I'm looking at buying an excalibur, but I don't like the options for materials. They say polycarbonate is safe, blah blah blah, just like vitamix.
The teflon trays are out of the question, that's a horrible chemical, even if it were safe to keep in my home the production of it is so damaging. Parchment paper has silicone, they sell 'silicone' trays too I guess, I still don't like it.
I like stainless, glass, wood, stuff like that. I'm pretty handy, could I just cut my own glass to use as trays? They'd clean easy. Do I NEED the mesh? I can get stainless cloth, but it's expensive and it would be a pain to clean.
You need a surface that lets the air flow through... glass would hold too much moisture from the bottom.
If you do some internet searches there are lots of plans available to build your own.
You do need the mesh for many things. If you want to dehydrate fruits and vegetables, you need air to get to them and it won't with a solid tray. Solid trays are fine for runny or soft things like fruit leather or some breads, but they won't work for stuff that needs to be dried out like a crisp cracker. With a cracker you would start it on a solid tray and move it to mesh.
Originally Posted by Truth Frog
Hmmm....well, I HAVE a dehydrator, but I find that it's unnecessary most of the time, and I rarely ever use it. Sometimes I'll dry fruit when I fear that the rest of my apples will go bad or something if I don't...but I never use teflex trays and don't even own any. I find that dehydrated food often reminds me too much of cooked food.
If you google sausage and dehydrator you will find a company that sells several models of stainless steel dehydrators.
Info on Solar hydration:
Here is a link to a plan for a solar dehydrator for any handy folks out there.
I would use wood and skip the black plastic and use dark glass or fabric if plastics are a concern. I'm sure you'r handy enough to take the general concept and design one of your own.
I'm a DIY'er, I have a shop with lot's of metal-working and wood-working equipment. I have a huge stack of glass and I cut pieces up as I need them. I never buy ANYTHING without finding out exactly how to build it myself. So I will spend 20 hours building a $20 item, and that's exactly why this time I'm finally telling myself to buy and not build.
And then I get suggestions to build and not buy! Which never happens!
A solar dehydrator would be trivial to build, but at fall harvest I'll have hundreds of pounds of veggies and very little sun (Canada). So for me it's electric or nothing.
Now I'm thinking of building an electric convection dehydrator, even though I don't have time.
Actually, I should check before assuming since I'm not so experienced. Is it possible to use a solar dehydrator in Canada after harvest (Saskatchewan)? We're freezing right now but I'd like to dry a lot of it.
And I suppose I could make big batches of crackers and whatnot and they'd keep the winter. Maybe solar would work for me. I have all the materials right now and it probably wouldn't take longer than an afternoon to build.
You really need heat to dehydrate. Sorry!
I know people that have converted old fridges into dehydrators (electric). So it is possible!
I have the Sausage Maker stainless steel dehydrator, and I also have the Excaliber. I really love that of the Sausage Maker.
Truthfrog . . . I would like to start making flax crackers and such but I have difficulty with the materials as you stated. (I do have a dehydrator in storage.) Please let us know what you come up with.
one idea ive had on making natural material drying trays is to take 1x2 furring strips , on egde , and make like a picture frame . fastening at corners with dowel pins or screws . about 2' x 3' in size . then drill holes in the 3' long sides about every quarter inch on both sides . then thread some natural fiber twine or string etc from one side to the other , back and forth til youve strung a web across the entire frame . not sure exactly what type string ide use so that vegis wouldnt stick to it too badly .
then ide make a drying box out of sheet metal .
and use an electric space heater as heat element .
then hang a thermometer in box and experiment with heater settings til find the temp you want (115 or a little less) and its set .
box has to be vented ide say for moisture to escape .
maybe brush string with vegi oil so that vegis wont stick to it .
then replace string every so often .
could even make a drying box out of concrete block or brick sort of like a bbq , with a hinged / vented top .
then use hot hickory coals to make hickory smoked / dehydrated tomatos .
could also use the electric heater with the block drying box .
Years ago, Mother Earth News had plans for a dehydrator you build yourself. I bet you could still find it at their website.
Or just do a google search for "build a dehydrator"
I still have that copy of Mother Earth News, if you want the instructions out of it.
I guess while reading your original post I got the feeling you wanted to build and not buy...I must have misinterpreted your ponderings about glass shelves etc. Sorry to send you a build!
I too share your concern about "cooking" on plastic/teflon though I waffle on food grade silicone. Teflon is phasing out the "dangerous" part of their formula but what does that mean really?
I'm a natural materials person too. I was also toying with getting the excaliber and making new surfaces to dry on. Glass will work for half the process, but one really needs air to flow after setting out blitzed fruit for "fruit rolls" and to really get other things thoroughly dry. The air needs to circulate. The heat is needed to dry...or cold (cold air is drier)...Canada outside weather in winter may be perfect for drying. (freeze drying on a much less extreme scale)
Perhaps natural fabrics which would wick moisture away but are till porous? Unbleached muslin pulled taut in a frame on glass to set foods...then the glass is taken away so the stuff can dry? A screen would be ideal but what material? Are we reinventing the wheel?
hahaha! Let me know if you all have brainstorms! My over analyzing brain is getting the better of me.
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