Introduction: Plastic Box Jerky/biltong Maker and Dehydrator.

Picture of Plastic Box Jerky/biltong Maker and Dehydrator.

I was thinking about getting a dehydrator for fruit and vegetables, I also like tofu and beef jerky and biltong.....
I live in france in a rural region where people still hunt boars and bucks, so wild meat is easy to get and dried boar ham is one of my favourite meat.......excuse my english, I'm sure I can explain...

most of the dehydrators on the market were a little too expensive (I wasn't sure I was going to use it intensively....)

so I searched the internet for home-made stuff and this is what I got: 


             http://www.popularmechanics.co.za/article/make-your-own-biltong-dryer-in-an-afternoon-2010-05-13




this is a very common type of dehydrator made by people looking for a cheap efficient way to dry food at home.

other types were made of cardboard boxes or wood, but plastic had the advantage of durability and was easier to clean.....

so this is what you need:

Step 1: Stuff Needed: Around 30 Euros...

Picture of Stuff Needed: Around 30 Euros...

I got the whole stuff in less than one hour at the local hardware and computer shop....

-one storage box (this one is 30x30x25cm), mine was clear because soooooo cheap, I used duct tape to help light reflect instead of going out the box and lighting the whole room.
some people used aluminium foil...but you'd better choose a black box...

-one computer fan (this one is 9x9cm and 12w) and a converter.

-plastic rods (metal or wood would work too)

-aluminium screen (lighter than steel, plastic would have been better, but I couldn't get any...)

-screens for the exit of hot air (those ones come from an old computer, they have a type of plastic wool to protect from dust or insects)

-a 100w bulb is good, mine is 60w.

-bulb stand, electric wire, plug and a connection thing.

-glue, duct tape, saw, dremel, good music and a cold beer.


I don't have a dremel, but I strongly recommend it as those strorage box are a bit fragile and mine broke on several spots while drilling.....that's why I had to wrap it with duct tape.

Step 2: Let's Go!

Picture of Let's Go!

first take your time to draw the points where the rods will be glued......think about the high you will need ti fit the screens, the bulb and its stand, and the fan depending if you fasten it inside or outside....dont mess up....

as you can see, my drilling was goofy....this kind of plastic breaks easily.....I fixed it with a duct tape wraping.....

drill carefully!!!!!!

Step 3: Cut and Glue the Rods ....and Make the Box Darker

Picture of Cut and Glue the Rods ....and Make the Box Darker

not that easy because the plastic is quite thin and you have to be precise cutting the rods if you don't want them to exit on the side of the box.....no big deal though...

I used standard glue, but I put a little "pattex no more nails" under each rod to make it more solid....



the duct tape make the stuff a little "quick and dirty, but I had to make it more solid because of the cracks I made while drilling.
black paint does the same if you didn't choose a dark box.....(why are dark boxes more expensive than clear ones?)

Step 4: Cut the Openings for the Fan, the Bulb and the Air Screens.

Picture of Cut the Openings for the Fan, the Bulb and the Air Screens.

I had to cut them with a hot knife, but a dremel would have been better.... and I mean MUCH better...

be precise, it will be easier to fasten the stuff later.

Step 5: Insert the Fan, Bulb and Air Screens.

Picture of Insert the Fan, Bulb and Air Screens.

the easiest part....

then make it airtight by surrounding them with duct tape...

Step 6: Plug It All

Picture of Plug It All

easy....

I let a female plug hanging next to the bulb stand in order to plug the 12v converter for the fan (connections are hidden by duct tape)

Step 7: The Screens....

Picture of The Screens....

cut the screens to the desired dimension, caution, if cut too large, they might be hard to put and remove...

the last picture shows em in position.
I bend them a little to make it easier to put in and out.

Step 8: Thoughts for a Better Jerky/biltong Box.............

Picture of Thoughts for a Better Jerky/biltong Box.............

I didn't try it with meat yet, but apples were perfectly dry in about 3 days so the 60W bulb seems enough for this 30x30x25 box....I 'll try a 100w one next time.

fan drives the air through the food and exit at the other side, BUT, I am seriously thinking about cutting another air screen on the lid.


search the internet and get LOTS of recipes for jerky, biltong, dried vegetables and fruits....(dried tomatoes flavoured with garlic and herbs.......mmhhhhhh)


hope this instructable was interesting.........

greetings from france!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comments

Sieraaj made it! (author)2016-09-26

This a great article that helped me a lot building my biltong box, which I finished just yesterday. I've been testing the temperature and humidity since this morning and it seems to be running well. From the research I've acquired over the past few weeks on temp and humidity, there's no exact measurement so I'm basing mine in the range of 25°C - 35°C and 30%-50% (I collated the information from a UK research paper on drying meats such as biltong and others).

http://acmsf.food.gov.uk/sites/default/files/mnt/d...

