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Finally went and bought a dehydrator
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John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Finally went and bought a dehydrator on 12/17/2012 06:57:54 MST Print View

Been a long time of going back and forth on buying top of the line dehydrator. Birthday came along and with it some amazon gift cards, so I finally picked up the Excalibur 3926TB. Should make for some interesting cooking and dehydrating over this winter season (as if my power bills are not bad enough).

I guess the next thing I need to buy is a good bag vacuum sealer machine thingiemagiger. I know there are a bazillion of them out there. Some sub 100 dollars and some up around the 300 mark. I have no problem spending money on a good one, but this is one of those things that are so far outside my scope of knowledge that I could really use some suggestions.

The vast majority of food that I will be making will be trail food that will be in-bag for under four months from time of dehydrating to time of consumption.

I suppose at some point I might use the vacuum sealer for other things that might end up in a freezer, but at this point I suspect that 99% of it will be trail food consumed within a matter of months. I have no idea if this effects a purchase decision, so I figured I should throw this out there.

Any feedback at all on these things is going to be greatly appreciated!


Heather Hohnholz
(Hawke) - M
Food Savr on 12/17/2012 07:51:53 MST Print View

IMHO, the length of time you'll be storing stuff, just put it in a freezer ziploc, then store in the freezer. I also store my dehydrated stuff in quart jars, then portion it out into ziplocs for the trip. Unless you live in a super humid climate?

Gary Dunckel
(Zia-Grill-Guy) - MLife

Locale: Boulder
Food Saver on 12/17/2012 08:43:22 MST Print View

John, I've been using the cheaper Food Saver model V-2244 for awhile, and it works fine for most applications. However, with the amount of vacuum sealing that I do, they don't last more than a few years. I'm thinking that when this one goes bung, that I'll buy the seemingly more macho Food Saver model V-3460 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond, and use one of their 20% coupons that they mail to me often.

You'll be amazed at how many applications you'll find for a vacuum sealer. I've cut up Tyvek envelopes and made lightweight bags for tent stakes, for example. I've also sealed all my first aid gauze packs in a single bag, which removes all the air and saves space in the emergency kit. I do the same with a few Esbit tabs (for emergency fire starters), which eliminates odor. If I think I might encounter a stream crossing, I'll carry a vacuum-sealed pair of Cool Max liner socks and a couple of Whole Foods' plastic bags (from the meat section, not the bulk bin section--they're stronger). I take off my regular socks and remove the shoe liner pad, cross the stream, then dry my feet, put on the liners and then the bags, and resume the hike. When the shoes are pretty much dry, I replace the shoe liners, put my regular socks back on and be done with it (I know, I know--too much information...).

I also buy certain Mountain House items in their bulk #10 tins (meats, FD veggies), and repackage them into 1-cup portions, seal them, and just store them in my cool, dark, basement pantry. They remain fine even after several years. I do the same with Harmony House's dried beans and veggies, and they remain fine for the same length of time. Any meat that I've dried myself gets sealed and the placed into the freezer, and the sealed cheeses stay in the refrigerator.

For me, winter is the time that I do my packaging for the next summer's vittles. Cold Colorado days with low humidity are perfect conditions to do the sealing duties.

Laurie Gibson
(lagibson) - MLife

Locale: Southwest
Food Saver accessory hose on 12/17/2012 10:15:08 MST Print View

I have a FoodSaver model that has an accessory hose (model V3880 from Costco). With the accessory Wide-Mouth Jar Sealer (< $10 from amazon) and wide-mouth Mason Jars (e.g. Kerr brand available at grocery stores), the machine can be used without the plastic bags. This is a big advantage for me. BTW, only one jar sealer is required as it is removed after the jar is sealed.

Ike Jutkowitz
(Ike) - M

Locale: Central Michigan
re: on 12/17/2012 16:36:05 MST Print View

I use a foodsaver for vacuum sealing leftovers. As far as dehydrated food goes, I agree with Heather. I stick it in a ziplock freezer bag in the chest freezer. Because I FBC all my meals, it is better than wasting a vacuum bag, and keeps just as well.

Edited by Ike on 12/17/2012 16:36:45 MST.

Konrad .
(Konrad1013) - MLife
food saver on 12/21/2012 10:48:12 MST Print View


I just want to mirror Ike and Heather's opinion in that you do not need a food saver, especially if your food will only be stored for 4 months. I've kept dehydrated meals in a ziplock and in my freezer for over a year with no adverse effect. If you wanted to be really safe, throw in a silica gel packet. A lot people actually prefer not to use vacuum sealed bags because they tend to produce rock hard bricks of food that aren't malleable. This means you're going to have a harder time stuffing your food into a bear canister,

With that said, Gary brings up some very good multi-uses with his food saver. If you can imagine doing some of the things he does with his, in addition to storing food, then you might have a better reason to pick one up.

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Finally went and bought a dehydrator on 12/26/2012 20:03:21 MST Print View

Hey All,

Thank you so very much for the feedback so far.

Think I will just take the zip lock bag approach for now and see how things work out.

Here is the dried corn and peas. I took one cup of the corn and put it through my burr grinder at the finest setting and it resulted in the very fine powder, the one cup of corn ended up being 3/4 cup after being ground.

Up until now I have been buying all of my hiking meals from - spending literally hundreds of dollars a year buying food from him. He runs three of these same machines pretty much year around, and at times I think my massive orders have all three running for weeks on end.

