Buying a Food Dehydrator
Best Food Dehydrator for the Dollar
Food Storage Tips
I have a question for fellow readers. I was given a food dehydrator for a Christmas gift (I had wanted one for a while). It only came with a few recipes, so I have been on a hunt for different recipes to use with it! Any recipes for snacks and jerkies and anything else would be appreciated!
It's fun. The jerky in the stores is really expensive. You can make it at least as good after a little practice. And you'll know exactly what is in it.
About 3 lbs. of London Broil sliced 1/4" thick covers the five 14" trays of my dehydrator and makes just slightly over 1 lb of jerky. I use something like this:
1/4 cup Steak Sauce,
1/8 cup Worcestershire Sauce
Soy Sauce to taste
1/4 to 3/8 cup of Red Wine (or whatever kind is in the fridge)
less than that of White Vinegar (1/4 cup)
a liberal dose of Smoked Salt - about 1 tsp.
a liberal dose of Black Pepper - about 1 1/2 tsp .
a liberal dose of Cayenne Pepper - about 1 tsp.
a few dashes of Hot Sauce (or more) - about 1 tsp.
some Garlic Salt - about 1/2 tsp. (or not)
I stir it around and let it sit with the meat for an hour or more (overnight is fine in the refrigerator) before placing it in the drier. Mine usually dries in about a day. Longer if it is really thick or if it is humid in the house.
A friend suggests adding a little bit of liquid smoke and some mesquite marinade. Another friend used Teryaki Sauce once as a substitute for Soy. Any kind of hot sauce will do.
You can use other cuts of meat, especially steak. With steak, I try to cut out all or the real fatty areas. Fat tends to go rancid if you store the meat very long says the directions from my dehydrator. London broil works really well. I bought way too much meat last time. (about 5 lbs of meat- good sale!) but just kept it in the refrigerator in the seasonings/marinade and sauces for a few days until I was done with the first batch.
An experienced friend also noted not to use any ingredients with oil, it doesn't evaporate and tends to make the meat slimy (like Italian dressing as a marinade). I also watch for MSG in my ingredients, it bothers a lot of people (like me).
To make slicing easier, place the meat in the freezer for about an hour to an hour and a half or so. Don't freeze it hard. Just firm it up. To make slicing even easier, ask the butcher to do it for you. Ask for it to be 3/16-1/4 " thick. Now, I just use a plastic cutting board and a sharp knife.
A fellow I work with grinds venison and mixes everything all together. He shapes it into a brick 1-1/4" thick by about 6"x10" (or thereabouts) between sheets of waxed paper lets it set and then freezes it before slicing. He dries it in the oven. Be careful leaving an oven on for long periods! I don't recommend it. It is too hot and actually cooks the meat.
The manual says jerky should break crisply when cooled. There should be no pink inside. Mine usually takes at least a whole day to dry.
After it cools, I store the jerky in resealable plastic bags if I expect to use it in a month or so. Store it in mason jars or vacuum pack for longer storage. Cool dry place, etc.
Watch for a dehydrator at garage sales. Mine was only $5 and looked like new! Really nice ones can run into the $100s.
I take a rump round roast and slice it across the grain in thin strips. I marinate it in a mixture of Dale's steak seasoning, hot red pepper powder (Korean type), salt and sugar and all natural liquid smoke flavoring (use sparingly) I don't measure these ingredients so adjust them according to taste. You can mix the marinade up and taste it before pouring it over the meat. I have also experimented with adding ginger powder and terriyaki sauce. It will be a liquid marinade if Dale's or terriyaki sauce are used. Turn the strips of beef every 2 hours for a total of 8 hours in the marinade. Turn on the dehydrator, and draw the strips of beef across the edge of the bowl they were marinated in and place them on the racks of the dryer. Dry the meat until it is free of moisture, usually 4 hours on my machine. Let it cool and store in resealable bags. This is a very lean jerky and it is not tough if the meat is sliced across the grain. It is very tasty and friends and relatives eat it up quickly when I make it.
