Rating: 5 / 5
I bought my dehydrator years ago. It looks like the one below, it only cost me about $60.00. Now I don't really know what they cost or where to get them. Update: I just found one that looks like mine for $60.00 on sale at http://www.popeilfamilystore.com/fd-50t.html
It has easily paid for itself, especially with the amount of beef jerky it has made. Which must have saved me at least $500.
Now I am making dried ground beef to take trekking -- it works great -- my last experiment was to see how long it would last after drying in a ziplock bag without making me sick when I ate it. Lasted two months and then I had eaten all the test beef.
Once dried you can put turkey, chicken, beef, or anything else in a baggy with water and let it soak while you walk. Giving a reconstituted food to cook with later.
Ground beef reconstitutes in minutes if you put it in your cooking water while boiling, so do things like green onions and other stuff. Home dried tomatoes are a favorite. Then you put that with some powdered potato or into a freeze dried pre-prepared food bag (love putting a big pile of dried ground beef into the .5 ounce Mountain House corn bag)and it adds more food, taste, and calories.
I also make soups with thin, SUL asian noodles with a few dried veggies and make a kind of miso out of a couple of ounces of dried stuff and some little packages of soy sauce, ground pepper and other spices, or other stuff from restaurants and some Arrowroot for thickener, if I want it. I've also experimented with the different hot sauces from Taco Bell and other places as seasoning packets.
Anyway, they are still making various models of the same type of dehydrator I got at somewhere like Costco in the early 1990s -- by Nesco and called the American Harvest. They vary in price, I guess because of the quality of the heating unit and frills. It is good to have the thermostat since some things need a longer lower temp to really come out right, like fruits or veggies v. beef, in my experience. Altnough I am not that sure it matters.
All you need is about 4 trays minimum and up to 10 or 12 on the stronger units. I use about six and it handles beef jerky from a roast on sale for $1.99 a pound, making a lot of jerky worth lots of bucks more than what I paid.
They sell the basic trays separately for like 2 for $6.00 - $15.00 so you can always get more.
You also want to have at least one fruit bar tray to spread smashed up fruit on to make fruit jerky.
They will dry anything you want to make, as far as I have experienced. So this is the way to make your own healthy dried food without all the salt and have the freedom to experiment, dry your favorite fruits, vegetables, or goo.
It takes up to 24 hours to dry stuff and you need to learn when to take it out, I have made beef jerky that was so dry and hard it was like crackers. But it didn't weigh anything for a whole baggy, like maybe an ounce.
Anyway ... it is a great tool when it comes to resolving and planning food issues. I would look in the WalMarts, Targets, and such stores for a sale item. Mine has lasted and is still going strong after more than 10 years.