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  • recommend me a dehydrator

    So I've decided I want to make some beef jerkey. What model dehydrator do you guys use? What should I look for in one? I just did a search on amazon and found this with the best reviews:

    Nesco FD-75PR

    Amazon.com: Nesco FD-75PR 700-Watt Food Dehydrator: Home & Garden

    also, is it pretty straight forward how you make jerkey? just cook the beef, and lay strips of it in the dehydrator? About how long does it take to dehydrate? Also, for fruit, does it turn fruit crunchy like chips? I've tried making sweet potato fries but I think I need to dehydrate them first because they come out not crispy at all.

    Any help is appreciated.

  • #2
    We just bought Nesco American Harvest FD-61WHC Snackmaster Express Food Dehydrator All-In-One Kit with Jerky Gun The Jerky gun realllly isn't neccessary.... but it's actually cheaper (more $ off) then the same machine without the gun (American Harvest FD-61).

    I've made beef jerky, dried strawberries and zucchini chips since we got it.

    The beef jerky (made from ground beef) was fab. Dried strawberries dry solid, but they are not crunchy. They are kinda like fruit jerky... gotta work at it (But so yummy). The zucc chips were nice but I used a little too much garlic and I sliced them too thin. Since veggies are starting to go out of season I'm about to dehydrate stew veggies for the winter (bell peppers, onions, tomatos, and I haven't decided what else yet).

    I recommend getting a mandoline if you don't already have one. Makes prep work so much faster (and consistent which helps greatly with drying times... I remember cutting things with a knife when we had one with I was little and some things would over dry and some would underdry).

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    • #3
      A friend has an Excalibur 9-tray. That thing freakin' ROCKS!

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      • #4
        Yeah I have a mandolin, its awesome to say the least! So for jerky do you cook the meat in the oven after dehydrating it?

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        • #5
          I second the Excalibur 9 tray. I bought one earlier this year and it is one of the best kitchen investments I have made.

          Here is my jerky recipe:
          3 lbs ground beef
          Cumin
          Chili powder
          Garlic powder
          Salt
          Pepper
          You really need to play with these according to your preference. My husband also likes to add cayenne.

          Then press some out on a piece of parchment paper until it is about 1/8 - 1/4 of an inch thick; score it with a butter knife according to how you want your jerky pieces to look. Place the parchment on a tray and put it in the dehydrator. 3 lbs generally takes 4-5 trays of my dehydrator.

          For time... generally mine take 8-12 hours in the excalibur. Less fatty meat (I recently did a buffalo / beef combo) takes less time.

          hth.

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          • #6
            Yeah, the Excalibur. When I grow up, I want one. For now I have a Nesco Gardenmaster. Having the temp. settings helps.
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            • #7
              Originally posted by Brent* View Post
              Yeah I have a mandolin, its awesome to say the least! So for jerky do you cook the meat in the oven after dehydrating it?
              No, you never cook it. If you dehydrate at a high enough temp you effectively cook it, but you can use a lower temp also and keep it "raw" if you're not worried about E. Coli and such.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Brent* View Post
                Yeah I have a mandolin, its awesome to say the least! So for jerky do you cook the meat in the oven after dehydrating it?
                nope, its done when it is done dehydrating.

                I use metal pizza grill pans, between air filters, bungie corded onto a floor fan. Yum (adaption of an Alton Brown invention - it stuck to the air filters for me, thus the addition of the grill pans)
                Chris
                "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It is about learning to dance in the rain."
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                My "Program": doing my version of a 4:3 - 3 day fast diet with real food every day, with a little twist of anti-inflammatory mixed in.

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                • #9
                  We have the Nesco Professional Food and Jerky dehydrator. It has all the temperature settings for different types of foods. We have used it to dry fruits and nuts. Fruits come out a little chewy like the kind you buy in the store. Dried apples slices were delicious. The trays are easy to wash in the dishwasher. Highly recommend it.

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                  • #10
                    My husband uses london broil, cut in strips. Not chip thin - more like the size of steak fries. He likes to marinate it first, sometimes in beer (yeah, i know).

                    Usually only takes 4-5 hours in the dehydrator, but it all depends on personal taste as to how tough you like it. We store it in the fridge when done.

