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The Top 5 Best Food Dehydrators of 2021

Dehydration is one of the oldest and most reliable ways to preserve food. Originally, this was accomplished through sun-drying, but ideally, you want to be able to dry your fruits and vegetables without the stress or inconvenience that comes with relying on the weather.

For those interested in more automated methods of dehydration, we’ve outlined the top five best food dehydrators of 2021 for you.

Overall Top Choice

1. Excalibur 9-Tray Electric Food Temperature Dehydrator

Many things set the Excalibur Electric Food Temperature Dehydrator apart from its competition. It comes with a guide for dehydrating food. Add that to its ease of use, and you’re practically guaranteed no trouble getting started. This dehydrator has 15 square feet of space, which is more than enough for a single serving of food.

We also love the temperature and time features of this product. It has a 26-hour configurable timer that shuts off automatically. It also has an adjustable thermostat that ranges from 105 to 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This range provides temperatures cool enough for vegetables and hot enough for meats.

There are many dehydrators on the market - trust us, we checked - but few have the parallax horizontal airflow that the Excalibur 9-Tray Dehydrator has. The patented design is incredibly effective at preserving nutrients and enzymes in the food.

If you’re like us, you love it when a product has additional perks. And the Excalibur comes with a flexible poly screen tray insert that keeps your food from sticking to the dehydrator tray. 

Pros
  • 15 square feet of space
  • Wide temperature range with active control
  • Comes with a user’s guide and flexible poly-screen tray
  • Preserves the nutrients and enzymes in your food.
Cons 
  • The product is not returnable
  • It’s more expensive than other products in its category

We fell in love with this dehydrator immediately after unboxing. It has a solid plastic body with 10 stainless trays and an array of convenient features. 

The rear mount fan works with the heating element to ensure that everything in the dehydrator experiences even heat distribution. This way, all your food dries at the same time, and you don’t have to rotate your shelves every few hours. 

The Magic Mill Food Dehydrator Machine also has a digital thermostat and timer that work together to dehydrate food while not burning it. The adjustable temperature control triggers the automatic shutoff when your timer is done, and the settings are entirely configurable.

Remember the 10 stainless trays we mentioned? Well, there are actually mesh trays and regular trays. The regular trays will hold your jerky and other large foods, while the extra trays are for nuts and herbs.

One thing we found interesting was how easy this appliance was to clean. Normally, you’d expect a long process due to the complicated design, but all you need to do is pull out the trays and load them into a dishwasher because they’re all dishwasher safe!

Pros
  • The temperature range can go as high as 165 degrees Fahrenheit
  • You can dehydrate up to 11 pounds of food in one go
  • Rear mount fan that distributes the heat evenly
  • All the trays are dishwasher safe
Cons 
  • It doesn’t come with a user guide
  • The plastic body may warp slightly with prolonged use

The Magic Mill Food Dehydrator isn’t magic, but it's pretty close. It has a lot of functionality that makes it a convenient choice if you’re looking for a dehydrator that delivers. Even though it’s not the cheapest product on this list, it’s packed with features that justify its price point.

Easiest to Use

3. COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator Machine

What we love most about this product is the control it allows. You can set the timer for up to 48 hours, which is great for making beef jerky, and you can also increase the time in 30-minute increments. Additionally, it comes with 6 stainless steel trays that include a mesh screen, a fruit roll mesh sheet, and a recipe book.

You’ll notice a trend with the products on this list. Many of them are made of high-grade durable plastic. But not this dehydrator; the manufacturers went all out with a food-grade stainless steel exterior that adds style and luxury to your kitchen.

Another great feature of the COSORI Premium Food Dehydrator Machine is its silent operation. The noise is less than 48dB, which is essentially as quiet as a library. Add that to the timer function, and it easily becomes one of the most user-friendly products on this list.

All 6 trays are dishwasher safe, and you can easily wipe down the interior of the dehydrator for cleaning. Its rear-mounted fan also consistently distributes heat evenly. 

