This is a double posting and is the same as the one I posted in the Food Dehydrator section. Because it is a making stuff topic I posted it here as well.
Alton Brown made beef jerky on the Good eats show on the 3-20-09. The episode is called Urban Preservation II. He describes a simple cost effective way to make a dehydrator. It uses furnace filters and a window fan. I'm going to try this with vegitables. Here is the script from that particular part of the show.
From Good Eats, Alton Brown
So, if we want to mummify meat, we will need an arid, relatively cool, and very windy environment. Can we make that in our kitchen? No problem. Simply lay out your strips of drained and dried meat on top of the ridges of standard home furnace filters available at your local friendly hardware store for, I don't know, something like 99 cents. Then break out your – BLOWHARD 4000! [a box fan descends from above] Thank you, thank you. Now you may remember the Blowhard 3000 from our herb show. It's an excellent herb drier. But that was the 3000. This one's better because it's the ... it's the 4000. There. Okay. So, here's how you do it.
AB: [unhooks the box fan, the hook rises] Thank you.
First, stack the filters thusly right on top of each other and then top that with one empty filter. There we go. Then, lay down your Blowhard 4000 and stack thusly. Then connect the bungee cords so that the hooks are just around the sides of the fan into the grate. Nice and secure.
Now personally, I don't mind the house smelling like dried meat products. But if you or anyone in your home does mind that, just plug up your fan and kind of prop it up in your kitchen window blowing outward so that the smell goes out to someplace where it will be enjoyed, you know, like dogs, cats, and other critters and what not. Now the time on this will depend on your fan, on the density of your filters, and how thin you cut the meat. I usually start checking on it after about eight hours, but usually my batches take up to twelve. And don't worry, your patience will be rewarded.
If possible use cellulose rather than fiberglass based filters.
Now, the only downside to this method is that you're not going to want to use these furnace filters in your furnace. I probably didn't have to say that. Now I realize this jerky is not very attractive. But believe me, this is the best stuff you will ever lock jaws on. As for storage, well, I would avoid zip top bags. These things have a tendency to hold moist air right up against the surface of the meat. That'll partially re-hydrate it and it'll be pushing up mold within a month. If, however, you use something nice and open, with plenty of room and air in it, well, this stuff will keep for about 40 years.