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Thread: who has experience with dehydrating and storing veg and fruits?

  1. #1
    no more door to door! :) walkonby's Avatar
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    I wanted to give this dehydrating thing a whirl, so I started small purchasing the $44.00 Salton Vita Pro 5 tray Dehydrator. ( I really wanted the 9 tray Excalibur one, but at $500.00....yikes! )
    We had various citrus that have been exercising their squatting rights in the bottom of the fridge for a while, so my " practice run " was filling all 5 trays with sliced ruby red grapefruit, lemons, and oranges.

    That was at 4:00 p.m. yesterday. They are most definitely smaller and drier, but not quite brittle yet.
    My questions below are to anyone who has personal experience actually doing this because I have watched so many You Tube demos and read so many " Prepper " sites and suggestions that I feel overwhelmed with info now) I would appreciate knowing the pros and cons of your experiences.

    What I am aiming for is to store my various dehydrated things in my many empty Mason jars. ( I am planning on doing up bell peppers, carrots, celery, onions, garlic, spinach, kale, broccoli, cauliflower, squashes, potatoes....o.k. I have huge plans because over time I also want to do apples and cranberries, but no bananas or I'd eat them all )

    Questions

    1. Do I really HAVE to buy and use those oxygen packet thingy's in the jars? How long could my dried things stay edible and useable in the jars if I do not use them?

    2. Does un-screwing the lid to take a handful of each thing out to make a dish compromise the remaining dried foods in the jars?

    3. Other than decorative/craft ideas, or adding the citrus slices to a beverage are there other things you have used dried sliced lemon/orange/lime or grapefruit in?

    4. Have you noticed an impact on your hydro bill using your dehydrator? I am looking at the recommended drying times here for some things can be very long ( 20 hrs in some cases )

    5. Have you used your dehydrator to free up freezer space? for eg: drying out bags of store bought frozen peas, beans?

    6. The suggestion of placing certain foods into boiling water for a minute or two before dehydrating, have you found that step to be a must for optimal texture and flavour once the food is rehydrated in a meal?

    Anything else you can think of that might be important to know that could avoid me making costly errors would be appreciated.
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  2. #2
    no more door to door! :) walkonby's Avatar
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    ha ha! joke is on me I guess....80 people read this but no one posted anything yet, o.k. I'll be patient
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    lol waiting on answers too.
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    Canadian Genius Crochetlady's Avatar
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    me too
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    Sith Lady and Cool Kid Darth Penguin's Avatar
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    Short answer : no Long answer : NOOOOOOOOOOO!

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    I know (but drat, can't remember who) someone on the Frugal thread does it - hope you don't mind, I left a message there with a link to your thread - hopefully they will see it and post here

    http://forum.smartcanucks.ca/393682-...8/#post6143036
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    Canadian Genius Crochetlady's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Natalka View Post
    I know (but drat, can't remember who) someone on the Frugal thread does it - hope you don't mind, I left a message there with a link to your thread - hopefully they will see it and post here

    http://forum.smartcanucks.ca/393682-...8/#post6143036
    I think it`s Sassyashley
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    Ok so speaking of dehydrating we just did 40 lbs of ginger .

    We have this one 9 trays love it.

    http://www.ebay.ca/itm/like/36063949...=true&lpid=116

    We paid $249 I think 2 years ago.

    So far we have done apples, bananas, onions, jalapenos, pepper, tomatoes, basil, ginger. We grind a lot of this to make spices and they last a long time. I find that grinding the onions though they do still have humidity in them so I tried putting dried beans in the jars with it. that works but what I am doing now is only grinding what I need. I did shrink wrap some apples in that machine but they really don't need it. As long as they do not get too humid they last forever.


    I will tackle your questions one by one although may not be very helpful.

    Questions

    1. Do I really HAVE to buy and use those oxygen packet thingy's in the jars? How long could my dried things stay edible and useable in the jars if I do not use them?

    You don't have to but make sure everything is really dry , sometimes 48 hours. Use dries beans to absorb moisture. Poweders regain some moisture, but whole pieces stay dry longer.

    2. Does un-screwing the lid to take a handful of each thing out to make a dish compromise the remaining dried foods in the jars?