Pros
  • Food-grade stainless steel body
  • Comes with 6 different trays including a fruit roll sheet
  • LED display that makes programming a breeze
  • Rear mount fan for even heat distribution
Cons 
  • Can’t hold more than 5 pounds of jerky
  • The owner’s manual doesn’t help with troubleshooting

If you’re looking for a convenient way to dehydrate your food without having to turn the pieces every hour, this is the product for you. The timer, temperature setting, and stainless steel construction all allow you to set it, forget it, and come back for your dehydrated foods later. While not the cheapest, this dehydrator is also reasonably priced.

Best in a Pinch

4. Elechomes 6-Tray Dryer Food Dehydrator

The Elechomes 6-Tray dryer has a very simple design that involves a see-through tray section and a control screen below. But while simple, this appliance still gets the job done. It has 6 stackable trays that can accommodate a variety of foods, from beef jerky and fruits to vegetables and herbs.

The trays are BPA-FREE and each layer has two adjustable heights. This ensures that you can dry different kinds of food at once by varying their distance from the heat source. The transparent trays also allow you to see exactly what’s happening to your food.

As expected, the Elechomes 6-Tray Dryer has an adjustable thermostat and a digital timer. The control panel lets you set the temperature from anything between 95 and 158 degrees Fahrenheit, and the timer goes from 30 minutes to 3 days.

One of the most important features of a product is peace of mind, and the Elechomes Dryer offers it without fail. The product comes with an 18 month-warranty and access to customer service. You also get a user manual to navigate the product's settings or troubleshoot if necessary.

Pros
  • The electric food dehydrator can dry pet treats
  • Stackable trays that are also BPA-Free 
  • Maximum time of 3 days
  • 18-month warranty
Cons 
  • Won’t dry your food without the proper preset temperature
  • The body could have a higher quality

The Elechomes Dehydrator’s affordable price, durable build, warranty and simplicity make it great for people who are looking to fill a quick need in their kitchen. 

Most Budget Friendly

5. Elite Gourmet EFD319 Food Dehydrator

The Elite Gourmet Food Dehydrator is the most affordable product on this list, while still being able to give more expensive alternatives a run for their money. Its design is very similar to the Elechomes 6-tray dryer, with a see-through lid and adjustable temperature.

This electric food dehydrator sports a knob control that lets you take the heat from 95 to 158 degrees Fahrenheit. It can dry everything from snacks and fruits to herbs. 

This dehydrator is especially great for hobbyists who are looking to dry flowers, craft dough, or pet treats. The product is easy to clean too. You simply load the trays in the dishwasher and clean the clear lid. 

Now, you may be wondering if this budget dehydrator has a heat distribution system. It does, and the fan is mounted on the base, distributing air to the 5 horizontal plastic trays. The product is also safety tested and comes with a power rating of 350W. 

Pros
  • The temperature goes between 95 and 158 degrees
  • Transparent lid and trays let you see your food as it dehydrates
  • It weighs only 6 pounds
  • The dehydrator is easy to clean
Cons 
  • It may give off a strange odor on first use if you don’t wash it properly
  • It takes a while to get the job done

The Elite Gourmet EFD319 Food Dehydrator is 4X cheaper than our top pick and is perfect if you’re looking for a dryer that works. It doesn't have a fancy LED display or a week-long timer setting but it still gets the job done quickly and efficiently. 

Things to Know Before You Buy

You may have noticed that we focused on a couple of features in all the dehydrators we mentioned. That’s because these are critical for getting the most out of your purchase. We’ve also outlined them here.

Capacity

How large is the dehydrator and how much food can it hold during each use? These appliances come in multiple sizes, and the larger the capacity, the more expensive the dehydrator will be. 

It helps to have an idea of what quantity you expect to dry during each use. For example, our top pick has a capacity of 15 square inches. Some other products have slightly smaller capacities.

