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I bought a dehydrator this week to use for gumpaste Etsy orders. Sometimes people need something FAST, and since gumpaste needs time to dry I can't always ship as quickly as they'd like. I wanted to see if the dehydrator would be a good option to speed up the process.
The one that I got was the Oster model with four trays that seems to be the easiest one to find in stores. The drawback with this one is that the trays aren't very deep, so you can't put things that are really large in it. I plan on messing around and rigging up something that will allow me to do that. For now I only had some flat items to dry, so it was okay.
I started with some bows that had been drying for a couple of days. It's been pretty humid here so they were dry, but not enough that I felt that they were hard enough to ship without losing their shape.
I put them in the dehydrator for half an hour, then tested them. They were really hot, which was slightly alarming, because they seemed to be softening up. I decided to take them out of the dehydrator, and I let them cool off. Well, lo and behold, when they cooled off they were dry as a bone, and I was able to pack them up and ship them out.
So then I took a pinecone that I'd molded about a week ago, and was still soft to the touch inside. The gumpaste had a lot of food coloring in it, and it was really soft when I was working with it. The outside was hard, but I could tell that it would squoosh if it got pressed against something. I put that in the top tray so that the gumpaste was farthest away from the heat source, and left it there for a few hours.
I also put some white molded flowers in it, and they hardened up nicely after a few hours too.
So the dehydrator does work, with the following things to keep in mind:
1. The base of the machine is the hottest, so put things in the top tray if possible.
2. For items that need to keep their shape you might need to put them in an aluminum foil form, which could slow the drying time down some.
3. The gumpaste will get hot and feel soft, but when it cools off it will be a lot harder than it was when you started.
4. Things that are tall might not fit unless you rig the trays up to accommodate larger items somehow.
5. The dehydrator is on the loud side, I'd say that it's comparable to the exhaust fan on my stove.
6. The gumpaste I use is basically a fondant with tylose in it. I don't know how other types of gumpaste would react, although I can't imagine that they'd act much differently. I suspect that straight fondant would be softer and might be more affected by the heat. That will be my next experiment.
Kara Buntin owns A Cake To Remember LLC, custom wedding cakes in Richmond VA