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PostPosted: November 19th, 2007, 12:03 am 
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Location: Montreal, QC
Hey, I have never dehydrated any foods in my life, but it sounds very useful. The last trip that I went on with friends we had a food barrel that weighed a ton because we wanted fruit, so we brought a boatload of canned fruits. for every supper over the course of 6 days.

Anyway, my questions are:

Is a dehydrator the only method of dehydrating food properly?

How much water/time does it take to rehydrate foods, and is it possible to over hydrate foods?

What kinds of food dehydrate well, and how long do dehydrated foods keep for?


Thanks alot.


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PostPosted: November 19th, 2007, 12:04 am 
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Oh, forgot to add, how much do dehydrators cost for a decent dehydrator?


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PostPosted: November 19th, 2007, 6:02 am 
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Joined: August 19th, 2001, 7:00 pm
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Location: Simcoe, Ontario Canada
You will never regret buying a food dehydrator and although it may be a bit intimidating to get started it is actually extremely easy to make awesome, healthy meals at a very reasonable price.

You can use your oven to dehydrate foods but I would highly recommend purchasing a dehydrator or if you are handy, try making one. I purchased an American Harvester, Snackmaster several years ago, it was not expensive ... I think that I paid about $75.00 for it and it is still going strong. If you do purchase one make sure you get one with a circulating fan and an adjustable temperature control. American Harvester is available at many retailers, including Sears and Home Hardware.

Rehydration time will vary but you really don't need to worry to much about the time - you really can't screw things up that bad. Most of our "meals" soak for 30 minutes, then we bring them to a boil and simmer for 30 minutes. As far as the amount of water, again, I don't get too wound up about it. I either follow the recipe, or use less than i think is required and then gradually add more water to thicken.

"Mary Bell's Complete Dehydrator Cookbook" will answer virtually every question you have about dehydrating and there are many cookbooks out there for meals on the trail or water. We have several but the one we use most is called The Wilderness Cookbook by Bonnie McTaggart, Jill Bryant & Chum McCleod. The instructions are very easy to follow and the ingredients are readily availble (even in Simcoe, ON).

If you like things like hummus and dips, they are extremely easy to do and we have actually dehydrated them and have used them as gifts for friends.

If you use the search function at the top of the page and also go to the Food and Recipes tab above, you will find all kinds of advice and tips.

*******, one of the posters here has a written a recipe book that many people are feverishly waiting for. One of her recipes: Citrus Lentile Salad is one of the current topics ... kinda like Fatal Attraction ... it won't die .

:lol:

Bob

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Last edited by maddogbob on November 19th, 2007, 6:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: November 19th, 2007, 6:12 am 
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You've already found the correct forum to find out a lot of information about dehydrating. I think a lot of your questions will be answered by reading the threads already posted in the 24 pages of this forum. (Saves you the hassle of using the "search" function.)

Also, you can check out the "Food and Recipes" section up above. /\ /\ /\


Barbara

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PostPosted: November 19th, 2007, 7:04 am 
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If it can be dehydrated I've probably tried it. I go through all of this in my book but I don't mind answering the questions here. Mary Bell's book is an excellent resource too.

Quote:
Is a dehydrator the only method of dehydrating food properly?


No you can use your oven for most foods. That said the oven wastes a lot of energy and can have hot spots. You can air dry and sun dry many foods but a food dehydrator is the best and most economical method.

Quote:
How much water/time does it take to rehydrate foods, and is it possible to over hydrate foods?


Water and time vary greatly as maddogbob mentioned. However I take a different approach. Simmering for 30 minutes means you have to take a lot more fuel - and more fuel equals more pack weight. I boil water - put the water and my dried food in a wide-mouth 1 litre Nalgene or my pot and then put that in a cozy. I just reheat once full hydration takes place. Saving fuel weight (which includes saving the weight of extra fuel bottles) is important to me as I am a hiker as well as a paddler... plus I have an MSR Dragonfly - which is a little on the noisy side so if I can reduce the cooking time I also increase the quiet time. :)

Something like chicken will take an hour to rehydrate. Hummus and coleslaw I usually do in a ziplock with cold water and they rehydrate in 5 minutes. So it really is dependant on the ingredients, size of the pieces and how long you dried the food for. The Citrus Lentil Salad... sorry Bob - couldn't resist (Bob you should try it - makes an excellent lunch ;)) can be rehydrated with cold water. Sometimes I start rehydration at breakfast with cold water (in a leakproof container) and toss it in my pack - then there is no fuss at lunch.

Water needed is greatly related to the food, how long it was dried and the original water content. If you haven't done measurements and recorded them prior to drying then you should start with a 1:1 ratio of water to food. There area exceptions but this does work well enough. It is always better to err on the side of less water than too much as you can always add more water as hydration progresses. If you have too much water and drain it off you also drain off nutrients and flavor.

It is possible to over-hydrate some foods that you have dried... coleslaw, rice and pasta are the worst offenders. Everything else is pretty good though.

Quote:
What kinds of food dehydrate well, and how long do dehydrated foods keep for?


This forum doesn't have enough space to list what dries well so better for me to tell you what doesn't dry well.

Very hot peppers with a Scoville rating above 35,000 - while they dry well they will irritate your nasal passages and lungs - I learned this the hard way. Best to dry these as part of a meal and not a solitary ingredient.

Sour cream and cottage cheese. Once again dry these as part of a meal and not a solitary ingredient.

