A food dehydrator is a great and healthy way to feed your family healthy snacks. The idea of food dehydration has been around for ages, but the technique and equipment has constantly improved. While the idea of warm air passing by food and removing the water is a very simple concept, the best way to do it can get complicated. This site is set up to answer any questions you may have, go over a few tips and help you get started.
First up is the type of dehydrator to get: Horizontal or Vertical
To answer that, let’s start with a question: In nature, when you feel a warm breeze pass you by, which way is it going? Up and down or horizontally side to side? Taking a queue from good old Mother Nature, it is a good idea to have horizontal air flow. Since warm air will rise up, horizontal warm air will give you an even air flow and also help to eliminate food odors mixing. Any one that has used a vertical airflow dehydrator and had bananas on the bottom can tell you about the jerky on top that tasted like fruit. Vertical dehydrators are also a lot easier to clean.
Does Size Matter?
When it comes to food dehydrators, size matters. A good dehydrator should come in multiple sizes. The first thing you want to check is where you are planning on storing your unit when it’s not in use. Make sure you know the dimension and that you have room for it. Big units tend to dry food faster and are automatic. That means you can load them up and leave them until it’s finished. But, bigger does not always mean better. What are your food dehydration needs? Are you going to be preparing food for a family of 12 or a family of 4? If your food needs are some what smaller, get a smaller unit. A smaller dehydrator will save on electricity and wasted food.
A good dehydrator should have adjustable temperature. This is a must. Once you start to dehydrate more you are going to want to try other foods. As you do this, you will start to see that certain foods need to dry and certain temperatures. In fact, some foods have to be dried at different temperatures to retain their health properties. If it is dried with heat that is too high or too low, you may not get the desired results. The ability to adjust the temperature will come in very hand and useful.
There are many different models of dehydrators on the market today. You want to make sure you get a good one, while not over doing it. You don’t want to be stuck with something cheap that won’t last, but you also don’t want to pay extra for things that don’t matter in the long run. A good rule of thumb is that you are going to get what you pay for. Get a good brand that is going to last and fits your needs. Don’t buy a unit that no one has heard of before. You also don’t want to buy something that is the latest and greatest. A good dehydrator should run between $130 and $200.
At the same time, don’t go out and buy the latest and greatest if you’re not even sure a food dehydrator is for you. Stay away from extremes – a quality food dehydrator should probably cost under $100.
Watts used / number of trays relationship
There is a simple relationship between the Watts a dehydrator uses vs. the about of trays. If you get a dehydrator that has between 6-12 trays, you want the wattage to be around 500 – 600 W. If it is significantly higher than that, you will run the risk your food getting too dry too fast. Then again, if you buy a large food dehydrator with 14+ trays, make sure you have enough wattage to dry everything. In this case, it should be 1000 W or more. Otherwise you’re food will probably never dry on time.
There Are Many Food Dehydrators to Choose From
A Food Dehydrator can save you a lot of money. But before you buy one there are some things to think about.
The first is airflow. Since airflow is the way that food get dehydrated it’s important to consider the way it goes. Does it go vertically or horizontally? A benefit to using a dehydrator with a horizontal airflow makes sure that you don’t get any mixing in your flavors. You can dry more than one kind of food this way. If you choose a vertical dehydrator you need to decide if you want one with a fan on top or on the bottom. A bottom fan can seem the way to go, but food often has drips so it can be hard to clean. One of top has to work a little harder since heat naturally rises.
Another consideration when buying a Food Dehydrator is what shape to get. There are dehydrators that are square shaped and round. A box shape gives you more usable space in the dehydrator. A circle one has a empty cylinder in the middle so that the air can circulate. Plus it is easier to store a square shaped dehydrator because it can fit in a corner or a shelf better with no wasted space.
There are a lot of Food Dehydrators to choose from. No matter what your budget you can find one that will fit into your budget. While there are some as low as $40, I recommend you spend around $170 for one. The less expensive dehydrators don’t work as well. The more expensive machines have adjustable thermostats and timers.
Those extra features make your Food Dehydrator even more useful since some recipes call for different temperatures and times so all you have to do is set the thermostat and the timer.
Reading reviews on Food Dehydrators make it easier to find one that you want. Here is one that I recommend.
For a dehydrator around $100 go with a Neco dehydrator. They have several models to choose from, ranging from $50-$150.
Ronco dehydrators. These are probably the most well known of all the dehydrators because of all the television infomercials. If you need a very inexpensive dehydrator you can find these for around $40.
Aroma dehydrator. They have some very affordable models. But, you need to be careful because you get what you pay for.
