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Backpacker Magazine – April 2001

Dehydrate Your Trail Food

Who says you need water in your food? Dehydrate your vittles and you'll carry less weight, save money, and eat better.

by: Diane Bailey

Dehydrator vs. Oven
By D. Bailey and Linda Frederick Yaffee

Cost Of Setup$30-$300, depending on size and features; available at most department storesNone, assuming you have an oven
Temperature ControlLook for models with an adjustable thermostat and a fan (these typically cost $120 to $300)Remove the top heting element or place an empty baking sheet on the oven's top shelf. Dry food on the lower shelves. Use the warm setting and monitor the temperature with an oven thermometer to be sure it stays at or below 145ºF. Check and rotate food often
VentilationA fan keep air moving across food surfaces for faster, more efficient dryingOpen oven door slightly-1 or 2 inches for an electric oven, 5 or 6 inches for a gas oven-for air circulation and evaporation. Placing an electric fan in front of the oven also helps
AccessoriesPurchase solid trays for making leathers, mesh inserts to keep small food pieces from falling through, and special dishes for making yogurtUse cookie sheets for drying liquids. Place food pieces directly on oven racks, wire cooling racks, or cheesecloth to dehydrate
Suitable FoodsLimited only by your creativityBest for small, occasional batches of food, since heating the oven for the time required uses a lot of energy. Minimum oven temperatures are often higher than the ideal for fruits and vegetables

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