Anything over run with fat... deli meats and that sort of thing.

Dried foods will last without flavor loss for about 6 months in a cool dark place. Light is the enemy. I toss mine in the freezer and get 8 months to a year of shelf life. There are exceptions. Meals containing sweet potatoes should only be kept for 2 to 3 months as there is significant flavor loss after that.

Hope this helps. If you have any other questions please let me know.


Last edited by Laurie March on November 19th, 2007, 8:38 am, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: November 19th, 2007, 7:15 am 
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mcthiel wrote:
Oh, forgot to add, how much do dehydrators cost for a decent dehydrator?


Best model, in my opinion, is the Nesco FD75 PR. You can purchase this from www.LondonDrugs.ca and the price is about $90. Mine has been through more than a year of excessive use (hundreds of recipes done 2 to 3 times each).

Here is my review on this particular model.

http://www.outdooradventurecanada.com/d ... review.htm

You can go with more expensive models such as Excalibur or L'Equip but you don't really need to. If you are buying new or used there are some brands to stay away from - a brand called Deni unless you want to take days to dehydrate your food. Ronco and Mr. Coffee are both very slow.

Be sure to buy a model with the thermostat (you want the high end to be at least 155ºF and top or side fan models are a bit better. You also want something that is rated 500W or greater.


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PostPosted: November 19th, 2007, 8:44 am 
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Here is an excellent article, written by my friend Christine, for people about to try dehydrating their foods for the first time.

http://www.*******/dehydrophobia.htm


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PostPosted: November 19th, 2007, 10:58 am 
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Location: toronto, Ontario canada
maddogbob wrote:
You will never regret buying a food dehydrator


I've had one for 10+ years. It has paid for itself over and over again. I'm a one-pot camper most of the time. I don't get near as involved as WC does with meals. My home made dehydrated meals are cheaper and lighter than store bought ones.

On anything more than a weekend trip I don't like to pack water that isn't for drinking.


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PostPosted: November 19th, 2007, 11:14 am 
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flyrod wrote:
I don't get near as involved as WC does with meals.


Don't assume too much flyrod... :wink: I may cook the meal at home and sometimes I use a variety of ingredients - but most of my meals on a trip only require rehydration and heating. Easy peasy. Baking is a whole other thing though.


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PostPosted: November 19th, 2007, 3:44 pm 
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Location: Montreal, QC
Thank you all for the quick replies.

My only other question is how long do fruits, veggies, and meats last without refrigeration after being dehydrated, and do they taste the same after being re hydrated, or is there a big difference?

thanks.


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PostPosted: November 19th, 2007, 4:13 pm 
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Location: toronto, Ontario canada
mcthiel wrote:
Thank you all for the quick replies.

My only other question is how long do fruits, veggies, and meats last without refrigeration after being dehydrated, and do they taste the same after being re hydrated, or is there a big difference?

thanks.


They last for months. I have some in my cupboard that haven't gone bad or fuzzy.

I wouldn't re-hydrate fruit, just eat it dried like a fig or a prune or apricot. It all tastes like dried fruit. If you're expecting to end up with an orange you can peel or fruit cocktail from the can, you're going to be dissapointed.

It all pretty much tastes the same after being re-hydrated, when we're talking about veggies. I don't pack meat when I camp, well sometimes when I can count on God's fridge.

I make one pot meals. Stews & sauces. The final product tastes just like how it did on the stove.


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PostPosted: November 19th, 2007, 4:27 pm 
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mcthiel wrote:
Thank you all for the quick replies.

My only other question is how long do fruits, veggies, and meats last without refrigeration after being dehydrated, and do they taste the same after being re hydrated, or is there a big difference?

thanks.


Most foods pretty much taste the same. I remember the first time I dried and rehydrated spaghetti sauce I made Bryan do a blind taste test with sauce from the pot and the rehydrated sauce. He couldn't tell the difference. The one thing is that hot spices do seem to lessen after drying and rehydrating a meal and fruits get sweeter because their sugars concentrate when you remove the water.


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PostPosted: November 20th, 2007, 8:03 pm 
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I just wanted to add that I found the Nesco FD-75PR at costco.ca for 70$, best price I found so far. The Costcos around Montreal dont seem to carry it, so you do have to order it from the website, which is another 10$ s&h.

Also wanted to give a big up props to WC, I love reading your posts on anything related to food. Good to hear there's a book out there.


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PostPosted: November 21st, 2007, 6:21 am 
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gcc_mtl wrote:
I just wanted to add that I found the Nesco FD-75PR at costco.ca for 70$, best price I found so far. The Costcos around Montreal dont seem to carry it, so you do have to order it from the website, which is another 10$ s&h.

Also wanted to give a big up props to WC, I love reading your posts on anything related to food. Good to hear there's a book out there.


wow! that is a great price! thanks for sharing that gcc_mtl - it's also the same unit the authors of Lipsmackin' Backpackin' use

thanks - I'm a little passionate (or maybe obsessed is a better word) about food - so much so that book 2 is already in the works


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PostPosted: November 26th, 2007, 2:51 pm 
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I have used the Excalibur 5-tray model and it works very well. I have only compared it to the Mr. Coffee machine but as WC stated the Mr.C. is extremely slow and the trays are cumbersome.

******: I have never put my dried meals in the freezer but it sounds like a great idea. Do you get any problems with condensation and hence increased moisture content?


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