Food dryers^

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Food dryers^

Post by andreadawn » Thu Jan 10, 2008 9:20 pm

Has anyone here any experience of using food dryers to prepare food for sea kayaking trips?

I rather enjoy cooking in the outdoors, but some days it would be nice to just have some ready-made homemade dish, to which I could just add water and heat. I could also avoid having to carry things like tins of tomatoes, which I tend to use vast quantities of (and have to pack out the empty tins). I could just dry them beforehand instead.

I've been toying with getting one for years but have never got around to it. I have a book on kayak cookery which suggests lots of good ideas for foods to dry. It suggests using an ordinary oven though, but I'm not keen on leaving my oven on for the typical 8-24 hours suggested.

Are food dryers more efficient or is better to use an ordinary oven? Can anyone recomend a particular model of dryer? These things seem to be more popular in America than over here so perhaps nobody has used one. Any info would be appreciated, especially if anyone has used one specifically for paddling trips.



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Post by Mark R » Thu Jan 10, 2008 9:23 pm

Simon W wrote this after Heather asked him about the topic ... ... -food.html

Thankfully Heather hasn't inflicted this particular shade of insanity upon us (yet).
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Post by Jim » Fri Jan 11, 2008 12:09 am

My boss dries liver as treats for the dog in the oven. I really have no idea how she does it, clearly at some point she must light the gas, and the liver gets cut into small strips and spread out over a big baking tray, but the essential details I have no about.

I did see Ray Mears make a dryer on his wild food program. Basically a tall tripod of fresh branches, thatched with green branches, leaves and all with some cross sticks to support other sticks with thinly sliced venison draped over them inside the thatched tripod. The thatch stopped a foot or 2 above the ground to let the wind under, there was a small fire involved, can't recall if it was under, or just nearby to let the warm air waft through the drier -actually it might just have been some smouldering embers from the fire? Oh well, you know you want to buy the DVD and watch it anyway....


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Post by NickB » Fri Jan 11, 2008 7:14 am

Some modern electric ovens switch off automatically after 4 or 5 hours (mine and my inlaws included) this nearly lead to a Christmas Lunch disaster!!
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Post by keith » Fri Jan 11, 2008 8:43 am

This link

Has a load of links about dehydrators towards the bottom of the page

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Post by Owen » Fri Jan 11, 2008 9:44 am


I have a food dryer, its a "Harvester Maid" brought from Lakeland Plastics. I haven't been on any long trips for a few years now but when I was doing them it was invaluable. Not tried drying in an oven but it sounds very inefficient the dryer uses about 100-120w. I mainly dry fruit and veg, the book says you can dry meat but I've not had much luck with it; it all ends up tasting like crap. Somethings work better than others it took a bit of trial and error to get it right but I found it really useful.

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Post by hhzoombird » Fri Jan 11, 2008 3:19 pm

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Post by andreadawn » Sun Jan 13, 2008 9:40 am

Thanks for the replies; some good information there. The Ray Mears method sounds ever so slightly fiddly though. I really just want something I can plug in!

I'm a bit concerned about Jim's boss. Maybe a visit from the RSPCA is needed?
Jim wrote:for the dog in the oven

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Post by Jim » Sun Jan 13, 2008 11:42 am

Doesn't every oven have a dog in it?

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Post by Skua » Sun Jan 13, 2008 11:30 pm

You can make a biltong maker (meat drier) very easily from wood and a couple of stainless wires. A big cardboard box would do if it was tall.

The heat is provided by an electric lamp in the bottom - so Owen 100w is about right. A single bulb in a holder.

With a set of holes to allow the air to circulate the drying is done by the convection current set up by the heat of the bulb - it is very gentle and works well. We use one when I get a deer and make venison biltong - hard and chewy, just the job for eating while on the move.

It also works well with turkey or chicken, and beef, but not with lamb or pork.

Hope that helps - it doesn't smell while it is curing by the way. A bit of salt rubbed into the meat helps to dry it out - the salt draws moisture out from the meat and prevents bacteria growing.

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Food drier

Post by waltfos » Mon Jan 14, 2008 9:46 am

As Skua's entry above

Method one

The difference is put a terracota plant pot over the lamp about 12" high or bigger. This works as a storage radiator in principal

method two

Again put large plant pot over lamp and then smaller plant pot on top [for balance reasons]. Line up holes and then place racks in upper pot.

This is also a good idea to heat a loft in the winter if going away to keep pipes reasonable.


Put heat resistant sleeving over the wires to be on the safe side and if possible use silicon cable too PLUS FUSE THE PLUG TO 1 0R 3 AMPS watch the rim of the pot on what it stands on as it will get hot and possibly burn what you use as a plinth

Trust this helps

Keep shoogling


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Post by Simon Willis » Mon Jan 14, 2008 3:43 pm

Or spend £25 on one. Or this for £99 is what we use.

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Post by Mikebelluk » Tue Jan 15, 2008 10:13 pm

I bought one from Tchibo last year and have used it a lot.

Good for drying bananas, peppers, apple slices etc, and I've also used it to dry out Chilli [canned Stagg stuff too], baked beans, Ambrosia rice pud and bolognese sauce for camping trips.
The dried stuff needs a couple of hours to rehydrate and tastes pretty much the same. And a lot cheaper than Wayfarers meals.

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Dehydrator for food

Post by renezee » Wed Jan 16, 2008 11:47 am

I use for years already a drymachine like the "Stockli Dehydrator" (look f.i. at
I am very happy with this system

I even dried cooked rice in it: making it possible, when you want to eat, to let the rice absorb water for a few hours (put it under water in the morning for eating at lunch), warm it a bit and are able to eat within minutes.
This results in much less cooking time and saves very much on fuel to take along: no more cooking (did that at home already) and less fuel-weight to carry.

When backpacking I am now able to carry dried food with me for 15 days and do not exceed 20kg of weight of my total backpack. When talking about kayaking you can get away for months

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Post by geyrfugl » Sat Jan 26, 2008 10:08 am

Leaving an oven on for many hours isn't as expensive/unecological/
dangerous as you might think because, for drying, you only need a low
temperature. It should be 120°C for at least some of the time to
pasteurise the food, but the rest of the time it sits at 50-80° depending
on what you are drying. No different from making meringues, except
that we never do the pasteurising bit on those, as we don't use factory
farm eggs...

We do beef jerky, usually at 80° and it typically takes 24-36 hours,
because we marinade the meat for quite a while first, then keep dripping
the remains of the marinade onto the meat every few hours. Your
jerky needs a decent dose of chilli in it so that, when chewed between
sips of whiskey round the campfire, you can achieve the maximum
destructive effect on taste buds and mouth tissues ... Something like
Laphroaig is needed to hold its own against my jerky.

If you read a lot of websites (esp. American ones) with advice about
jerky, they say that commercially produced jerky keeps up to a year,
but home-made should not be kept more than a month (or two). It
strikes me that they just want to sell commercial jerky. We've kept ours
up to a couple of years with no discernible deterioration, just in a
freezer bag closed with a clipclip. The short period over 100° is
probably critical to this - and if you are dripping the marinade over,
it needs to be after the last basting :-)

Of course, it helps to have one of those double ovens so you can still
use the bigger one to cook dinner !


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