    I store all my spices in mason jars they do not go bad so far. We have had some for over a year.

    3. Other than decorative/craft ideas, or adding the citrus slices to a beverage are there other things you have used dried sliced lemon/orange/lime or grapefruit in?

    Never tried dried citrus yet. But now I am thinking dried citrus then powdered would make a nice tea. That's what I do with most of my ginger.


    4. Have you noticed an impact on your hydro bill using your dehydrator? I am looking at the recommended drying times here for some things can be very long ( 20 hrs in some cases )

    Sorry have not kept track of this. Some things take 48 hours to dry

    5. Have you used your dehydrator to free up freezer space? for eg: drying out bags of store bought frozen peas, beans?

    No not yet.

    6. The suggestion of placing certain foods into boiling water for a minute or two before dehydrating, have you found that step to be a must for optimal texture and flavour once the food is rehydrated in a meal?

    Not done this yet either.

    Anything else you can think of that might be important to know that could avoid me making costly errors would be appreciated.
    Peppers regain moisture through the air( yellow, red, green sweet peppers) if you dry these keep them in pieces then if you want to make a powder do it as needed.
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    no more door to door! :) walkonby's Avatar
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    Thank you very much Natalka for asking around, should hear something soon.
    Patty those were great tips and thank you about the 48 hour drying time thing, I was getting worried with the citrus as it had passed the 28 hour mark and some grapefruit were still moist in the centres.
    Last night I sliced/diced up the 10 carrots, 3 bell peppers, and a container of mushrooms that were the lonely last occupants of the veggies in the fridge and started my second batch at 8:30 p.m. Wanted to do the broccoli that was there too but no space on the trays.
    By 5:00 a.m. today most of the diced carrots had already shrunk down and fell through to the bottom...they are so teensy! With that shrinkage and rearranging all the the dried up shroom/pepper pieces left me with 2 empty trays available to place more stuff on!!
    I placed these two new " wet " foods trays on the bottom ( green beans and more sliced apples ) as I figured the worst that can happen is the drier stuff up top of it may get moistened again, but eventually I guess they will all shrivel up.
    DH took a piece of the lemon and plopped it into his tea last night and said it tasted really good, also he chewed a slice of the Ruby Red grapefruit and said this helped take the bitterness out of the stuff, they were actually quite tasty, like eating a candy.

    I very much appreciate you posting Patty, oh and yes about your dehydrator, the 9 tray Excalibur one I wanted was $499.99 but I think it is all stainless steel trays and sides........( a girl can dream! ) I eventually had to come to my senses and hit WM for the cheapo Salton one.
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  10. #10
    Must Coupon, Must Save :) SassyAshley's Avatar
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    I have dehydrated so many things so far, I am kind of obsessed. I live in a household of 2 people with ever changing schedules so I use our dehydrator to make sure we have little to no waste but do not have over flowing freezers either. So far I have dehydrated:
    Onions
    Garlic
    Ginger
    Cherries (OH MY these were SO GOOD)
    Pineapple
    Strawberry Fruit Leather
    Bagel Chips
    Mushrooms
    Celery
    Many Herbs (Basil, Parsley, Oregano, Tyme)

    One of my huge obsession is powders, I have turned a large portion of my dried mushrooms and celery into powder so it can be added for flavour to soups and sauces. Celery powder is great as it adds a salt flavour without adding salt. Also powders are wonderful for adding flavour without adding texture, or moisture.

    Your questions:
    1. Do I really HAVE to buy and use those oxygen packet thingy's in the jars? How long could my dried things stay edible and useable in the jars if I do not use them?
    I have never purchased those packs and I have had some items in jars for about 6 months now and they are still as good as the day I put them in the jar.

    2. Does un-screwing the lid to take a handful of each thing out to make a dish compromise the remaining dried foods in the jars?
    I have not had any issues, some things have been in jars for 6 months we open them once a week or so to take some out the remaining food is fine as long as the jar is not left open for an extended period of time (hour or more).

    3. Other than decorative/craft ideas, or adding the citrus slices to a beverage are there other things you have used dried sliced lemon/orange/lime or grapefruit in?
    So far I have only used it to make hot beverages or I did make a lemon powder using just zest which I add to dips to add a lemon flavour.

