Is It Worth Buying a Dehydrator?
Preserved food makes a great snack and it can last a long time, too. When you preserve food on your own you can be sure about its quality and hygiene. On the other hand, buying dehydrated snacks from the supermarket is not only expensive, but you can never be sure about the kind of conditions in which the food was dehydrated and packed.
Dehydrators offer a unique solution when it comes to dehydrating foods and enjoying snacks that are delicious as well as healthy. If you're a dried food enthusiast or you like to preserve fruits and meats for future usage, you will definitely benefit from a dehydrator.
Also, these devices are perfect for families that want to give healthy, preservative free, and nutritious snacks to their children. Whether you're a homeowner looking for an alternative to sugar and chemical loaded snacks available in the market or you're an outdoor enthusiast looking to carry dehydrated foods on your next trip, you can make your own snacks in your very own dehydrator.
Are you still thinking whether it is worth buying a dehydrator? Then let's take an in-depth look at dehydrators, their functions, types and much more so that you can make up your mind.
Different Uses of Dehydrators?
Dehydrators dry the food using hot air and the food can be consumed immediately or at a later date. But that's not all that dehydrators are capable of. Here's a look at some of the common uses of dehydrators.
- Making Jerky
One of the most popular uses of dehydrators is for creating jerky from all kinds of meat. The meat, cut into long stripes is marinated and then dried in the dehydrator till it is completely dry. These meat strips can be stored for later consumption.
- Making Fruit Leather
Fruit leather is delicious and it also makes a great snack for children. It is easy to make fruit leather in a dehydrator, simply use a non-stick sheet on the trays so that the fruit leather is easy to remove.
- Making Yogurt
Yogurt making requires precise temperature and your dehydrator can provide you with just that. Simply choose the temperature, set a time and you'll have your yogurt ready in no time.
- Preserving Fruit
Fruit like pears and pineapples make great preserved snacks. Dehydrators are essential for drying out all kinds of fruits. Dried fruits get a crunchy texture that great to eat.
- Drying Berries
Dried berries are rich in antioxidants and these make a great snack anytime. Simply wash the berries to get rid of any dirt or dust and put them in the dehydrator for the required time
- Drying Nuts
Salted nuts are high in nutrients and they taste great too. For more nuts, an overnight soaking is required before they can be added to the dehydrator. Once completely dry, you can save these for later or eat them whenever you like.
- Making Granola Bars
Dehydrators are just perfect for making granola bars. Simply mix all the ingredients together and place on a rectangular tray in your dehydrator. Dehydrate for 3.5 hrs at 115F and you'll have your delicious home-made granola bars.
- Dehydrate Herbs
It is easy to dehydrate herbs in the dehydrator and grind them up for using later. You can use the ground up herbs on salads, bread, vegetables, and much more.
You can make a variety of fruit and vegetable chips in dehydrators. Some of the popular choices are banana chips, kale chips, orange chips, zucchini chips, and much more. You can easily look up recipes online and experiment with them to get your own unique flavor of chips.
- Drying Flowers
Dried flowers are great for DIY decoration projects as well as scrap-booking. These flowers not only look great but when you dry them out, they last longer too.
Different Types of Dehydrators
There are several companies selling dehydrators in the market today. Each company has a different spin on how a dehydrator should be designed and how it should work. While the principle behind each dehydrator is the same, each comes with certain advantages and disadvantages. Keeping that in mind, let's take a look at three basic types of dehydrators.
- Fan Mounted on Top
These type of dehydrators are generally circular in shape as this shape allows for best distribution of hot air through the trays. Top fan mounted dehydrators are ideal for dehydrating all kinds of foods.
The maintenance of this type of dehydrators might be a bit difficult as any drippings will collect at the bottom of the dehydrator. If you don't take care of the buildup after every drying session, it can get difficult to remove the dried food materials from the dehydrators.
- Fan Mounted at Bottom
A dehydrator with bottom mounted fan throws air vertically up to ensure all areas of the food get an equal amount of heat. With bottom mounted dehydrators, you will need to keep the bottom of the dehydrator clean at all times as the presence of any kind of bacteria can contaminate the food.
Also, you might need to rotate the trays so that all trays get an equal amount of heat. These dehydrators also have a circular shaft going from bottom to the top of the dehydrator that can lead to heat loss.
- Fan Mounted at the back
Some of the latest dehydrator models have a fan mounted at the back so that hot air can be thrown horizontally at all the trays. The advantage of this design is that the air reaches all trays in equal amounts. Unlike top or bottom fan mounted dehydrators where trays that are further away from the fan don't get the proper amount of heat. In dehydrators with fan at the back, there is no need to rotate the trays either.
