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Food drying
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Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Food drying on 02/02/2007 06:35:49 MST Print View

Is it possible to dry food in my oven or do i need a food dehydrator?

If so, how do i dry food in my oven?

Eins

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Food drying on 02/02/2007 08:12:33 MST Print View

Easily! Just do the drying on lined cookie trays (parchment paper works well, it is what you use for baking) Use your oven on it's lowest setting, stir your food every hour, and if possible, keep the door propped open just a crack (with a wooden spoon) to circulate air.
I have some drying info on my site that might help:
http://www.freezerbagcooking.com/gearstuff.htm

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Food drying on 02/02/2007 08:55:27 MST Print View

I've made meat Jerky which has come out truly excellent as well as dried fruit (which left a WHOLE lot to be desired) in a small toaster oven. I just lined the bottom with foil & placed the food to be dried right upon the oven rack which was pre-sprayed with PAM (you could coat it with oil also to prevent the dried food from sticking). Yeah, some drips onto the heating element, burns, smells & might(???) set off the smoke detector (take the batt. out of the detector first if you think that's a problem). I'd prefer to get more air circulation around the food being dried rather than turn it over. The foil lining the bottom of the toaster oven is easy to through away after, Of course, i'm left with a burned mess on the heating element to clean afterwards, but that's my preference. Sarbar's approach is undoubtedly more sound. I'm a "drying" neophyte compared to her.

I usually set the oven to 150F or LOWER - protein denatures/cooks at ~140F (the toaster oven never gets quite that hot due to the door being partially ajar). Too high and you will carmelize (i.e., burn essentially) any sugars that may have been in a meat marinade or naturally present in fruit - 180F is DEFINITELY TOO hot.

The oven door should be ajar as Sarbar says - this detail is very important, even though it makes the family pets sniff the air and salivate (just another mess for me to clean up)!

Daniel Goldenberg
(dag4643)

Locale: Pacific Northwet
Re: Re: Food drying on 02/02/2007 09:09:08 MST Print View

I've got a small toaster oven with a convection setting. Basically there is a small fan that circulates the air inside. I wonder if this would work? Or does a door need to be open to remove moisture?

Thomas Knighton
(Tomcat1066) - F

Locale: Southwest GA
Re: Re: Re: Food drying on 02/02/2007 09:14:58 MST Print View

I'm not really brushed up on this stuff, but I don't see why the door would have to be open if there is a fan. After all, from what I can tell, the quality dehydrators all seem to basically be a heating element, a fan, and an enclosed space. That said, it's possible it's not as tight a close as a toaster oven.

Tom

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Food drying on 02/02/2007 10:13:08 MST Print View

Depends upon how your circulation fan works in your circulation/convection oven. If it's merely recirc-ing oven air, then i'd opt to leave the door slightly ajar. If it's actually exchanging oven air w/ambient room air, then it's unecessary.

My wife has a full-sized convection range. Since i don't know whether it exchanges air w/amb. room air, i leave the door a ajar while using the 'Convection Roast' setting (vs. the 'Convection Bake' setting). I've also dried larger quantities of food in the full sized range, but more usually just use the non-convection toaster oven.

Maybe i'm wrong, but i don't think our full-sized convection range exchanges oven air w/amb. room air. Why? I would think that the whole house would rapidly be permeated with the aroma of whatever it is that we are baking or roasting when the convection modes are utilized. The house smells no more quickly of the food in the oven when we use convection vs. non-convection oven modes. Hence, my guess at no air exchange. Also, and again i'm guessing/reasoning things out loud here, wouldn't it be less efficient to have to reheat amb. room air constantly, instead of just recirc-ing already heated oven air? So perhaps logic(???) agrees w/my nose on this point, i.e. no air xchange in our full-sized convection oven.

If the owner's manual doesn't reveal this particular of your oven's operation, and your "nose" doesn't tell you either, then i'd opt to leave the door slightly ajar.

My only experience w/food dehydrators was an el-cheapo one which utilized natural (i.e. unforced) convection and so was NOT sealed, but was rather open to the amb. room air in order to establish unforced convection.

Keeping the door shut on a sealed convection oven might slow slightly drying times due to the build up of moisture in the sealed oven - desirable if Roasting perhaps(??? - i'll defer to Sarbar on this point), but perhaps not when drying. Isn't moisture the antithesis of drying?!! Perhaps this is becoming too theoretical & really doesn't, in practice, affect much. I don't know. Sarbar or L.M. can prob. give you a definitive ans.

Edited by pj on 02/02/2007 10:17:14 MST.

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: Food drying on 02/02/2007 12:22:45 MST Print View

Hi Sarah,

I posted this question after reading your site from A to Z. I didn't find any info on drying food in an oven, hence the question. I might get a credit card soon and when i do i'll try to get a copy of your book. I love cookbooks and hiking and a cookbook combining the two is like a dream.

