I'm thinking of getting a dehydrator for making jerky and dried fruit, since I'm eating a fair bit of jerky these days and I`m not sure making it in the oven is that efficient. Does anybody have any recommendations?
If you want a really cheap and easy jerky maker, check out Lex Rooker's $10 cardboard box jerky maker with complete instruction.
I have not made it but I know there are many who have.
I recently purchased the Nesco FD-75PR and love it. I did some research before buying and ended up on this model due to a combination of price, capacity, expandability, included tray accessories, and lots of positive reviews. I mainly use it for jerky but have also done strawberries and bananas with great success.
My thoughts on this model:
Side note: There are some dehydrator models that have transparent exteriors so you can watch the dehydration without having to pull the thing apart. This seems pretty cool but my understanding is that exposing food to light throughout the dehydration process can result in diminished nutritional quality. I went with an opaque model to avoid worrying about that.
I picked up an Excalibur dehydrator three months ago and wouldn't trade it for anything! I dry 3-4 pounds of bison, lean beef and/or lamb every 1-2 weeks (wife & I are Paleo). I forgot the specific model number but it is around $200, has a timer, 5 rack and a dial that tells you what temp for what.
The way I prepare it is to get a roast, slice it in to 2 inch slabs (from the top down), partially freeze it (approx 45 min), slice the slabs in to 1/4 in slices, add pepper & cayanne and dehydrate! It's the best thing EVER! No salt, soy, sugar or random chemicals that you find in the store bought stuff.
I wish there were a picture of this but Alton Brown uses air conditioning filters and lays the strips in the grooves and then straps them together onto a fan. He says cold air works best for making jerky.
I love this! I was considering buying a dehydrator but it looks like you can get so much more surface area and spend a a fraction of what you would on a commercial unit. I swear alton is brilliant. Does anybody know of an organic or natural fiber air filter to use? I have looked all over the web with no luck. I know not to use the fiberglass ones and that he was most likely using a Filtre type of filter, but just wondering if there might be an alternative.
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