With all the available means of preserving food, dehydration is one of the simplest, healthiest, and easy means to do it. Back then, dehydration is done by just placing the food in a secluded place to dry out. The challenge back then was to manipulate humidity, temperature, and airflow. But now, with the help of the best food dehydrator, anyone can achieve a healthy batch of dried fruits or delicious slices of meat jerky.
While the primary purpose of dehydrating food back in the day was for preservation, it is very different nowadays. But still, no one can undermine the importance of this food processing technique, the reason why this procedure is very much present and enhanced today.
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Why Do We Dehydrate Food?
Some people dehydrate food to make use of summer herbs all year long. Some herbs are more effective and create a different taste and effect when dried. There are others that dehydrate fruits for making homemade fruit rollups which are cheaper and safer than those that sold on grocery shelves.
One of the most popular reasons of dehydrating food is making jerky. It is a great alternative when you are not slicing meat for barbecue or steaks. Just as dried fruits and rollups, you tend to save money and ensure safety when you make your own jerky instead of buying one in the supermarket. Aside from the assurance that it is healthy and sanitary, you can also experiment with flavors that are not available over the counter.
Dehydration is also useful on some homemade arts and crafts. The most popular among those is making potpourri. People dry flowers in making these beautiful home improvement pieces.
Advantages Of Having A Food Dehydrator
If you come to think of it, it is hard to imagine how food can actually be dehydrated without the help of a food dehydrator. A food dehydrator is essential due to the following reasons.
It manipulates temperature
Food dehydrators have precise temperature controls which enable you to dry out foods even without the heat of the summer sun, even in winter months. This also makes it faster to dehydrate food compared to naturally waiting for it to dry out using outside temperature.
It eliminates humidity
Humidity is one of the main enemies of the dehydration process. Aside from slowing the drying out process down, a humid atmosphere is a perfect breeding ground for most types of bacteria which causes the food to spoil. Food dehydrators handle humidity with air flow controls that ensure proper circulation of air that prevents humidity.
It protects food from animals and pets
Since dried food is secluded in an enclosed container, there are no worries that it might get plundered by your curious pet cat, dog, ants, or even insects that can get attracted to its scent.
Important Considerations In Buying A Food Dehydrator
You don’t just buy the first food dehydrator that you see available. To have the best experience with a food dehydrator, you have to consider the following factors
Number of trays
This should depend on how you would use your food dehydrator. Will it be for personal use? Are you going to dry food for a large family? It is it going to be for a business? It is not wrong to get biggest and the one that has the most number trays if you have the means. Just make sure that trays are removable or enough space is allotted for taller and larger food.
You don’t need to for the most sophisticated type of food dehydrator. People often fall for features of a certain appliance that they end up not using in the first place. Make sure that the controls are easy. You don’t want to get stressed trying to figure out how to turn it on and off or how to adjust the thermostat.
Depending on your location and how the weather is over there, the thermostat should have the range in which food should be dried and dehydrated easily. The usual temperature range of a food dehydrator is from 100° to 170°F which is the perfect range for food to dry out.
Whether it is from beneath or from one side of the food dehydrator, the airflow should be optimized to ensure that all the food in it is well heated. Don’t go for a food dehydrator in which you will still have to rotate the trays just to get a perfectly heated batch.
Easy to clean
As always, the parts should be removable and safe to be submerged in water and put in the dishwasher. There should also be extra pieces of added sanitation such as screen inserts to prevent food from sticking to the tray and making it hard to clean.
The Best Food Dehydrator Available In The Market Today
A thorough research among different brands and models have made me choose on the best food dehydrator available in the market today. Let’s take a closer look.
#1. Nesco FD-1018A Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator - 8 Tray
This food dehydrator features its polypropylene construction, which is durable and lasts for a long time. It looks really nice with a white finish and a round design which has a sophisticated and contemporary look, making it a perfect complement to any kitchen.
- The BPA-free polypropylene construction is safe for the family and makes it a long term culinary partner.