About your site. You give some info on drying vegetables, mushrooms to be exact. It seems you're drying them raw. It seems to me that after rehydration the vegetables will also be raw. Ok, you do add warm water so the vegetables will be cooked as well.

Having never dried anything myself, i'm thinking of making my own food for the only hike i'll have time for this year (easter three days). I have some instant noodles and the other day i want to use couscous. I'm thinking of taking a can of tuna (heavy, but yummi) and i also want some veggies in my diners. I would think that making a mix of peppers (paprika) mushrooms and egg plant (or sth like that) and frying them before drying would give a better result than drying uncooked foods. Can you give soem more info?

Thanks for the replies so far. I have a really simple oven with no fans. The door doesn't make a tight seal at all. I'll keep my door ajar (just learned a new word). I'm wondering if ripping out a computer fan and positioning that in between my oven door would help? If so should it suck warm air out or should it blow cool air in? My gut feeling tells me it's better to suck air away since you want to get rid of moisture.

Thank all, Eins

David Wills
(willspower3) - F
Re: Food drying on 02/02/2007 12:27:44 MST Print View

My roommate puts food between 2 home airfilters and then on top of an elevated box fan. The jerky that came out was quite amazing. It still had a little bit of moisture left in it, which added lots of taste. It was also very tender by jerky standards.

I'll stick with my Nesco though.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Re: Food drying on 02/02/2007 15:45:04 MST Print View

As David above points out, you can do what is called the "Alton Brown Good Eats" dryer using a box fan and filters. works well actually.

On the convection oven: I recently got one, but I haven't used it to dry anything!
Thanks for reminding me I need to add more to the site about drying with an oven. Lazy me!
Ok, on drying veggies:
If you use frozen vegetables, all you have to do is spread them out frozen, and let them dry. Frozen is precooked also, so great for backpacking! All you need is to add boiling water and let sit for 10-15 minutes and they come back.
Mushrooms and very thinly shredded items like carrots: I don't precook them, as I cut them very, very thin. They seem to do their thing when combined with boiling water.

If you buy veggies such as Just Veggies, the freeze dried ones, they are precooked.

And yep, cooking and drying vegetable blends is really good! Comes back tasty! And really good with pasta.

Which, if you precook at home, and then dry, becomes basically instant pasta. Just cut short the cooking by a couple minutes, as the sit in boiling water finishes it up.

And hey, don't worry about your oven, fancy or not, it'll get your job done!

Einstein, not to advertise myself, but I do take checks and money orders by mail also :-)

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: Re: Re: Re: Food drying on 02/03/2007 04:31:35 MST Print View

David, Sarah,

I did take a look at drying with a boxfan (i did have to google for pictures to know what it is). The thing is I don't want to spend any money on any outdoor related gear at the moment because i quite like to see my girlfriend and doing so means i have to fly half way accross Europe once a month. Next to that i'm also trying to save money for moving to her country later this year (hopefully).

So i'm trying to use what i have at the moment to accomodate my hiking, which isn't that hard since i have accumalated enough outdoor the last years to equip about three people at the same time.

Sarah, thanks for confirming my idea of first cooking than drying. I guess i'll make a couscous dish next week, see how it tastes and if i like it, to dry it for the next hike.

BTW, you mention on your website that one of the benefits of drying your own food is that it costs less than buying dried meals. However in my local outdoor shop these meals (one person versions) sell for about € 5,- which is like $ 6. Now if i cook a meal for myself, say saté ajam (chicken with peanut sauce), the chicken costs about € 2, a package of mixed chinese vegetables € 1.5, the add-water sate sauce € 0.89. That's € 4.39, add to that the olive oil, lotst of spices, sambal (chili paste) and the rice, i'm already almost at those € 5 of the meals i can buy. Than off course your oven has to dry the food over an 8 to 12 hour period. It would seem to me that will cost a whole lot of electricity.

The food will taste better off course, so that's a big plus.

Can't wait to start cooking.

Eins

Thomas Knighton
(Tomcat1066) - F

Locale: Southwest GA
dry food costs on 02/03/2007 05:34:03 MST Print View

Einstein,

You mentioned the costs of commericially prepared food versus drying yourself. And yep, for a one shot, it's probably cheaper to buy the commercially done stuff. But it feeds how many for that 5 Euro? Probably one or two, right? I don't know about you, but if the package says it feeds two, it means it feeds ME alone ;)

Now, those ingredients you mentioned. They cost about 5 Euro too, right? Now, how many meals can you get off of that? I know that even the way I eat, I can usually get 3-4 meals off of a lot of dishes like that. That breaks your cost down to about 1-2 Euros per meal.

Of course, this assumes to the recipe isn't a one shot recipe, but if it is I suspect you'll have ingredients left over afterwards to make it again, so you still end up cheaper in the long run.

