Friday, April 11, 2008

Our New Dehydrator

We recently decided to get a dehydrator, mostly so we could dehydrate meats and organs to use as treats for Luna, and also so Harmony can make fruit leathers, which are one of her absolute favorite snacks of all time. Cutting out a lot of useless details, we got a very good deal on an Nesco American Harvest FD-60 dehydrator, courtesy of eBay.

Notice that it has heat settings, which many dehydrators in this price range do not.

Here are some dehydrated liver strips that I have made so far. You'll notice that half of them look different. This particular liver was sliced very thin. Perhaps as a result of that, the "meat" heat setting ended up cooking the liver, which obviously you don't want for a raw diet. I guess this makes perfect sense if you are going to consume the dehydrated item yourself. But Luna's a dog and thus can handle uncooked organs. So next batch, I put it on the 105°F / 41°C degree temperature setting and turned it on as I left for work. If anyone comes here wondering how long to dehydrate it, Harmony checked it 7 hours later, and it was fine! I cracked one in half to make sure it wasn't cooked, and it surely was not cooked.

I would assume that most of the nutrients present in raw liver were preserved, seeing as 105°F is hardly hot enough to kill anything. We are still planning on feeding her raw un-dehydrated liver semi-frequently. The dehydrated bits provide a way for Harmony to feed Luna raw stuff, since Harmony doesn't like the ick factor.

If you ever consider using a dehydrator, I warn you that it can belch out the odor of whatever is dehydrating. It was not so noticeable while making fruit leathers last night, but it was quite noticeable when making dehydrating liver. So if you're dehydrating some kind of foul-smelling meat or organs, make sure to place the dehydrator out in the garage. Noise is hardly an issue with the FD-60, which is comparable to a dryer with the laundry room door closed.

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7 have poured out their souls in electronic text:

  • Ginny

    That is similar to my dehydrator. I use it for LOTS of stuff. It is a thing worth having, in my opinion. :-D (As opposed to other things... like... well... the previous post...!)

    (running and ducking into the bathroom to avoid missiles)

    heehee chuckle snort

  • JunkMale

    Hey now...the GT thing is "worth" having ;) What it is not worth for us would have been to pay for it, since I think this item goes for $40 on that website. plus shipping. But we got it totally for free :D

    Bathroom doors can be broken down. Beware.

  • Laura

    Mmm... fruit leathers, my favorite, too! How did they come out?

    Is the dehydrator hard to clean? I'd feel so icky eating from the same container as raw meat unless it could be properly disinfected! I'm sure I'm not alone in feeling this way. ;-)

  • JunkMale

    I'm not sure how they came out. We left the dehydrator going well into the night. I checked it this morning before going to work and it seemed pleasantly leathery, but I didn't have any. I gave some to Harmony, but since it was around 6 AM, she does not remember what it tasted like. You'll have to wait on her to comment.

    All the non-perforated parts are easy to clean (i.e. the fruit leather tray(s) and the bottom part). The heating element is on top, has no contact with foodstuffs, and thus does not need to be cleaned. The perforated trays might be a bit harder, but I have read that you can put them through the dishwasher (not that that's a complete fail-safe). I might label some trays as Luna-only. And I might spritz them down with lemon juice, vinegar, alcohol, etc. I think I can also scrub them down with dish soap, as the trays are not the sponge-ruiners that our mandolin tray is.

  • Harmony

    The fruit leathers came out really well for a first attempt.

    The recipe was really simple: unsweetened applesauce + cinnamon. Pour over the fruit leather tray, spread somewhat evenly, and let go.

    There was one part that wasn't totally dry, and the rest of the leather was too thin (I had read you should pile up the fruit to 1/2" thickness, but I thought that sounded too thick. Apparently I was wrong. ;-)

    DEFINITELY worth doing again.

    Personally, I'm excited about fruit leathers (obviously), as well as drying herbs, peppers (to make homemade paprika and ground hot pepper), and as extra insurance in drying seeds. The possibilities are great. :)

  • Alan

    So, are we saying that bichon-poodles in nature have access to dehydrated meat? Or are we abandoning the natural diet philosophy? ;-)

  • JunkMale

    It is a well known fact that in the wild, bichon-poodles are known to take down ungulates and other such prey animals. In the absence of prey animals, the savage bichon-poodle will also resort to cannibalism and other barbarism.

    When they kill an animal on the Saharan plain, they will oftentimes not finish the whole thing, being that they average only 10 pounds, most of it pure ferocity. As it is very hot and dry in the Sahara, this leads to natural dehydration of leftovers, which they will devour at a later time, after proper ripening.

    So the answer is no, of course we are not abandoning the natural diet philosophy.