    4. Have you noticed an impact on your hydro bill using your dehydrator? I am looking at the recommended drying times here for some things can be very long ( 20 hrs in some cases )
    I have not noticed anything but the way I look at it this running or the oven running, this is much cheaper to run and does not in the summer months heat the house the way the oven does.

    5. Have you used your dehydrator to free up freezer space? for eg: drying out bags of store bought frozen peas, beans?
    Yes totally use to free up freezer space but I have not tried store bought foods but more so drying fresh products instead of freezing them. This way instead of freezing them I dry them and save my freezer space for things like meats and breads.

    6. The suggestion of placing certain foods into boiling water for a minute or two before dehydrating, have you found that step to be a must for optimal texture and flavour once the food is rehydrated in a meal?
    I have not tried this yet as I have not dried anything yet that they recommend boiling first and since I turn most things into powders this would not work for me as it make it harder to grind into powder.
    Check out my Crochet Blog http://ashleysassycreations.weebly.com/ showing all my wonderful projects

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    no more door to door! :) walkonby's Avatar
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    Ashley!! Thanks for taking the time to answer my queries. I feel so much better about not having to buy any oxygen packs and that I just use out of the jar what I need per recipe as I need. I am looking forward to claiming some of my limited freezer space back for things we really need to put in there. This is very simple once all the washing, chopping and prep is done, the space the food takes up in the jars in minimal so that will also give me extra storage. This machine is so quiet too, so far so good. Thanks again!!
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    Wow,I'm feeling like I need one of these. I have only dried citrus for decoration and a friend had a one that I borrowed. He used it for making jerky. I'm so kicking myself for not buying one I saw in value village a while back. I could have taken advantage of some of my pc pts in the summer.
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    Cat Trainer (Trainee??) Andit's Avatar
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    Can't really answer your questions, since I use mine for doggy treats (we know where my priorities lie). I've dehydrated banana chips (slice thinly, I make them crunchy so they last longer - had some I forgot about for 3 months, they were fine). I also make liver treats (pan fry liver, slice thinly, then dehydrate overnight til crunchy) - all the critters I know love these, canine & feline. I tried making fruit roll-ups in the summer with raspberries that had gone soft (overflow from my friend's garden) but I was not impressed (followed a recipe that said to add sugar and found them too sweet) - on the other hand, Lily dog had fruit treats. Oh & I have used it to dry out slices of bread to make into breadcrumbs - took less than 2 hrs.

    Think I should probably try to use it for human treats, not just brat food (who am I kidding ).
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    no more door to door! :) walkonby's Avatar
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    Hi Andit, you know what? I think I might just try that liver recipe for my pooches as well as Lynn49's suggestion of sweet potato.
    I have nothing but time now, so might as well!!
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  15. #15
    Never stop learning... Big Pink's Avatar
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    My dehydrator is running pretty much all the time. I haven't noticed any significant increase in my hydro bill. I'm also thinking if your citrus isn't crispy in 24 hours, you might be cutting it too thick.

    I don't use oxygen packets unless a jar is full and it isn't something that is going to be opened on a regular basis. For something used regularly (as well as long term in combination with the absorbers) I do use a FoodSaver with an accessory port to seal the jars:
    http://theharriedhomemakerpreps.blog...expensive.html
    Since there are limitless things that can be dehydrated, the FoodSaver allows you to vacuum seal any overage as well in bags... I only have space for so many jars. BTW, I have bought half a dozen (or more) vacuum sealers that are the smaller version at thrift stores, and they just don't work properly, IMO. I am referring to the type that are a clamshell style. The type in the link, above, are considerably more expensive but worth it in my experience.

    I will also note if you are concerned about storage space in your freezer... taking packaging off of meat and vacuum sealing saves a ton of space... not to mention extends the life of whatever you are freezing. I now feel confident to stock up when meat is on clearance... I just bring it home and seal it up.

    Whether or not you use oxygen absorbers or vacuum sealing for canning... at the end of the day it depends how long you want to store your items.

    As Terry mentioned, both dehydrators and vacuum sealers show up at thrift stores and garage sales regularly... or for a bit more money, you can check Kijiji.
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