The Year of the Dehydrator

We’ve wanted to invest in a food dehydrator for a long time, and for Christmas J surprised me with a TSM D-10 Stainless Steel model! I couldn’t be happier with the sleek, square design with plentiful space, and in knowing the reputation of the manufacturer, The Sausage Maker in Buffalo, NY.

Our main interest was in drying meat to make jerky, but there are sooo many uses for our new toy. Here’s a panel on the control space showing suggested temperatures for the various applications.

To make our first batch of beef jerky, J chose a flank steak and cut strips both with and against the grain of the meat. Cutting with the grain supposedly gave a more chewy texture, while cutting against the grain provides a crunchy texture. We selected and tweaked two differing recipes, and divided the with-grain and against-grain cuts into equal parts, and sealed each grouping into bags of marinade for 12 hours. The next day, J took the pieces from his marinade, and tenderized the strips.

Couldn't find the ol' meat mallet, so he improvised. Pounded the 1/4 inch strips to 1/8 inch thickness.

His marinade has a hint of heat owing to chili pepper flakes, but also contains honey. My marinade is sweeter, made with brown sugar, smoked paprika, liquid smoke. Both marinades contain Worcestershire and soy sauce, with other seasonings.

His marinade on the left, mine on the right.

Cover plate slides on, and has a hole in the center for a thermometer. The vents blow out the best scents of all time. The jerky stays in for 4-5 hours at ~150 degrees.

FINISHED! Mine in the forefront.

J's jerky is darker, and you can see the chili pepper flakes.

We can’t be humble here: the jerky is seriously the best we’ve ever had! We didn’t add any preservatives like sodium nitrate, so our jerky would be refrigerated if we planned to keep it longer than a month (and we knew it would be devoured in days). Great success in our first round of jerky making, and no botulism so far!

For round 2, we tweaked our first marinades, and did a third with teriyaki sauce as a main component. Using a large eye of round, J cut 1/4 thick strips both against and with the grain. He also chose not to tenderize the strips this time, to compare the texture with the last batch.

From eye of roundsville...

...to jerky city!

Next on the list was experimentation with some mangoes and kiwis, with excellent results! I washed and peeled the mangoes, and just washed the kiwis. I cut 1/4-1/2 inch strips off the mangoes, then sliced the kiwis (skin on) in 1/4 inch rounds. Dipping all of the fruit in pineapple juice to prevent browning, I then arranged the pieces on the stainless steel racks.

After ~9 hours at 130 degrees, we had kiwis with lip-puckering flavour, and deliciously sweet mango slices. I have no need for candy ever again!

Today I assembled 5 bananas, 3 cups of cherries, 4 pounds of red delicious apples, and a pineapple for more experimentation! I cut the pineapple into 1/2 inch rounds, and then quartered each piece. I washed the apples, cut off the tops and bottoms, and then made 1/4 inch slices. Using an icing tip, I easily removed the core on each piece. The bananas were sliced into 1/2 inch pieces. The cherries were sliced in half and pitted. I used pineapple juice on the bananas and apples to prevent browning.

Update:

I dried for 16 hours at 130 degrees, plucking out pieces that were finished starting in the 8th hour. Cherries and most plump pineapple pieces took the longest amount of time. Yield: 4 cups of apples, 2 cups of pineapple, 1 cup of bananas, 1/2 cup of cherries. I should mention something about a literal 'sampling' error.

I tried a few banana slices and cherries in my morning cereal, and both were delightful! I can’t wait to have my pantry lined with jars of organic, harvested in-season fruits and veggies, ready to eat. Do you dehydrate? What did you start with, and what are your favourites now??

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