I suggest calling the local Extension Service. In all states there are Cooperative Extension or University Extension offices in most counties. Here in Minnesota the Exension Educators (agents) teach a variety of things including food preservation and most information or lesson are free or at minimal cost. Also there are para professional who teach nutrition education for limited income families... worth checking out.
My favorite dehydrator recipe is for tomatoes. I squeeze out the juice of the tomatoes. Cook the juice down to paste then dry it in the dehydrator. I put it on fruit roll up sheets in the dehydrator and dry until not sticky anymore. Next I like to roll it up and freeze it. When needed for soups or spaghetti sauce, I either heat on the stove with water or microwave. My favorite jerky recipe is
1/3 cup liquid smoke
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups soy sauce
4 to 5 pounds Round Steak
Mix together smoke, brown sugar, and soy sauce. Slice Round Steak and place in a shallow bowl. Pour sauce over top. Marinate over night. Turn frequently.
There are some excellent books out there. Check your local library and do a subject search. I recommend anything published by Rodale. I used my dehydrator a great deal this summer and plan on a lot more now that my freezer's full and there are still so many fruits and veggies to put up!
Our favorites on the dehydrator are pears, peaches and prune plums. Rinse them in water, cut them in half, remove pits or use a melon baller to scoop out core of the pears. Do not peel, just slice 1/4 inch or so thick and place on trays. I have an open style dehydrator and do not use any kind of pretreatments (lemon juice, ascorbic acid, sulfur, etc.) You may have to experiment to find what works best in your model. I also have an apple peeler, corer, slicer (hand crank kind that makes spirals.) Cut across one side of the spiral making rings and dip in a cinnamon and sugar mixture and place on trays. These drip quite a bit so I usually skip the first tray and place a napkin or paper towel on it for the first hour or two - then I remove the paper and fill this tray and place it on the very top of the dehydrator. These make wonderful gifts in recyled jars with decorated or fabric covered lids tied with raffia. Best with the sour varieties. Bananas are good too. Just peel and slice and arrange on trays. Depending on the bananas these vary in stickiness, but don't expect the crunchy, dry kind sold in stores. I usually spray the tray with PAM or wipe it lightly with vegetable oil so the fruit is easier to remove. Apricots turned out hard and squash-y tasting using this method. Can anyone give me some tips in this area? A certain variety of fruit? A pretreatment? I love the store bought kind!
Blend one cup apple juice with one package of frozen strawberries. Cover one of the racks with saran-wrap. Pour mixture into rack and dehydrate. Soon you'll have home made fruit roll ups. If you have any remaining mixture, drink it. It's yummy!
I have a great recipe that came with my dehydrator several years ago. You can use it to make any kind of jerkie. Take three parts soy sauce, 1 part brown sugar, 1 part liquid smoke and mix together. Let this stand for five minutes and then add meat. Let marinate min. 3 hours or overnite. Place on trays and make sure not to overlap. Drying time varies depending upon amount of meat used.
I generally go to the grocery on Mondays, after the picnic weekends are over. You can get excellent cuts of steak in the mark down section. Bring them home and cut them up. I've found that cutting them into bite-sized pieces makes it easier to enjoy later. Another great meat to use is the very thin-sliced "family" steaks. Usually you can get a decent sized package for less than $2. This generally doesn't have a lot of fat and tastes great.
My son takes a plastic container to school and puts it in his locker filled with this stuff. Then he grabs a handful in between classes.
You can alter the above recipe as you wish. You can even roll in black pepper for peppered jerkey. You're the chef, so create!
If you enjoyed this article you might also want to check out:
Take the Next Step:
Sign up for our free weekly eNewsletter Surviving Tough Times.
Looking for an answer to a frugal living question? Click here to ask a
Dollar Stretcher Stretchpert!
Copyright 1996 - 2013 "The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." All rights reserved unless specifically noted.
Contact the Dollar Stretcher at:
PO Box 14160
Bradenton FL 34280
"The Dollar Stretcher, Inc." does not assume responsibility for advice given. All advice should be weighed against your own abilities and circumstances and applied accordingly. It is up to the reader to determine if advice is safe and suitable for their own situation.