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I am curious - how many cruisers routinely dehydrate food while they are cruising ?

I am in the process of building a larger dehydrator for making jerky, drying fruit, making fruit leather, and that type of thing to replace the small one I have and it made me curious if anyone else dehydrates food for camping or for cruising. I have heard of people drying fish but I have not ever done that.

What kind of things do you dehydrate, how do you manage it on the boat ?
 

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My buddy used to dehydrate beef roast, sliced thin. I would think it will depend on your preference of marinade, for the flavor. Then just vacuum bag it.
 

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A buddy of mine (an avid hiker) recently told me of his experience of making taco meat (from hamburger) and dehydrating that. He says he will routinely have it mailed to him while on a long trip and when he reconstitutes it is perfect.
 

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and when he reconstitutes it is perfect.
I wonder how he does that? I have used a wide range of veggies that are reconstituted by soaking them in water. I can't imagine what dried meat soaked in water will be like.

Most dried meats (and fish) are heavily salted and spiced and they tend to bring on a mean thirst. We avoid them on our boat.
 

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We often take dried meat when yachting, hiking, or staying in remote cabins. It’s a reliable source of supply that can be just kept in plastic bags on a cupboard shelf although, depending on how well it’s been done, may last even longer if cooled or refrigerated.

Its easy to make oneself, can last a long time, tastes OK and can be used for other activities such as fishing bait. It’s also good for chewing on when on helm for longish periods.

We have a dehydrator, but with meat we usually cut steak into thin strips, hang it over a homemade frame made of nylon fishing line, and dry it in the sun. No salt or other additive, just meat. Needs about 7-8 hours of direct sunlight. Also sometimes do this with fish. They don’t have any decay since the sun not only quickly kills any bacteria but forms a dry skin on the outside so that flies or similar don’t seem to take any interest.

Some years ago we drove up the coast of Norway, near the PolarCirkel, in late summer and saw lots of racks on the foreshore with fish split down the backbone drying. Talked later to a Norwegian involved in their fishing industry who said they didn’t salt those fish at all and they lasted for quite a long time. I don’t remember how long now.
 

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knuterikt

Thanks for the feedback on drying fish.

It was that Norwegian system which gave us the idea for preserving our meat/fish the way we do. Although we rely primarily on the hot sun because of our different climate (northern New Zealand).

The Wikipedia article mentions the Norwegian fish being on the racks from February to May. I think the Norwegian I spoke to - Ola Flaten - said they did cod this way around this time of year. But I told him we were there in August which was when we observed fish drying in the open. He said that later in the year it was another kind of fish - I've forgotten the name - so maybe the Wikipedia article is incomplete.

Anyway it was a hot summer up there when we passed through. All sold out of beer and icecream north of the PolarCirkel.
 

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I dehydrate food for long canoe trips more than sailing trips. That said, tacos or hamburger helper type food is very nice to have after a few days on the river. I dehydrate ground turkey (wife can't eat beef) all the time. It works very well.

Brown the meat in a frying pan as you normally would.
I don't tend to add much for spice at this time, but I suppose you could.
(I have, I just think it works better later.)
When the meat is done, drain it and cook for a few more minutes stirring often. You want it just a touch over cooked.
Then drain thoroughly.
Spread the meat out in your dehydrator and turn on. I usually dehydrate mine for almost 2 days.
When finished it will be similar to dry dog food. Very light weight, brittle, and dusty dry.
I place in ziplock bags, by the pound (weight before dehydrating)

To reheat, soak on low heat, in warm water for up to an hour. Do not boil.
Test occasionally for texture of the meat. When texture returns, drain and fry the excess water off. Now add spices or sauces.

It's not exactly like fresh meat, but it is pretty close. It smells and tastes damn good after a hard day's paddle. I would use it sailing without question.
 

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We dehydrate a lot of things for trips:
-mangos
-plums
-watermelon (don't laugh, it's great)
-bananas
-blended apple sauce and other fruits for fruit bars
-diced chicken breasts
-ground turkey
-ground chicken
-bacon (our own bacon bits)
-extra peppers and onions for soups

I've started experimenting with dehydrating sauces. Some say it can be done with tomato sauce, etc. I can't seem to get it quite right though.
 

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I noticed that in the title, the question of while you are cruising was involved.
My question is for all that have answered, who uses a dehydrator while cruising, and what impact does this have on your electricity budget?
I like the rack and dry idea especially for that freshly caught fish you can't eat in one sitting.
 

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I think power would be an issue. But I feel it would be fairly easy to construct a collapsible solar drying box and use a small fan to increase circulation.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Part of the reason that I have a dehydrator is to dry food so I have it when I go hiking, biking, camping, etc. Dehydrated food is very light weight in addition to storing well without refrigeration and it can be easily rehydrated on the trail when you are cooking it, so it is really a perfect trail food. The new dehydrator I am building to replace my old dehydrator is so I will have the ability to dry large buys of food at one time instead of having to buy smaller quantities, sometimes you just get 20lbs of something all at once on sale or from someone's garden, and I think it will be the same out in the world when I take it on the boat, I feel I am likely to find large buys of things and want to dehydrate them all at once to store them in bulk. I plan to spend a lot of time away from my boat when I am cruising and need trail foods.

I like the solar dehydrator idea but I have never tried solar dehydrating, I wonder how well that would work. Even if it just worked for some things like fruit and vegetables and not for other things like jerky, it would still help to have something that could be used part of the time without any electricity. My home built dehydrator uses a 60 watt light bulb, which can be powered from boat power, but it is still 60 watts that I wouldn't use if I did not have to.

Another reason I want a dehydrator on the boat is that my boat doesn't and won't have refrigeration, so it is harder for me to store chunks of dead animals. I either have to use canned meat, can meat myself, or I need to be able to turn meat into jerky and store it dehydrated.
 
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