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Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Drying, drying, drying, keep those fruits a drying....

9-Tray Large-Excalibur with 26 hour Timer #3926T
Okay, so it is not here yet. But, a friend is giving me one for a gift. Yessirree! It is an Excalibur. It has a thermostat and a 26 hour timer.

It should be soooo much easier to preserve fruits and vegetables this way. Of course, freezing and canning won't be eliminated entirely.

At Publix, a store here in the South, there is a very expensive dried vegetable snack in the deli that I want to try to duplicate. I cannot afford to buy it, but I have tasted the dried mixture. Everything is all crispy. Mine may not be the same mix of vegetables or the same flavor, but it will be delicious, I know. I want to put some of the dehydrated fruit in a mix that will work for soup, all the things I like and use in my soup.

Even if I freeze some dehydrated fruit, I can use less freezer real estate for dried fruit. I am not entirely comfortable with the fact that it will not mold.

The cheap, $39 Walmart dehydrator that I owned actually scorched some things on the same tray with other items that were still soft and moist. Having a thermostat and timer should solve this problem. Plus, they are sending a book on dehydrating. It did dry zucchini slices to potato-chip-crispiness. Lots of my time was spent rotating trays and rotating food on the trays.

Free fruit or vegetables can be saved and preserved more easily. One year, I picked 250 lbs of pears. Free. I really despise pears! Maybe dried pears will be more palatable. Last year, the hens ate  most of the pears. One year, I made pear preserves and pear sauce. (Like applesauce) Pear sauce is good; pear preserves is delicious.

Dehydrating eggs is one of my goals. People keep warning me that the eggs need to be pasteurized. My thoughts are that if I handle the dried eggs like I do fresh or frozen eggs (like raw chicken), that I will be safe.

Options like sun-drying or drying in the car are there, I know.

The free instructional videos are great and inspiring. Drying sweet potatoes? Well, I have some of the 120 pounds left!

Your turn
Does anyone have any experience with the Excalibur dehydrator? Has anyone dried eggs? Do you have any positive or negative experiences to share?

8 comments:

  1. How exciting! If you get the same book that came with mine, its a very good one. Eggs are not recommended for drying though. I have not done it myself. There is one other resource that might interest you and that is dehydrate 2store. Dig around there for videos. I was able to dry nearly all of my tomatos last year and so frred up a lot of time and personal energy.

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  2. Thanks for the encouragement! I think I will really enjoy the process as it seems less labor-intensive. The freezer is crowded. Canning is hot work.

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  3. Its most definately easier to manage and less straining if you happen to have Fibromyalgia, than large batch canning is. Its also great to have the option. I bought mushrooms on sale in the fall for example. Bought a bunch, dried them and they taste much nicer to me dried. Saved a ton of money with this one gadget!
    This year, I'm setting up a solar drier too. I needed another machine...but decided to go DIY in addition to the Excalibur.

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  4. I read for about 3 hours on dehydrate2store,watched videos, and enjoyed the whole thing. Now, the only problem is that I cannot wear gloves that make my hands damp. If I do, I break out in a terrible rash that takes weeks to go away. In the meanwhile, it itches and I scratch. Oh, I am soooo sanitary with cooking, canning, dehydrating. I am not obsessive; I just know that we are all oily and germy. So that is a real problem.

    The solar method is what I should use. But, the tropical rainforest in N AL would hinder that most of the time. Oh, it's not that way all the time. But, I want to dry anytime I want. AND, the book said not to try to dehydrate when it is humid!

    I am looking forward to saving money, especially drying things like mushrooms that would not be very good frozen, if you can even freeze them.

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  5. You can dehydrate when its humid but you will be waiting a very long time for results. I guess your humidity is worse than mine though. I have things still going well in the cupboard that I dried in humid weather.
    I don't wear gloves either, can't work with them. Just keep your hands as clean as possible, don't fidget with your hair or face, etc. Remember that people have been doing this for many years without gloves, in humidity, etc. Did their food last up to 30years? I doubt it, but it took them to the next harvest. That's my take anyhow and believe me, I'm very paranoid about food safety!
    How long do you plan on storing your food for?

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  6. I, too, am paranoid about food cleanliness. Since my hair ends up in everything, putting a scarf over my head will be a good idea. Hey, I saw hairnets on sale...maybe....

    Maybe I will just keep a bowl with water and soap in it so a quick dip and scrub with a rinse under the faucet will be easy. I am particular about drying on dish towels that I am using for storage. If I use a dish towel on storage items, you can rest assured that my hands were not dried on it or a spill on the counter wiped. Otherwise, I don't worry because I change dishtowels often during the day because the current one is wet or was used to wipe grease or something distasteful.

    I am not planning for any particular length of time for the storage. I just want to take advantage of food that comes my way, food I can forage, food on sale, or leftovers from things that will go bad unless preserved by some method.

    The woman who said to use gloves is preparing for any eventuality in the far future.

    One thing that I am interested in is drying all the makings for a vegetable soup to send, mix style, to my daughter so she can make soup easily, healthfully, and cheaply. She lives in NYC--single mother of teen boy and preteen girl, works, deals with driving little one to school and driving to her job, cooking and cleaning...all with few resources.

    Thanks a lot for helping me think...lol.

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  7. If you have more questions at all, feel free to contact me via the email on my blog. Its a bit nerve racking at first but I think its one of the easiest things to do overall! Fail safe? No. But not alot can go wrong either.
    I have not had one batch of anything spoil, mold or anything else. If you put your food in jars or plastic bags, look for condensation after sealing. If you see any, put the food back and dehydrate a little longer. I dry things beyond some recommended times because they do last longer that way.
    Anyhow, have fun! And don't hesitate to ask me anything. If I don't know the answer, I'll admit it.

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  8. I will be using jars all the time if at all possible. Thanks for the offered help. I will probably have questions. I agree with the overdrying part.

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