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Thread: Dehydrator woes

  1. #1
    desertgardener Guest

    Default Dehydrator woes

    Looking for a critical eye to see if I'm doing something wrong with the dehydrator (an American Harvest Snackmaster). I've been using it for 20 years but something's not right; don't know if it's me or I need a new one. I'm drying tomatoes; always start with 6 full trays; temperature 130F; same variety of tomatoes sliced the same way every time.
    I dried two loads of tomatoes a few weeks ago, no problems. Next load I noticed some of the tomatoes looked black as though they were burnt. Tasted burnt. So I tossed them and lowered the temperature. Next load about 25% of them looked burnt. WTH? I went back to my manual, yep, all my settings had been right before. Ran another load, everything's fine, no burnt. Started load #6. This morning all of them look burnt. Threw them all out.
    I thought maybe the thermostat in the unit is overheating erratically (it has not seemed overly warm when I pull off the top); or maybe the tomatoes have more sugar than usual due to our really high heat? Or maybe the temperature in the house makes a difference? It has been seriously hot outside, weonly run the swamp cooler and it got almost 90F inside yesterday (you're thinking why isn't she drying the tomatoes outside in weather like that? I'mworking on it...lots of blowing dirt here).
    What do you think? Anything I should try, or just dump it and buy a new one?

    Cyndi


  2. #2
    Chemiker Guest

    Default Re: Dehydrator woes

    On Mon, 13 Aug 2012 18:54:13 -0700 (PDT), desertgardener
    <[email protected]> wrote:

    >Looking for a critical eye to see if I'm doing something wrong with the dehydrator (an American Harvest Snackmaster). I've been using it for 20 years but something's not right; don't know if it's me or I need a new one. I'm drying tomatoes; always start with 6 full trays; temperature 130F; same variety of tomatoes sliced the same way every time.
    >I dried two loads of tomatoes a few weeks ago, no problems. Next load I noticed some of the tomatoes looked black as though they were burnt. Tasted burnt. So I tossed them and lowered the temperature. Next load about 25% of them looked burnt. WTH? I went back to my manual, yep, all my settings had been right before. Ran another load, everything's fine, no burnt. Started load #6. This morning all of them look burnt. Threw them all out.
    >I thought maybe the thermostat in the unit is overheating erratically (it has not seemed overly warm when I pull off the top); or maybe the tomatoes have more sugar than usual due to our really high heat? Or maybe the temperature in the house makes a difference? It has been seriously hot outside, we only run the swamp cooler and it got almost 90F inside yesterday (you're thinking why isn't she drying the tomatoes outside in weather like that? I'm working on it...lots of blowing dirt here).
    >What do you think? Anything I should try, or just dump it and buy a new one?
    >
    >Cyndi
    >

    You need to do this..... I did. Take one drying tray and drill a small
    hole in the edge, just big enough to insert the probe of a cooking
    thermometer. Makes no different whether it's instant read, standard or
    electronic, so long as the range matches the range of settings on your
    dryer. Insert the thermometer probe. Now, put the tray in place ( top,
    low, bottom) and set your thermostat at different temps (like 105,
    120, 135, whatever your model provides.

    Turn on your dryer and record the temps each of the different
    positions at each test temperature on the thermostat. (Remove your
    leather-making trays to allow free air movement.) You will develop a
    chart of temps which will probably vary somewhat from your thermostat
    settings. From this data you will know what temps your food is
    actually drying at.

    For me this is standard practice, as I have over a dozen trays on my
    HarvestMaster and sometimes just 10 degrees will make a difference in
    the finished product (especially aromatic herbs). If and when you add
    more trays, you will be able to make the correct settings on your
    snackmaster thermostat with confidence.

    In answer to your other question, I do not believe the thermostat on
    the SnackMaster is self-compensating for room temperature. Either way,
    if your thermostat is out of kilter, you'll know it from your
    temperature chart.

    Chart will look like:

    Position: Low Med Hi
    Setting 1 105 105 105
    TrueTemp 109 107 104

    Setting 2 125 125 125
    TrueTemp 121 120 118

    etc.

    Sometimes I find it necessary (like when making my jerky) to put the
    meat on 2-4 trays in the top position, with at least 6 trays below
    them. That way the meat trays are more heated more uniformly and I get
    a more consistent product.