Tom

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: dry food costs on 02/03/2007 10:43:36 MST Print View

Cost can be a tricky area-if you are only getting out for 1-2 trips a year, and they are solo, by all means commercial foods can be cheaper. And easier.

If you like to make your own meals with specialized ingredients, drying food can be fun-and a way to have choices. It can save a lot of money for repeat trips also. For instance, a bag of frozen vegetables dried (here a $1 a bag for 1 lb frozen) will give you veggies for 6-8 meals! Same with cooking and drying 1 lb of pasta (here maybe $1 a lb uncooked or less on sale). That 1 lb of pasta will serve 4 meals.

If you are on a special diet (like me!) eating commercial is nearly impossible.

But definitely, if you want ease, a freeze dried dinner can be a good option, though pricey (here they run $4-8 a meal for one person!) For me, I can feed my son and me for about $1-3 a meal for two by doing a lot of the prep/and/or buying certain items in the grocery store and using them in meals :-)

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Some updates on 02/04/2007 19:40:11 MST Print View

I had time this weekend due to the icky weather, and did some updates on my site. I added more drying tips, and some more pictorial photos. Better balanced now! (I also resized a number of the photos for faster page loading.)

Einstein X
(EinsteinX) - F

Locale: The Netherlands
Re: How about kiwis on 02/09/2007 12:43:21 MST Print View

Sarah, nice update on your site.

I was just eating two kiwis. I realised that when i buy dried fruits (for GORP) at the nuts stand on the market there never are any kiwis. There is dried melon, pineapple, papaya, appels, reasins, etc, but no kiwis.

Is there a reason why i can't buy dried kiwis? Is it not possible to dry them or do they turn bad quickly or is it just that the people on the market don't make them.

It would be a great fruit to add to my GORP mix.

Thanx, Eins

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: How about kiwis on 02/09/2007 14:38:50 MST Print View

You can dry them! Do a dip in lemon juice or orange juice to stop browning first. I have seen them, but commercially they are not easy to find.

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Re: How about kiwis on 02/09/2007 15:23:22 MST Print View

>s there a reason why i can't buy dried kiwis?

Pacific Tropical Dried Kiwi, 30oz/850g bag. Yummy slices of whole kiwifruit. They do add sugar and citric acid so they're a bit on the heavy side (like dried pineapple), but I love 'em. They have the same bite as fresh kiwifruit. My wife found them at the grocery store last week. E-mail: sales@pacifictropicalco.com

Edited by Otter on 02/09/2007 15:24:06 MST.

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Re: Food drying on 02/11/2007 19:41:08 MST Print View

sarbar

on your website you mentioned the Nesco dehydrator.

How much time does it take to dehydrate foods with it?

For example, does it take you a couple of hours per day for a couple of days to make enough dehydrated meals for five meals?

Laurie Ann March
(Laurie_Ann) - F

Locale: Ontario, Canada
Nesco Dehydrator on 02/21/2007 15:08:25 MST Print View

Hi Everyone,

I have been away from the site for awhile because I am close to the deadline with my publisher for the wilderness cookbook.

To answer George's question about Nesco. It really depends on the model and what you are drying. I have the FD 75PR and you can read my review on it here...

http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/reviews/display_reviews.html?forum_thread_id=5098&cat=Foods%20%2D%20Energy%20Bars%2C%20Gels%2C%20and%20Drinks&cid=64

I really love this unit and find that fruits and veggies dry in anywhere from 3 to 7 hours and that meats dry between 6 and 10 hours... but it depends on so many factors such as the humidity in the air, number of trays, what you are drying, etc. If you want my times on some specific foods please let me know what they are and I will do my best to accomodate.

I have a full 12 trays so I can dry 12 meals in one go. I usually put it on at bedtime and shut it off in the morning unless it is an item that takes less than 7 hours to dry.

In answer to Einstein's question about kiwi. In speaking with a person that owns a freeze dried foods company I was told that kiwi was a rare one because of the loss of color. I guess they figured consumers wouldn't find it appealing. That said I dehydrate kiwi all the time. Just be sure that it is very ripe when you dry it.

Edited by Laurie_Ann on 02/21/2007 15:13:33 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Food drying on 02/21/2007 18:34:33 MST Print View

It depends on what I am drying, but say for pasta it takes maybe 4-6 hours (depending on type of pasta and humidity in the house). I often do a run of whatever I am drying for 6 months or more of trail use. I usually do my drying in blocks to get it out of the way!

George Matthews
(gmatthews) - MLife
Tray = meal on 02/22/2007 18:33:38 MST Print View

I am beginning to see. The dehydrator has trays that could be one meal per tray. And it does its does its work overnight if you want. This might work for me.

My goal is to begin eating good, nutritious meals on my hikes with only the ingredients that I want in them. No high fructose corn syrup, excess sodium, etc.

Before reading this forum, I'd never have believed that buying a food appliance would be on my wish list. I will check out the Nesco Professional FD-75PR (WC: good review!)