Figured it was about time I buy one of these and start doing up some of my own meals to off-load some of his work and help me be able to make some of my own meals.

I think my eventual goal will be to make as much powder products as I can, to be able to make into high power smoothies (for lack of a better term) to use as breakfast and lunch meals on the trail. If I can find a way to produce a drink mix (perhaps mixed with some Optimum Nutrition Platinum Hydro Whey, which I already use) that would be in the 300+ calorie range, that would make me happy - and of course it has to taste good enough to consume every day for 30+ days. The corn and peas, of course, could also be used within some dinner meals.

dehydrator 001

Heather Hohnholz
(Hawke) - M
Peas on 12/29/2012 10:58:51 MST Print View

Have you tried rehydrating your peas? I've heard dozens of horror stories about how they won't rehydrate, no way, no how. Curious if you've tried it yet?

John Abela
(JohnAbela) - MLife

Re: Peas on 01/09/2013 04:29:10 MST Print View

Have you tried rehydrating your peas?

Hey Heather, I have not had any issues with getting the peas to rehydrate. I would say that of all the things I have do so far, small potato cubes have been the hardest to rehydrate. So I have switched over to turning all of my into potato rice using one of these which ends up making potatoes that look like this.

Edited by JohnAbela on 01/09/2013 04:29:43 MST.

Paul Mountford
(Sparticus) - MLife

Locale: Atlantic Canada
Re: Finally went and bought a dehydrator on 01/09/2013 05:53:48 MST Print View


You will not regret the Excalibur. I’ve had mine for about 2.5 years and I only regret not get one with more trays!

Have you come across yet? He has a bunch of good tips, and the ones on ground beef and chicken are bang on. There are a number of recipes for ‘barks’ that are similar to what you did with the pureed corn. They are great to use as a base for many meals.

Edited by Sparticus on 01/09/2013 05:55:05 MST.

Hiking Malto
(gg-man) - F
Another option on 01/09/2013 06:26:58 MST Print View

I constructed all my dinners out of grocery dinner mixes like hamburger helper with other ingredients mixed in like DH ground beef. I packed these out in qt zippers because I FBC but I placed an oxygen scavenger in each bag. These can be purchased at most places that sell #10 cans of DH foods. Your choice whether to remove the pack prior to trip or in the field. I also use the scavengers for the extra product as well.

Edited by gg-man on 01/09/2013 06:27:56 MST.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Potatoes on 01/09/2013 09:28:30 MST Print View

I find the easiest way to do potatoes is to shred them - hash brown style. They dry quickly but also rehydrate quickly. Flat and thin is where it is at in rehydration.....

Heather Hohnholz
(Hawke) - M
Peas/Potatoes on 01/12/2013 11:46:17 MST Print View

Interesting insights everyone. I LOVE the dehydrated riced potatoes. I'm gonna keep that one in mind! With sweet potatoes, I've cooked & pureed them, then dehydrated the puree into a "leather." It seems to rehydrate pretty well, but I've only tried it via the simmer method, never the FBC method.

Dustin Judd
(ddujnitsud) - F
Cooked or not? on 01/12/2013 15:21:48 MST Print View

So do you cook the "riced potatoes" or not before dehydrating?

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Peas/Potatoes on 01/12/2013 16:14:28 MST Print View


As long as the sweet potatoes are cooked, dried and then powdered, they work great for FBC :-)

Heather Hohnholz
(Hawke) - M
Riced Potatoes on 01/15/2013 07:45:52 MST Print View

You have to cook the potatoes in order to rice them. :)

Tipi Walter
(TipiWalter) - F
Dryer on 02/08/2013 14:51:48 MST Print View

Dehydrating gets in your blood I believe, especially if you're a backpacker. There are so many foods that come either frozen or in cans and big homemade meals that can be dried to nothing.

I do all my drying before a trip and so I don't need long term storage like a Food Saver. I quit using the little round Nesco dryers years ago and beefed up with a TSM 5 tray beast much like the Excalibur. 5 large trays are big enough for a full pot of spaghetti which is one of my favorite homemade and dried out-on-the-trail meals. One large ziploc and I have dinners for a week.

My dehyde frenzy encompasses---
** frozen butternut squash thawed and dried
** canned refried beans and bean chilis
** blended up cantaloupe into a fruit leather
** baked tofu strips
** prepared frozen mac and cheese thawed and dried
** tomato soups
** mushroom soups
** aforementioned spaghetti---cook one box of whole wheat spaghetti, add mushrooms and 2 jars fave sauce, mix and dry.
** Pretty much anything in a can or in the frozen food grocery aisle.

I even dried yogurt and fruit smoothies like mango.

Nathan Hays

Locale: San Francisco
Dryer on 02/11/2013 15:05:04 MST Print View

We bring thin pasta (vermicelli), couscous, and instant rice as our base. These all pack very densely and cook in a jiffy. To top them, we dehydrate all manner of sauteed mushrooms, carmelized onions, tomato sauces, teriyaki TVP or freeze-dried ground beef (honeyville). Then of course are the aforementioned vegetables. MH meals just can't even come close to the banquets we put on.

We used to vacuum seal, but this year we won't because it really takes up a LOT of room in the pack/bearcan. Dense packing is oh so important.