Drying Consistency

One of the perks of using a dehydrator is the associated ease; you don't have to turn your food as you do with sun drying. Unfortunately, some dehydrators are more reliable than others when it comes to drying consistency. 

We’ve found that those with a mounted fan tend to dry more evenly because the hot air circulates. It also helps to have lots of counter space in the dryer so you can space out your food.

Drying Power

If you want to dry a kind of jerky specifically, be careful because not all products can handle the variety of food you may be looking to dry. Meat is more prone to spoiling than vegetables, and your dehydrator needs to be hot and quick enough to handle it. It also needs a circulation method to keep the air flowing around the meat.

FAQs

Are food dehydrators the best option for drying food?

All methods of drying food have their pros and cons. For example, solar drying is relatively free but requires more attention and effort. A food dehydrator may be easier to use, but you have to know the correct settings to calibrate your machine correctly.

How much power will an electric food dehydrator consume?

Interestingly, many dehydrators consume less power than a microwave oven. Depending on the manufacturer, your dryer can consume between 300 W and 600 W. Considering that a regular-sized microwave can use up to 1800 Watts, dehydrators shouldn’t be much of a concern. 

Conclusion

There are many dehydrators to choose from. If you’re looking for the best of the best, we highly recommend the Excalibur 9-Tray Dehydrator. It has all the bells and whistles, a large interior capacity, and a highly efficient airflow. The dryer also comes with a 26-hour timer and a high maximum temperature for drying everything from fruits to jerky.

If you're looking for something on a budget, try the Elite Gourmet EFD319 Food Dehydrator. It has a simple design that makes it easy to move and focuses primarily on drying food with few extra conveniences. 

The Best Ways to Sun-Dry Food: Ultimate Guide

Sun-drying is the oldest known method for dehydrating food. This historical seal of approval means there’s an array of nutritional and culinary benefits.

In this guide, we’ll show you how to properly sun-dry everything from fruits to vegetables to meats. We’ll also discuss some other methods of dehydration that may be useful.

What is Sun-drying?

Sun drying, also known as solar drying, is the process of using the sun’s heat energy and surrounding air movement to extract moisture from your food. And while that may sound complex, it’s actually quite simple. 

Before we get into the specifics of sun drying, it’s a great idea to first talk about why sun drying is a good idea. As you know, there are various dehydration techniques, yet sun-drying continues to remain a first choice for many. 

Benefits of Sun-drying Food

1. Sun-dried foods retain large amounts of nutrients

Minerals, vitamins, and fiber: they’re all there. Because the process is slow and free of any unnecessary radiation, only the moisture makes its way out of your food, keeping your food as healthy and pure as possible.

2. Sun-drying is economical

Food dehydrators can cost upwards of 300 dollars, not to mention electricity costs and maintenance costs. And while these expenditures seem relatively harmless, they quickly add up to more than sun drying ever would cost.

3. Your food retains most of its original flavor

If you’re looking for authentic and original flavors, sun drying is your best bet. The process is slow, steady, and gentle, gradually drawing moisture from your food. As a result, you can expect most of the origins and unique flavors in the food to remain intact.

Cons of Sun-drying your Food

Sun-drying isn’t exactly a perfect approach. There are drawbacks as well, and these are crucial to understanding if sun drying is right for you.

1. It’s not always available

This is where using a dehydrator trumps sun drying. It’s easy to hook up the appliance and stick food in there any time of the day.

Sun drying, on the other hand, is completely weather-dependent. You can’t sun-dry in rainy or cold weather, and you only have a few hours of sunlight in the day. Plus, if the sun doesn't hit the minimum temperature required, nothing gets done.

2. It can be stressful

Sun drying is a labor-intensive technique that involves spreading the food out in a way that maximizes solar exposure. You also have to pay close attention because some foods dry out easier, and flavor will be lost. Plus, if the weather shifts suddenly, you have to quickly move your food indoors.

