Linea_Norway »

Ynari

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Re: share experiences/thoughts on food dehydrators?
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2019, 08:16:04 AM »
We only use a dehydrator for backpacking food, so we either borrow one or throw together a box fan version, depending on what's easiest.

Frequently, we just dehydrate whatever's in the fridge before we go. One trip I had mushrooms and daikon - dehydrated that, and smashed it up into relatively small pieces. Mixed with a bouillon cube and instant rice and it was a winner of a meal. But you can also buy already dehydrated mushrooms, so it's more of a cost/convenience thing.

International markets are typically good for dehydrated food - but always test it out before you go! I bought some dehydrated vegetable (I think it was a zucchini-like vegetable, but not zucchini) and expected to just throw it into a dish like I would any dehydrated vegetable. I think I called the resulting dish "martian food"... I'm sure that vegetable rehydrates and cooks up great, but I did not know how to do it!

 

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