Getting the best will cost you a little more money but in my experience, it’s well worth it. The Sahara 10 tray dehydrators are thought to be the very best, but they are a little higher priced. Sahara has 3 different sizes to choose from, all ranging in price from around $110 to $170.
Getting a Food Dehydrator saves you money and lets you save food. The nice thing about Sahara the models is that they are easy to return so you can try them out risk-free in your kitchen to see which you like.
Food Dehydrators Let You Save the Produce From Your Gardens
When you dehydrate food that means you are using low heat to draw most of the moisture from your food. This causes the food less likely to spoil, even without refrigeration. Not only does it reduce the moisture but it also cuts the overall volume of the food. This helps with storage since it takes up a smaller space. You are able to pack more food into the same small space.
For people who want to start preserving their food or produce from their gardens buying a Food Dehydrator is a good place to start. This is because it is less expensive and is much easier than learning to can or using a pressure cooker. When buying a dehydrator that lets you adjust the temperature as well as add in extra stackable trays.
Canning food is a great way to preserve it, but it often involves adding more sugar to the food. With a Food Dehydrator that doesn’t happen. The naturally occurring sugars in the foods come through and make it sweet enough. It’s like eating fruit candy. Most fruits dry very well. Mostly people think that only raisins or plums, and bananas can be dried, but pears, cherries, apples and strawberries are all fruits that dry well. If you can find an inexpensive source of these foods you are saving even more money than before.
One of the best reasons to use a Food Dehydrator is that you are in total charge of what goes into the food. You don’t have to worry about food dyes, other preservatives or excess sugar. You can also make the food the way you want it. If you like your apples with skin on, you can do that. If you want to make a puree of apples and grapes to make fruit leather you can do that.
Fruits aren’t the only produce that you can put in your Food Dehydrator. Vegetables are also great when dehydrated. One example is zucchini. Anyone who has had a garden with zucchini know that they always get more than the expected. But they love the taste. Dehydrating it means that you are able to use your excess and still have the wonderful taste in the middle of winter or any other time you want. If you like sun-dried tomatoes you can also make your own with a dehydrator.
Fruit and veggies aren’t all that can be dried in a Food Dehydrator. You can also make your own jerky. This is a good way to save meat and fish that has been hunted and fished by anyone. It also saves money. Plus you can add your own seasonings to it, like teriyaki, if you want to.
You can also dry your own herbs in your Food Dehydrators. This means that you can have that wonderful taste in your foods whenever you want. Plus dried herbs can be expensive in the store so you get to save money on the seasonings you want. You can make your own mixes too.
A Food Dehydrator Saves You Money on Healthy Food
The best way to have food that keeps all the same vitamins and other nutrients that it would if it was fresh is to use a Food Dehydrator. Not only does the food keep all the goodness that is found in fresh fruit the taste of dried food is concentrated so that it is an explosion of taste on the tongue.
Using a Food Dehydrator 75% of the moisture is removed from the food. The one thing that can cause problems with food that has been dehydrated is moisture from other places, or too much left in the food. It is better to leave the food in the dehydrator a little longer than it is to take it out too soon. Once food has been dehydrated it is important to keep it in air-tight containers. According to experts from Brigham Young University’s Department of Nutrition, Dietetics and Food Science food that is stored properly can last up to 30 years. Proper storage includes being vacuum bagged or canned and kept in a cool dark area away from excess storage.
Using dehydration as a preservative for food has been around for centuries. In the past it was used because it had to be due to lack of refrigeration. But now a Food Dehydrator creates a thin piece of food. Not only that, the food is still packed full of all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients that were in it to begin with. Not only that but low cholesterol foods are still low cholesterol and foods that were high in fiber are still high in fiber. Other nutrients that are left in food are magnesium, potassium and selenium. These are all vital to a healthy diet. When food is dried using a Food Dehydrator it also keeps most of its vitamin C as well as its Beta Carotene content. People who choose to eat a raw food diet choose to use dehydrated food as a large part of their diet due to the way that nutrients are just packed into it.
One problem with dehydrated food is that it can be very expensive in the stores. But people who use Food Dehydrators are able to save money on their dehydrated food. It also allows people to add their own touch to their dehydrated food, like mixing up different fruit purees to get new flavors of fruit leather. It’s possible to make healthy snacks with the dehydrated fruits. Fruits and vegetables aren’t the only things that can be dehydrated. Many people enjoy the taste of jerky. Homemade jerky can be made using any choice of meat. An excellent example of food that is dehydrated to an extremely low moisture content is banana chips.
Many people, when they choose to eat dehydrated food, choose to soak it first. This way it get just enough moisture to have great taste as well as all the nutrients. It can be soaked in some distilled water, or even put into a steamer so that it gets nice and plump.