3. It can take a while

Depending on the humidity and the kind of food you’re drying you may have to wait up to 4 days to get the best results. Sun heat - even in warmer climates - is slow and won’t evaporate the moisture as quickly as a machine could. Food may even get moldy before it dries.

What Kinds of Foods Can You Sun-Dry?

You can dehydrate almost any kind of fresh food. Some will fare better than others, but if it has moisture, you can sun-dry it. Here’s a list of some of the best foods to sun-dry:

  • Fruits and vegetables: These are some of the most commonly dried foods. They include apples, bananas, apricots, carrots, mushrooms, and tomatoes. Dried fruits and vegetables can be used as purees for fruit leather or added to soups and made as a part of backpacking meals.
  • Meat and fish: Besides freezing, drying is a fantastic way to preserve meat and fish. The food can last a long time then be added to stews and soups with no problem. You can dry everything from ground beef or meat jerkies to chicken or fresh fish.
  • Nuts and seeds: Drying nuts and seeds makes them more digestible. Popular nuts to dry include walnuts, hazelnuts, almonds, pecans, and macadamia nuts.
  • Sprouted grains: Sun-drying sprouted grains can preserve the nutrients while you store them. Great grains to dry include rice, barley, quinoa, and amaranth.
  • Herbs: Fresh Herbs are an important part of your kitchen, and drying can make them last much longer. Commonly dried herbs include oregano, basil, parsley, mint, and lemon.

How to Prepare your Food for Sun-drying

The most important thing to remember when sun drying food is the thickness. You need to maintain an even thickness, so everything dries at the same rate. Remember that solar heat is only available during certain hours of the day. If some pieces are thicker than others, it can cause rot during storage.

It’s also important to sun-dry only the best fruits. If you dry a subpar fruit or seed, you're going to end up with subpar products. Pick out the freshest foods you can find, and make sure to dry them before they spoil.

How to Sun-Dry Food

Step 1: Preparation

Make sure that the fruits are clean and fresh. Wash them to remove any dirt or pesticides. Next, cut the fruit in half and remove any seeds or core areas. Cut into slices of even thickness, as discussed earlier. This ensures that they are sun-dried evenly.

For fruits like apples, you can use a slicing device. These have been around for a long time, and are great for slicing and peeling simultaneously.

Step 2: Blanch

Blanching refers to the process of preheating your fruits before dehydrating them in order to neutralize the enzymes in them. Blanching can also be used for vegetables. Avoiding this step may make the final product have a poor flavor and color.

To blanch, you’ll need to place the fruits or vegetables in a steamer and heat the water beneath to boiling. Exposure between 2 and 5 minutes is optimal. You can also blanch by dipping the fruits in hot water. Although one problem with this approach is that you may lose some coloring and nutrients to the water.

Step 3: Pretreat

Pretreating isn’t a necessary step, but it can keep light-colored fruits from darkening during the drying and storage phase. It also speeds up the drying process for fruits that have tough skins.

To prepare the pretreatment solution, you’ll need ½ teaspoon of ascorbic acid per one quart of cold water. Dip the fruit slices in the ascorbic acid solution for a full minute, then drain them.

Step 4: Sun-Dry

As you know, drying time varies between foods. For example, tomatoes will dry much faster than nuts. Be sure to turn your food about once a day to ensure even drying. You’ll know your fruits are dehydrated when they are wrinkled, dry, and have a kind of leathery or pliable texture. 

How Do You Store Sun-dried Foods?

If you don’t already know, sun-dried foods don’t need refrigeration. The lack of moisture increases their shelf life by a significant margin. Here are simple but effective techniques you can use to store your sun-dried fruits and vegetables.

Keep away from air and moisture

The best way to do this is by using an air-tight container. You want to pack the food into clean, dry containers that are insect-proof. Keep the packing tight without crushing the dried foods. If you have the right equipment, you can also use vacuum packaging. 

