Drying Without a Dehydrator ???

homemadecountrylife(Zone 8A CA)August 14, 2011

I would like to start dehydrating foods without a dehydrator (no money for one yet), and I have a gas range. I have a few concerns about leaving the oven on overnight, if I have to. It sounds silly but I'm concerned about leaving my oven on for 12-16 hours or longer and running up a large gas bill. Does anyone have any helpful info and tips on drying food with your oven?

I used to have a food dehydrator until it broke, so drying by oven is new to me. Any help is very much appreciated :)

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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Given your zone is sun drying not an option? Much less expensive and no concerns with leaving the oven on. All sorts of plans available of the web for making solar dehydrators.

Plus what foods are we talking about? Some things dry quickly so overnight hours with the oven may not even be required.

Dave

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 4:01PM
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homemadecountrylife(Zone 8A CA)

Thank you for answering!

Yes, I had thought of using the sun, since I live in the High Desert and temps are in the high 90's and 100's. But shouldn't I worry about bacteria on my food after drying it out in the sun? And I was wondering if I should place some gauze on the foods too, to keep off the flies & bugs. What do you think?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 4:15PM
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digdirt2(6b-7a No.Cent. AR HZ8 Sun-35)

Most of the solar dyer plans I've seen include covering of some kind against insects - fiberglass screens, tulle fabric, cheesecloth, etc. Google 'solar dehydrator plans' and check out some of the plans. They range from a couple of cardboard boxes lined with foil to tulle tents full of clotheslines strung with all sorts of things to fancy solar chutes made of scrap lumber and foil.

I live on the shores of the lake so humidity is a real problem here but in your location as hot as it gets and as dry as the air is the bacteria wouldn't be any more of an issue than it would using an electric dryer. Plus many of the foods are salted or dipped in lemon juice first so they have a bit of acid protection.

Just something to consider.

Dave

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 4:28PM
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homemadecountrylife(Zone 8A CA)

Thank you for pointing me in that direction. I hadn't thought of a homemade solar dryer idea. Thank you, I'll be doing a search on that.
No, humidity is not a problem for us since we have dry heat.
And I hadn't thought of the acidity being on the fruits and veggies protecting them from bacteria growth. What about veggies like carrots or celery though, they don't need an acid dip, should I be concerned for them?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 5:02PM
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emily65

My friend's mother lived in the desert in New Mexico. She dried apricots in her car - windows closed.

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 6:37PM
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homemadecountrylife(Zone 8A CA)

Wow, now that's an idea. Does it really work? What has she dried?

    Bookmark   August 14, 2011 at 7:41PM
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homemadecountrylife(Zone 8A CA)

Success! I dried carrots out in the sun! Next time I'm going to leave them in circles instead of quartered pieces. But I'm just happy with the results! I also have a small rack of 3 peaches sliced up and drying too. We'll see how long they take. It's been about 10 hours out in 80-103 heat so it should be done soon or tomorrow. If it works I'll be making more! :)

Has anyone else tried this method too?

    Bookmark   August 16, 2011 at 8:40PM
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alphonse(6)

"I would like to start dehydrating foods without a dehydrator (no money for one yet), and I have a gas range."

My gas oven has a standing pilot light, meaning it is always lit. Of course that means added fuel costs, but in fact the oven serves well for drying foods and proofing yeasts. Temperature stays around 90F. Citrus rinds dry in eight hours,+/-. Topped jalapenos might take two days.

If you don't have a standing pilot but do have a lamp socket for the oven, installing a low wattage incandescent bulb will accomplish the same thing. You will have to experiment with wattage to attain target temperature. 60w is likely too hot for the standard oven.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 6:38AM
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2ajsmama

Not to hijack, but just a thought - anybody ever try drying small amounts in an Easy-Bake oven? Maybe with 40-60W bulb instead of the 100W bulb (do they make those any more?) that you're supposed to use for baking? I have an electric range and it's not worth heating up for small batches.

    Bookmark   August 17, 2011 at 7:03AM
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