                    Dehydrators can be hard to clean - make sure yours is dishwasher safe.

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                    • #11
                      I have a L'Equip ( Amazon.com: L'Equip 306200 500-Watt 6-Tray Food Dehydrator, Gray: Home & Garden ). Have had no issues with it. To clean the trays I literally just spray with hot water even after making sticky jerky. Everything dries evenly and the squared trays make loading much easier. 12 year warranty!

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by mrsashton1993 View Post
                        I second the Excalibur 9 tray. I bought one earlier this year and it is one of the best kitchen investments I have made.

                        Here is my jerky recipe:
                        3 lbs ground beef
                        Cumin
                        Chili powder
                        Garlic powder
                        Salt
                        Pepper
                        You really need to play with these according to your preference. My husband also likes to add cayenne.

                        Then press some out on a piece of parchment paper until it is about 1/8 - 1/4 of an inch thick; score it with a butter knife according to how you want your jerky pieces to look. Place the parchment on a tray and put it in the dehydrator. 3 lbs generally takes 4-5 trays of my dehydrator.

                        For time... generally mine take 8-12 hours in the excalibur. Less fatty meat (I recently did a buffalo / beef combo) takes less time.

                        hth.

                        the excalibur looks pretty awesome. Is it noisy at all? If you have to have it on for 8-12 hrs I would like it to be quiet. I'll probably get a cheap $50 dehydrator, and go from there as I already spent some $400 on a vitamix a year ago

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Brent* View Post
                          So I've decided I want to make some beef jerkey. What model dehydrator do you guys use? What should I look for in one? I just did a search on amazon and found this with the best reviews:

                          Nesco FD-75PR

                          Amazon.com: Nesco FD-75PR 700-Watt Food Dehydrator: Home & Garden

                          also, is it pretty straight forward how you make jerkey? just cook the beef, and lay strips of it in the dehydrator? About how long does it take to dehydrate? Also, for fruit, does it turn fruit crunchy like chips? I've tried making sweet potato fries but I think I need to dehydrate them first because they come out not crispy at all.

                          Any help is appreciated.
                          I have the model that you are looking at and have been very satisfied with it. Two big advantages are the temperature control and the fact that the fan is on top. It is also very quiet and not hard to clean. It is, however, a counter hog...it's quite large. I have a huge kitchen, so that's not a problem.

                          Drying time for jerky depends on the cut and how fatty it is. I get Angus flank steak cut into strips and it takes about 5 hours to get very dry jerky. No, you don't cook it first. I do marinate mine overnight first, using a recipe from this site:

                          For a 2-lb cut:
                          ¼ cup gluten free soy sauce
                          2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
                          1 Tbsp. liquid smoke
                          3 minced or crushed garlic cloves
                          2 ½ tsp. onion powder
                          2 tsp. hot chili powder
                          ½-1 tsp. each of salt and black pepper
                          (Hint: For a hotter taste, add red pepper flakes or hot sauce. To add a hint of sweetness, include a Tbsp. of honey.)
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                          • #14
                            This is what I have. It's a great machine.
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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Brent* View Post
                              Yeah I have a mandolin, its awesome to say the least! So for jerky do you cook the meat in the oven after dehydrating it?
                              The meat setting on the dehydrator is around 160deg if i remember right (highest setting on mine). The book says it keeps the food 5-15 deg less then the setting so the meat is already fairly 'cooked' if you use that temp setting. The book recommends popping pork in to the oven for a few minutes after it's dehydrated to make sure all the bugs are cooked out, but I haven't done anything other then ground beef.

                              If you get the Nesco one with Jerky seasoning be sure to read the ingredients (the list isn't on the seasoning packages but a different paper insert). You might not agree with some of the chemicals they put in there.

                              The Nesco is fairly quiet. It's quieter then my box fan on low, but you can hear it while you are in the kitchen. It doesn't bother me in the slightest (or my roommate who can be picky about noise).

                              (I have some banana's in there now. I know it's not the most primal fruit, but I have foot cramp issues I'm working through and this way I can just eat 10 chips a day (½ a banana) instead of eating the entire thing or eating half and the rest going bad! :P)

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