This article speaks specifically about a particular model of electric food dryer, the Ezi-Dry Ultra 1000, however, the instructions are just as valid for other similar brands of dryer.

One of the key features of the new models is the fact that on the 55-60 degree setting. it automatically ups the temperature by a few degrees in the initial drying stages. Especially important for the beef jerky, I have found with my experience with drying. I run the machine as I'm preparing the trays one at a time. The machine is up and running and the drying process starts immediately rather than the gradual build up in temperature if you just switch it on after you place the trays in (only need a few minutes, till the warm/hot air comes out the top).

With the actual art of drying, it is all trial and error, but, oh what fun. There are factors with affect the rate of drying, mostly atmospheric, altitude, preparation and the mysterious disappearance of fruit from the machine whilst drying!!

Durability: Tops, trays, mesh, spacers are fully washable. Bases, being electrical, are not to be immersed into water, but only require a soapy cloth wipe over.

Pre-treatment/Dips: Fruit you can generally just place on trays. Vegies sometimes require blanching, depending on what it is (blanching slows down the enzyme reaction).

About the only dip I use is lemon juice for the bananas and apples. (You can also use pineapple juice as well). This keeps the colour and appearance of the fruit remarkably well. You can also coat fruit with freshly grated coconut for added texture as well.

One of the important requirements of drying is to use only good quality fruit with no bruises. The whole jar full will spoil if any bad or blemished fruit is used. I have followed this rule, and to date have not had any losses. It pays to check the produce periodically.

Storage: Produce such as fruit and vegies, fruit leathers, beef jerky can be stored in an airtight, metal lids glass jar (jam jar), or any preserving jar (all glass). Yoghurt roll-ups are stored in the fridge long term (if they last that long).

If anyone has access to a cryovac machine, this is an excellent way of preparing food for camping, bushwalking. All that is needed is to divide the food into portions and seal in bags, less the air, and then the individual bags can be stored in a plastic container (to keep out the wild life). Saves carrying extra weight. Great for beef jerky, vegie stews (dried on solid sheets), snacks, etc.

When storing goods, try and expel as much air as possible by filling jars as full as possible. Store in a cool dark area. Mine is stored in a kitchen drawer.

Eating!! Fruit can be eaten as dried fruit or reconstituted with water. Fruit can also be reconstituted into a fruit drink. Dried vegies can be steamed or placed in enough water to reconstitute them, or place in casseroles or stews. Dried tomatoes make into an excellent paste.

The produce won't take on the appearance it was before drying, but the convenience of having it on hand, either grown in abundance or bought economically, for the times when it may not be in season are big pluses. Gives a whole new meaning of having a garden in the cupboard.

Fruit and yoghurt leathers are eaten as they are, a favorite with the kids.

How Thick Do I Cut? Generally I have found around a quarter to a third of an inch a good thickness. If the fruit has a high water content, a little thicker.

Some people just dry halves. e.g. mangoes, peel the skin, cut either side of the seed and place on tray. This takes a little longer drying time, that's all.

What Can I Dry? All kinds of produce, lean meat, fish, dairy products, cooked rice, potpourri materials.

Applesusually require pre-treatment, sliced
Bananasusually require pre-treatment, sliced
Grapeswhole, or sliced in half, lovely!!
Watermelonsliced a half inch thick, like candy
Pineapplesliced in rings, or I prefer sliced from the top down, this leaves a honeycomb texture, easily crumbled, and a great substitute for sugar, or to garnish food (core taken out)
Orangessliced into sections
Citrus Peelsliced
Stone fruitsliced in half, seed removed, use judgment of thickness
Capsicumacross in rings, or in strips
Onionin rings
Figssliced in two or whole
Pearssliced in two
Guavassliced in half or thirds
Papawssliced in one-third-inch thickness
Berry fruitsliced or whole
Vegiescheck requirement for blanching
Potpourrias it is, may require spacer tray if large items
Fruit/Yoghurt Leatherspuree and place on plastic sheets yoghurt, approx 1 litre per tray, may like to add additional fruit. Store in cool place
Riceplace cooked rice on solid trays. To use, just add hot or cold water, instant rice. A great time saver. Same application with noodles.
Cheeseplace grated cheese on solid trays. Store in jar
Museli Bars 1 pkt of Cerola Muesli
a couple tablespoons of your favourite honey
200 - 500 grms yoghurt (depending on crunchy or chewy)
1 - 2 cups of diced fresh fruit
Oil solid sheets with some vegetable oil. Approximate drying time 24 hours.
Beef JerkyKnuckle of round steak, slice into one-quarter-inch thick slices, make up a marinade mix, place meat, marinade, meat, marinade, etc in layers and let stand for at least 4 - 5 hours then slice into one-inch-width strips. Place on solid sheet trays for 8 - 10 hours.
Important not to have any fat left on as this will go rancid and spoil.
M. Schmidt

DATE: August 1999

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