Drying Fruits - Equipment

June 11, 2011

What To Dry Fruits With

The sun is the oldest method of drying large quantities of food at one time, but it is dependent on weather conditions and can take days compared to hours in a dehydrator or oven. If you would like to dry in the sun, the best temperature is 85 degrees or more for many days in a row, good air circulation, insect protection (with netting), and avoiding pollution, are all part of the equation. If you are not able to stay close to your food and monitor both the dryness, and to protect it from the all of these things, then may be sun drying is not for you. 

Conventional ovens are also a good way to dehydrate. The oven must be able to maintain a temperature of 130 to 150 degrees with the door propped open. The standard is 200 degrees on many ovens, so check before jumping in with a bushel of something that needs to be dried. The oven cost more than a dehydrator because it used more electricity. It is also not practical for summer drying, since it will certainly heat up your  house. Finally, it is not advisable to set  your oven, prop it open and then leave your home for the day. This, too, needs more frequent monitoring. 

Dehydrators area useful appliance for your frugal kitchen. They can be found new, or very often used, for just a few dollars. If you are dehydrating some treats for the family, you can get by with a simple fan and trays design. These stack above the fan, with no thermometer. They make no noise, and have a fairly small footprint. If you find that you are dehydrating constantly, or in much larger batches at a time, upgrade to a dehydrator with a thermostat and a larger tray size. I have been using my Excalibur dehydrator since 2000. It actually sits on my counter all year round, where I can easily fill it with items no matter what is in season. 


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