    HTH,

    Alex

  3. #3
    George Shirley Guest

    Default Re: Dehydrator woes

    On 8/13/2012 8:54 PM, desertgardener wrote:
    > Looking for a critical eye to see if I'm doing something wrong with the dehydrator (an American Harvest Snackmaster). I've been using it for 20 years but something's not right; don't know if it's me or I need a new one. I'm drying tomatoes; always start with 6 full trays; temperature 130F; same variety of tomatoes sliced the same way every time.
    > I dried two loads of tomatoes a few weeks ago, no problems. Next load I noticed some of the tomatoes looked black as though they were burnt. Tasted burnt. So I tossed them and lowered the temperature. Next load about 25% of them looked burnt. WTH? I went back to my manual, yep, all my settings had been right before. Ran another load, everything's fine, no burnt. Started load #6. This morning all of them look burnt. Threw them all out.
    > I thought maybe the thermostat in the unit is overheating erratically (it has not seemed overly warm when I pull off the top); or maybe the tomatoes have more sugar than usual due to our really high heat? Or maybe the temperature in the house makes a difference? It has been seriously hot outside, we only run the swamp cooler and it got almost 90F inside yesterday (you're thinking why isn't she drying the tomatoes outside in weather like that? I'm working on it...lots of blowing dirt here).
    > What do you think? Anything I should try, or just dump it and buy a new one?
    >
    > Cyndi
    >
    >

    Long time no see Cyndi, sounds like the thermostat is going wonky on
    you. You can probably replace it easily. Take the top of the heat unit
    off and take a look, if you still have the American Harvest manual you
    might be able to go online and buy one to replace the old one. Other
    than that take the old one to Radio Shack and see if they have a
    replacement with the same settings and close in size. Much cheaper than
    replacing the whole unit.

    I've had my AH Snackmaster Jr. for about twenty years with, so far, no
    problems. The thermostat on mine has only one setting so no ups and
    downs with it. I learned to use it by timing loads as they went and by
    feel and the look of the dehydrated veggies. Only paid $16.00 for it at
    Walmart when new and then bought four more trays at a garage sale to end
    up with eight trays. Cut some nylon netting to put on the trays for
    small stuff like oregano and rosemary so it doesn't drop onto other
    trays. The AH units seem to be pretty reliable for such a low price so I
    haven't upgraded in years.

    George

  4. #4
    desertgardener Guest

    Default Re: Dehydrator woes

    I'll try drilling the hole and see what my cooking thermometer says. Worth a try anyway.
    Maybe DH will be interested enough to try and replace the thermostat. Gottabe cheaper than the dehydrator he was looking at in the Cabela's catalog.
    If I were home more it would be easier to check on the stuff but this summer I seem to have bad timing. That last batch, I swear those tomatoes were half liquid when I went to bed and next morning they were black - but not crispy, just black. Oh well I put up 62 pounds of them in various forms last weekend so I guess a few lost dehydrator loads are not so terrible.
    Glad to see you're still well-preserved George!!

  5. #5
    George Shirley Guest

    Default Re: Dehydrator woes

    On 8/15/2012 11:58 PM, desertgardener wrote:
    > I'll try drilling the hole and see what my cooking thermometer says. Worth a try anyway.
    > Maybe DH will be interested enough to try and replace the thermostat. Gotta be cheaper than the dehydrator he was looking at in the Cabela's catalog.
    > If I were home more it would be easier to check on the stuff but this summer I seem to have bad timing. That last batch, I swear those tomatoes were half liquid when I went to bed and next morning they were black - but not crispy, just black. Oh well I put up 62 pounds of them in various forms last weekend so I guess a few lost dehydrator loads are not so terrible.
    > Glad to see you're still well-preserved George!!
    >

    So far I've lost twenty lbs, just packing out the garage. Temps in there
    must be well over 110F during the day. All we have left is the art room.
    That rented storage locker is getting more stuff in it today. Hopefully
    by next week we will be able to put the house on the market. I still
    have to pack out the pantry, will be getting all my jar cases out of the
    closet today and will have to label them.

    All we need to do is find a house that fits us that has a large pantry,
    no one builds them like that anymore, pantries are like little closets
    next to the kitchen. May have to convert a spare bedroom.