- It includes eight practical trays while still being expandable to accommodate all kinds of fruits and dried food.
- It has an easy to use temperature control that ranges from 95° to 160°F which is perfect for the dehydration process.
- The set also includes eight fruit roll sheets, eight clean-a-screens, one jerky and spice cure packet, and a recipe book.
- The trays need to be turned and repositioned and turned to heat up evenly.
- The thermostat shuts off automatically at times despite not reaching the set temperatures.
#2. Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator, Black
With nine trays and 15 feet of drying space, this food dehydrator can dry out a lot in one batch. The good thing about it is that even if you fill it up to the brink, all the food will dry out evenly without the need to rotate and move the trays. For taller and bigger food to dry, you can remove the trays till the food can fit. It has all the technology you need to ensure that food stays healthy, delicious, and thoroughly dry.
- This food dehydrator has a user-friendly thermostat with a temperature range from 105° to 165°F.
- The Parallex Horizontal Airflow Technology which is exclusive to Excalibur ensures that all the trays are evenly heated.
- The heater, thermostat, and fan are at the back of the machine that allows fresh air to get drawn in and circulated to all the spaces.
- The 26-hour timer can cover all dehydration time requirements while you do other important stuff.
- It includes a poly-screen tray to prevent food from sticking.
- It is more expensive compared to its counterparts.
- It is bulky and takes up a lot of space.
#3. Presto 06301 Dehydro Digital Electric Food Dehydrator
Aside from already being compact, this food dehydrator can still be nested when not in use for a more convenient storage. But despite its size, by default, it can hold six trays which can be expandable to 12 trays if needed. It has an adjustable thermostat that ranges from 90° for up to 165°F which is perfect for making jerky and fruit roll-ups.
- It has a six-tray capacity which can be expanded to accommodate 12 trays.
- It can be nested when not in use that reduced its storage space requirements for up to 40%
- It has an adjustable digital thermostat that ranges from 90° to 165° F.
- The fan and heating element is mounted at the bottom and allows the heat to circulate without the need to rotate the trays for even heating.
- The see through lid allows you to monitor the food that you are heating.
- It makes a loud noise which is bothersome and annoying.
- It requires long hours of heating to get the desired results.
#4. Nesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator, White
If you don’t plan to dry food in large numbers, then this is the food dehydrator for you. Its five-tray capacity is enough to make fruit rollups and jerky for a family. The fan and heating element is installed at the top of the machine, covering the entire space without the need to turn and rotate trays.
- It has a 5-tray capacity which can be expandable to 12 trays if necessary.
- It has an adjustable thermostat that has a temperature range from 95° to 160°F.
- The top mounted fan allows even and fast heating of food.
- It features the Opaque Vita-Save exterior that blocks harmful rays that spoil and remove nutrients from food.
- It includes five drying trays, two clean-a-screen, two fruit roll sheets, three original jerky spice packets, and recipe and instructional booklet.
- The top part of the machine does not fit well with the tray that creates a gap that makes the dehydration process more difficult.
- The thermostat has some issues with the accuracy of temperature.
#5. Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator
Another unit of the Dehydro line from Presto, it also features a bottom mounted heating element and fan that allows even heat distribution without the need to rotate the trays. This is the smaller version of the 06301 model with only a default 4-tray capacity that expands only up to eight trays.
- The four tray capacity is expandable to eight trays which are best for limited counter space.
- The compact size makes it easy to store when not in use.
- The bottom mounted fan allows even heating without the need to rotate the trays.
- The transparent lid allows you to monitor food without disrupting the dehydration process.
- The fruit roll sheets, mesh trays, and jerky spice packets have to be purchased separately.
- There is no manually adjustable thermostat.
The best food dehydrator for me is the Excalibur 3926TB Food Dehydrator. Despite its high price tag, it has the complete tools for being an effective food dehydrator. The horizontal airflow is the most efficient means of heating up food evenly, and the 15 trays mean that you can whip up a batch for a large number of people, which is good both for family or commercial use.