I ordered all my items from amazon.com (RSA living in the US). It all arrived within a week and costed me about $40-$50 for everything. Here's my list:

- 68L plastic box

- 5 x dowel rods

- 2 x 80cm computer fans (I converted the fans to fit a wall outlet with an old charger plug)

- 60w light bulb

- light fixture with a cord and switch

- 24cm x 15cm vent cover

- Thermometer-hygrometer (reads temp and humidity)

- Mosquito net for the fan and vent

The plastic was easy to measure/write on and convenient to cut (I used my Leatherman 95% of the time and a drill to make the holes for the dowels). See my pics, if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to ask.

I'll be making my spice and drying the meat this week :)

Louis, your steps and information were a massive help! Many thanks!

louis perichon (author)2013-08-07

well.....fan blows air inside the box....it picks the moisture from the food, and takes it out through the filters.....but I have to admit it works better with the lid a little open.

so it blows air over food and out the filters........

fan is optional....it helps to switch it on a few minutes a day to dry the food a little quicker...."real" biltong boxes only use a bulb in the bottom of the box, and the moisture goes up and exits by the top.....the IDEAL dehydrator would blow HOT AIR.....around 60 celcius.....

do not WORRY ABOUT DETAILS? IT WORKS PERFECTLY WITH JUST A LIGHTBULB......fan is just a little help......


hope this answer was usefull for you.......cheers from limousin!!!!

kriekit (author)louis perichon2015-11-16

Hi Louis. South African here that's checked out the differences between biltong and jerky before. The 100w or 60w bulb will not give you the temperature to make jerky (jerky is made at 62°C / 145°F). A 60w bulb will give you about 26°C (depending on the ambient temperature, which is good for biltong, though. Biltong is treated with salt and with vinegar to aid preservation. I made a biltong box a while ago out of a bedside cabinet - but I wouldn't use it for jerky.

kriekit (author)kriekit2015-11-16

Edit:

depending on the ambient temperature and the size of the container.

Also, I'm in Ireland - so it the ambient temperature wasn't very hot.

zippetydooda (author)2014-09-05

Nicely done! I am thinking of something similar and would like to try using a plastic cooler and set it on end so I would have a hinged door. But I am trying to find a used one as I don't want to pay for a new one. And, it has to be nice and square to set on the end straight so I'm picky. May just use a cardboard box for now. Anyway, you had some good techniques and I got some ideas. Thanks.

cardboard boxes work perfectly, just consider using a tall one, use a 60 to 90 watts bulb at the bottom, it's heat will make air move from bottom to top and that's all you need to dry vegetables and meat!!!!!

Try!!

lowky (author)2013-08-06

not sure from instructions does fan blow into or out of the box. That is are you drawing air through the filters over the food, or blow air over food and out the filters?

Kringlur (author)2012-01-15

Greetings from Iceland!

You took great photos and your English was perfectly understandable, don't worry. Have you found any new things you would fix if you made a second box?

Do you think two fans would work better or something?

louis perichon (author)Kringlur2012-01-15

HI Kringlur

the air exit should be on the upper side of the box, as heat goes up...the fan is not good for all dryings....I sometimes switch it off as it actually cools down the box temperature...the ideal box would have a 100w bulb or 2x50w bulbs and a dimmer switch to tune the fan speed, this way, you cold adjust the air speed/lightbulb heat ratio.

works perfectly, though....I dried beef in 5 days and apple slices in around 2 days.

anyone could make a reallyreally cool box with a good choice of components and a better tool set.

surely would work for icelandic shark and codfish......

Heat isn't the only thing required for drying meats.
I've read that you want really dry air being blown across the meat to absorb the water from the meat. Hot or warm air usually has higher humidity than cold air, so hot/warm air isn't always the best. I think temperature and humidity needs to be within moderation.

osh114 (author)2012-10-03

Very well written and illustrated. i like it =)

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