  6. #6
    gloria p Guest

    Default Re: Dehydrator woes

    On 8/16/2012 5:29 AM, George Shirley wrote:

    >
    > All we need to do is find a house that fits us that has a large pantry,
    > no one builds them like that anymore, pantries are like little closets
    > next to the kitchen. May have to convert a spare bedroom.



    That was going to be my suggestion as long as the spare bedroom isn't at
    the far end of the house.

    gloria p

  7. #7
    George Shirley Guest

    Default Re: Dehydrator woes

    On 8/16/2012 9:23 PM, gloria p wrote:
    > On 8/16/2012 5:29 AM, George Shirley wrote:
    >
    >>
    >> All we need to do is find a house that fits us that has a large pantry,
    >> no one builds them like that anymore, pantries are like little closets
    >> next to the kitchen. May have to convert a spare bedroom.

    >
    >
    > That was going to be my suggestion as long as the spare bedroom isn't at
    > the far end of the house.
    >
    > gloria p

    I could use the wee pantry to hold food to be eaten soon and the
    bedroom, aka large pantry, for all my canning supplies and canned goods.

    We did find one home that some smart person had combined the laundry
    room and the pantry into one larger room. Pantry end had plenty of
    shelving and it looks like more could be added. I'm a big fan of wire
    shelving, lets air circulate much easier than wooden shelving. That's
    how we put in shelving in our 6X9 pantry, have to have a step stool to
    get to the top shelves. That's where we put stuff we don't need on a
    daily basis. Things like the barroom style juicer, big trays, etc. Works
    for us. Heavy things like home canned food is much lower, easier on old
    people that way.

    We have actually culled out about a half ton of "stuff" around here. Ran
    up on a container full of odd shaped ceramic tiles yesterday, my sister
    gave them to me twenty years ago and I never got around to making a
    patio table out of them. Sent them over to the Knights of Columbus hall,
    they got lots of usable stuff from us as they are having a big garage
    sale this weekend.

    I found my ideal home online, just the right size with a big pantry and
    backed up to a stocked lake. All I need is for everyone on this group to
    kick in so I can buy a $500,000.00 house. <G> That would be this old
    man's dream, living next to a lake full of fish so I don't have to drive
    somewhere to catch dinner.

  8. #8
    NT Guest

    Default Re: Dehydrator woes

    On Aug 17, 12:41*pm, George Shirley <gmshir...@suddenlink.net> wrote:
    > On 8/16/2012 9:23 PM, gloria p wrote:> On 8/16/2012 5:29 AM, George Shirley wrote:
    >
    > >> All we need to do is find a house that fits us that has a large pantry,
    > >> no one builds them like that anymore, pantries are like little closets
    > >> next to the kitchen. May have to convert a spare bedroom.

    >
    > > That was going to be my suggestion as long as the spare bedroom isn't at
    > > the far end of the house.

    >
    > > gloria p

    >
    > I could use the wee pantry to hold food to be eaten soon and the
    > bedroom, aka large pantry, for all my canning supplies and canned goods.
    >
    > We did find one home that some smart person had combined the laundry
    > room and the pantry into one larger room. Pantry end had plenty of
    > shelving and it looks like more could be added. I'm a big fan of wire
    > shelving, lets air circulate much easier than wooden shelving. That's
    > how we put in shelving in our 6X9 pantry, have to have a step stool to
    > get to the top shelves. That's where we put stuff we don't need on a
    > daily basis. Things like the barroom style juicer, big trays, etc. Works
    > for us. Heavy things like home canned food is much lower, easier on old
    > people that way.
    >
    > We have actually culled out about a half ton of "stuff" around here. Ran
    > up on a container full of odd shaped ceramic tiles yesterday, my sister
    > gave them to me twenty years ago and I never got around to making a
    > patio table out of them. Sent them over to the Knights of Columbus hall,
    > they got lots of usable stuff from us as they are having a big garage
    > sale this weekend.
    >
    > I found my ideal home online, just the right size with a big pantry and
    > backed up to a stocked lake. All I need is for everyone on this group to
    > kick in so I can buy a $500,000.00 house. <G> That would be this old
    > man's dream, living next to a lake full of fish so I don't have to drive
    > somewhere to catch dinner.


    If the stats giving an inconsistent temp, clean its electrical
    contacts, and if theyre all lumpy sand them smooth with very fine
    paper. It'll then be reliable again. Be aware that doing this can
    alter the actual temp settings, check them before use again.


    NT

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