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Food Dehydrator

Discussion in 'Preparedness & Survival' started by DALE, Sep 5, 2009.

  1. DALE

    DALE Boring, Oregon Member

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    This is new to me, but decided that this is another important element of food storage. This weekend I built this food dehydrator. Link
    I have a couple of apple trees that are heavy producers and I can now take advantage of the crop and enjoy them thru the year. Canning with mason jars is next to learn. I bought an "Apple Machine" from Bi-Mart...it does a super job of coring, peeling, and slicing the apples. I've got about 12 apples drying in it right now and hopefully in about 6 more hours will have apple chips!:p So far the water heater thermostat is working great at regulating the temp and looks like it is going to do OK. It cost about $50 to build, but then I had alot of the stuff on hand. I'll give a report on how it works out. I used 5 100w bulbs and the max temp is 140, so if I dehydrate meats I'll have to add 1 or 2 more to get the heat up.
     
  2. bersaguy

    bersaguy Oregon Member

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    Dale,
    You are taking me way back... I built a dehydrator from the same plan (I got it from the OR State Extension Service) 35 years ago! We dried a ton of fruit and veggies in it over the years. We sold it a couple of years ago and bought a smaller commercially made dehydrator.

    The only challenge with the homemade one was that it was do darn big! The wife finally got tired of finding a place to put it.

    How did you make your trays? I made mine out of pine ripped to approx 1/2 by 1/2 with window screen for the mesh surface.

    It is a great homemade dehydrator and I am glad to see that the plan is still in use. Have fun with it and enjoy the dried apples!
     
  3. bersaguy

    bersaguy Oregon Member

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    Dale,
    Have you ever thought about building a cider press??? That is next on your list. I am hosing mine down and getting ready to go into the cider making business...
     
  4. DALE

    DALE Boring, Oregon Member

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    I built the racks similar as you did. I ripped doug fir down to 3/4"x3/4" and used aluminum screen stapled onto it. I used 5/8" for the box so I agree it is a heavy bugger. The OR State Ex Service plans are the one I used...just couldn't find it when I posted the Link. This one seems identical. Do you remember how many bulbs and the wattage you used?

    Hmmmm, Cider Press...Got plans?:)
     
  5. bersaguy

    bersaguy Oregon Member

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    Dale,
    I didn't use light bulbs as the heat source. I used a an element from a heat lamp. It was made out of porclain (sp), sort of cone shaped and wrapped with heating coil similar to what is used in a toaster. It screwed into a porclain socket. Took me forever to find one. Went to all of the hardware stores in Benton, Linn and Marion counties. Worked like a dream though and the dehydrator is still in use!

    Regarding the cider press, I will look through my plan files. I never throw plans away so it is probably here somewhere. First thing you need to do is start looking for a 1" diameter screw with acme thread and a big ol nut. the rest is easy.

    Again, enjoy your dried fruit! You made my day.
     
  6. Redstick

    Redstick WA Member

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    I've got a cider press I could part with. It's all complete and works fine. I would sell it for $150.00 or trade it for ??? PM me if interested.
     
  7. Fred jaeger

    Fred jaeger Dallas OR New Member

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    Bersaguy where did you find the cone elements for your food dehydrator
     
  8. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Nice! Don't forget to put a cover over those bulbs. One drip can break them, and even if not, you don't want them getting gummed up with junk.

    Also, Imho if there is too much air flow, you'll lose your heat. I'd hang a cheap thermometer in there? ??

    When it comes to canning, I believe that even if the food is free, the cost of jars, rings, lids, pressure cooker and power is greater than just buying case lots of canned food on sale.

    $.02
     
  9. bersaguy

    bersaguy Oregon Member

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    Fred,
    I built my dehydrator well over 30 years ago. I don't remember where I finally found the cone shaped heating element. I think it was a hardware store in Salem.
     
  10. bersaguy

    bersaguy Oregon Member

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    Gunner,
    Good points. The plan from the extension service does call for a baffle between the heat source and the drying trays. The baffle has a gap at the front and back of the drying to facilitate airflow.

    The heat source is thermostatically controlled and there is a thermometer at the top of the cabinet in the drying chamber. There is also an adjustible covered vent in the door to help maintain the proper temperature.

    Overall this is a great dehydrator. We have dried hundreds of pounds of fruit in ours over the years.
     
  11. Gunner3456

    Gunner3456 Salem Well-Known Member

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    Ah, very good. Sounds great. :thumbup:
     
  12. deadeye

    deadeye Albany,OR. Moderator Staff Member

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    I would recomend soaking the apples in cold water/fruit fresh solution to keep from browning while dehydrating. 140deg. is kinda high for apples I would add an exterior mounted fan such as a cooling fan from an old computer and put a vent out the top at opposite end. As for the meats you only need a max of 155deg. for internal kill of possible bugs. the fan will do alot for releasing the AW (active/available water) which is the breading ground for mold/germs. The best AW is .85 to eliminate mold growth on dried foods. Don't forget a seal-a-meal (old term) type machine is ideal as the new ones pull a vaccum to eliminate oxygen content.
     
  13. dario541

    dario541 medford, or 97504 Member

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    Walkin through Bi-Mart yesterday, I saw a product called "Drying Screens." It is used in kitchen ovens and smokers to make jerky and perhaps other products. The pictures on the box make it look fun and easy. I may try it. It was in the sporting goods section.