How to Find a Dehydrator That's Right for You
With the choices available in the market, it can be difficult to choose the dehydrator that suits all your needs. Here are a few things you can keep in mind while looking for a dehydrator to make the decision easier for you.
The design of the dehydrator is of prime importance when you are looking to add this gadget to your kitchen. You can either choose from a top or bottom fan mounted design depending on your budget and requirements. The dehydrators with back mounted fans are also gaining popularity as these offer better circulation of hot air.
Choose a dehydrator that will look right in your kitchen. A big dehydrator would stand out like a sore thumb and a small dehydrator might not give you ample drying capacity. With the varying sizes available in the market, you can easily find the one that will look like a part of your kitchen.
- Temperature Range
Figure out beforehand if you're going to use the dehydrator for drying a wide range of foods. If so, it's a better idea to get a dehydrator with a wide temperature range.
- Number of Trays
This is important because certain dehydrator models allow you to add more trays, but other have fixed number of trays. But what you gain in trays, you give up in the performance of the dehydrator. Figure out your expectations from the dehydrator and then choose one that suits your requirements.
Many branded dehydrators are expensive, but they make up for their cost in the usage that you get from them. You can also buy refurbished dehydrators from manufacturers as these are checked by manufacturers to be in perfect working conditions. Choose a dehydrator that suits your budget but don't compromise on the quality.
Most dehydrators come with recipe booklets, extra trays, fruit leather sheets, or jerky guns. You can also choose a dehydrator model based on the accessories that would be most useful for you. Also, make sure you check if you can buy accessories from the market or online stores.
Advanced dehydrator models come with digital displays that give you an indication of the temperature and time. These might cost you a little more, but you can always go with dehydrators that have knob based indicators of time and temperature. If possible, choose a dehydrator with an auto-off feature that switches off the dehydrator once it's finished drying the food.
One of the most important parts of buying a new kitchen gadget is the warranty. Goes without saying that you should choose a dehydrator that offers a significant warranty. Even if something goes wrong with the device in future, you can rest assured that you will get it repaired at no cost.
Popular Dehydrator Models in the Market
So far, we've looked at the uses of dehydrators, types of dehydrators and how to choose one. While the right dehydrator for you will depend on your choice, budget and requirement, you can always learn more by checking out popular dehydrator models. Let's have a look at some of the popular dehydrator models available in the market these days.
- L'Equip FilterPro Food Dehydrator
The L'Equip FilterPro is a well designed and high-quality dehydrator that comes with a complete range of functions that will make it an essential part of any modern kitchen. This dehydrator comes with six stackable trays, shut-off timer, and a digital display. The dehydrator can accommodate a maximum of 20 trays.
- Nesco American Harvest FD-61 Snackmaster Encore Dehydrator and Jerky Maker
If you like making jerky at home, this is the perfect dehydrator for you. The Nesco FD-61 has a top mounted fan and a patented Converga-Flow® Drying System that sends hot air through an exterior chamber so that every tray gets an equal amount of hot air and get dried properly. It comes with four trays, but you can always buy more as per your requirements.
- Excalibur 3948CDB 9 Tray Food Dehydrator
Excalibur is a well-known brand of dehydrators and the 9 tray food dehydrator is a square dehydrator that does its job without any fuss. This spacious dehydrator adds ample drying capacity by offering wide trays that can accommodate a wide range of fruits, vegetables, and meats. The seven inch back-mounted fan is powerful enough to dry foods perfectly. The dehydrator also comes with a 48-hour timer.
- Ronco EZ-Store Turbo 5 Tray Food Dehydrator
This spacious yet compact dehydrator is perfect for every homeowner that wants to save space in the kitchen but doesn't want to compromise on drying capacity. The turbo fan in this dehydrator throws up hot air to dry out food completely and efficiently. The square shape is good to look at and it is easy to store, too. This dehydrator is limited to 5 trays.
- Gourmia GFD1550 Food Dehydrator
This dehydrator is a sleek device that looks almost futuristic with its design, buttons, and trays. It comes with 5 nesting trays that can be filled with fruits, meats, and vegetables of your choice for drying. It has a transparent lid that makes it easy to check on the progress in each drying session. With a running capacity of 36 hours, it is perfect for making beef jerky and preserved fruits.
Dehydrators are unique kitchen appliances that have a wide range of uses. Once you buy a dehydrator, you will not only enjoy homemade snacks and dried fruits but also save money spent on buying the same from supermarkets. With the quality and brands available in the market, it is easy to choose a dehydrator that fits your budget as well as your requirements. Before you buy a dehydrator, make sure you read through the reviews and customer opinions regarding the functions, features, pros and cons of the dehydrator model of your choice.
And once you have a dehydrator, the snack possibilities are endless. You can always look up recipes online or experiment with your own recipes to create delicious and healthy snacks for your whole family!