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Backcountry Kitchen The Backcountry Kitchen forum is for the discussion of food and cooking gear related topics for backpacking trips (e.g. menus, recipes, stoves, fuel...).


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  #1  
Old 06-08-2014, 09:24 PM
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Burnt Burnt is offline
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Can food be dehydrated too long?

I am a long time back packer but till very recently have just started making my own dehydrated food. I bought a nesco dehydrator and am busy drying fruit and some meals. My question is can you over dehydrate your meals. All the meals I make are vegan but if I forget and leave something going too long will that affect the meal? How dried out should the veggies be? Pliable or dried out like pasta?
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  #2  
Old 06-08-2014, 11:21 PM
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dsuursoo dsuursoo is offline
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if i'm remembering right, for dehydrated as opposed to freeze-dried, you want slightly pliable. dry and you get something more like the veggies in ramen.

not very appetizing, or good-tasting, for that matter.
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  #3  
Old 06-09-2014, 11:17 AM
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striker striker is offline
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Different fruits, veggies, meats, whole meals, etc. will have different textures when done. You may consider checking out a book on dehydrating from your local library as a reference to get started. As a rule of thumb, things like fruits and veggies are dry enough when you can't squeeze moisture out of them. Break a piece in half and press with your fingers, if you see moisture its not done.

Yes, it is possible to over-dry something but I would say that it is very hard to ruin food that way. I have left veggies, fruit and jerky in too long. Things go from pliable but dry to crisp. That being said, I have never dried something so much that I found it inedible, especially for things that you will rehydrate to eat. Due to the variables involved in home processing -- how small you cut things, ripeness, ambient humidity, etc -- there is going to be some natural variation in your product.

I wouldn't stress out about it too much. In my experience, it is better to leave something in a little bit too long and end up with a slightly crisp product than not dry it long enough and have your food go bad. Whole meals in particular are very hard to overdry. If you aren't sure keep drying it and see what happens. You will learn the perfect time to take things out as you get experience with your dehydrator. I generally find the listed times to be WAY off.
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Old 06-09-2014, 05:03 PM
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Grandpa Grandpa is offline
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I'm sort of known around the family for over drying my food, however, when I get on the trail, my standards change and everything becomes gourmet fare and tastes fine to me. I don't have a five second rule at home, but if something even marginally edible gets dropped while camping, you'll hear, "We're camping!" and the food gets gobbled after a quick dust off. We even have a saying that something is "camp clean", which describes a level of cleanliness that's a long way from godliness.
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Old 06-10-2014, 10:50 PM
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GGervin GGervin is offline
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I agree with Stryker that over-drying really isn't a big problem. I did manage to slightly burn some dehydrated veggies (broccoli maybe?) once. But that was only once. It's not that easy to do. The burned veggies weren't particularly good, but still edible.

The real key is to practice plenty before packaging your backpacking meals (and eat the meals at home to test for taste). Do that, and I'm sure you'll be fine.

For perspective, I once added 2 tablespoons of curry powder to all my backpacking dinners instead of 2 teaspoons. It took considerable intestinal resolve to finish any of my dinners that trip. Under any other circumstances, they would have been inedible, but they were all I had to eat. Over-drying your veggies will never screw things up as bad as over-spicing.
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  #6  
Old 06-11-2014, 08:11 AM
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Grandpa Grandpa is offline
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That reminds me of the time my sister used a cup of salt in a pie crust. Fifty five years later, I'd bet that thing still exists somewhere...
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Old 06-11-2014, 11:28 PM
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Burnt Burnt is offline
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Thanks for the input sounds like a little trial and error is needed. I am heading out to try a few creations this weekend. Not overly worried as all food seems to taste better after a days hike.
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  #8  
Old 06-25-2014, 08:14 AM
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atraildreamer atraildreamer is offline
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I have found that frozen vegetables from the supermarket dry very well in a Nesco. The product is usually a uniform cut, size, etc., and can go straight to the dryer rack without blanching. I store the finished product in empty peanut butter jars. I have used stuff that was 8 months old and got good results.
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  #9  
Old 06-25-2014, 03:25 PM
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Grandpa Grandpa is offline
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I will second the frozen veggies. I've dehydrated frozen green beans and they rehydrate very well. A pound of cut frozen ones was quite a bit cheaper than fresh ones.
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  #10  
Old 09-15-2014, 06:48 AM
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Ralph Ralph is offline
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I think dehydration (and rehydration) works best when the pieces are fairly even in size. Unless you are really good with a knife, mechanical cutters or shredders do this nicely. My old friend and I picked up one of the hand-crank apple peeler and slicers for making dehydrated apples. This peels and cores the apple and slices it into a nice continuous coil. A single knife cut makes a series of rings or the entire coil can be hung to air dry. A "mandolin" type slicer cuts potatoes, onions and other vegetables and fruits quickly into nice, even slices. If you are taking advantage of seasonal sales, speed of processing is important.

You can over-dry stuff, rendering it brittle. Jerky, for instance should be fairly limp when hot. making it stiff in the dehydrator will result in meat that powders rather than chews. This is a plus, though, when making pemmican where the meat wants to be powdered or very finely shredded before mixing with the fat and fruit.
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