Pack recipe-sized portions together

Every time you open a package to retrieve some food, you expose the rest to air and moisture. This can lower the quality of your dried foods, especially if done frequently. To avoid this, only pack roughly enough food for one recipe in each package.

Use within 4 months to 1 year

According to the National Center for Home Food Preservation, dried foods should be consumed within a year of storage. Some may last longer than others, depending on a variety of factors, but keeping it under a year is always the safest option. 

It’s also best to keep the storage temperature cool because higher temperatures can shorten the storage time and cause food spoilage.

What other food-drying techniques are there?

As you know, sun drying is an ancient technique used to dehydrate and preserve foods. Even though it’s quite effective, there are other ways to dehydrate food as well. Here are two popular ones

Oven-drying

As the name suggests, you’ll be using your oven for this technique. The oven needs to stay on for a long time, so you have to pay extra attention to avoid accidents. With oven drying, you’ll be following many of the steps associated with sun drying.

The difference begins at step 4 where you’ll need to lay the food in the oven. Ensure that the pieces are completely separated before turning on the oven. It also helps to lay out the slices on wire racks that have been placed on a cookie sheet. Next, set the oven temperature and get to drying.

Pros of oven-drying

  • No extra investment needed: The chances are that you have an oven at home, so you won’t need to go out and buy anything. The only work involved is preparing the fruits and paying attention.
  • You probably already know how to do it: Because you likely own an oven, you’re also likely familiar with how it works, including temperature settings, the timer, and other specifics. With a food dehydrator, you’d have to learn about it from scratch.

Cons of oven-drying

  • It’s harder to control: This method of food dehydration can quickly get out of hand, which is why we recommend paying attention to the process. It also consumes a lot more energy than a dehydrator.

Using a Food Dehydrator

An electric dehydrator is specifically designed to dry fruits and vegetables, and they are a favorite for many pros. Beginners, on the other hand, may have some initial trouble with them.

Dehydrators often come with dehydrator trays where you can lay out your evenly-cut pieces of food. Each manufacturer tends to design their products fairly differently, so be sure to read the owner’s manual for instructions.

Pros of using an electric dehydrator

  • It makes fruits taste sweeter: A dehydrator will intensify the sugar content of fruits as the water content is extracted. Thus, the dehydrated food will taste much sweeter than its fresh counterparts. However, note that no extra sugar is added; it only feels that way because the fruit is smaller. 
  • You can save a ton of money: If you own a dehydrator, you can pretty much dry anything you want. You can now take advantage of sales in your supermarket by stocking up on certain fruits and vegetables with no worries about expiration dates.

Cons of using a dehydrator

  • You may lose some Vitamins A and C: According to WebMD, dehydration may reduce the number of vitamins in your fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, this can’t be avoided - as it happens while the food is resting on the dehydrator trays.

Conclusion

Sun-drying is an excellent way to dehydrate your food. It preserves the original nutrients and taste of the food while also saving a considerable amount of money. 

The process of sun-drying isn’t complicated either. Anyone can learn how to do it, and hopefully, this article is the only resource one interested in dehydration may need.

How Long Does Dehydrated Food Last? Guide to Dehydrators

Humans have always found a way to make life easier for themselves when it comes to everything around them, and this is especially true when it comes to food. 

Dehydrated foods have a lot of great benefits, including shelf life and health benefits, to name a few. 

It’s important to know exactly how to store these foods and how long they last for you to get the best results out of them. In this article, we’ll discuss questions like how long does dehydrated food last for, what goes into storing dehydrated foods properly, and how to make sure that your food lasts longer. 

The Benefits of Dehydrating Food

Before we get into the specifics of how long dehydrated food lasts for, it’s important to know why people choose to dehydrate food in the first place. 

Shelf Life

While a slice of fresh meat can last less than a day if left unrefrigerated, dehydrated meat (jerky) can last anytime from 10 days to a more than a month at room temperature if prepared and stored properly. It’s one of the best possible forms of preservation for edible items. 

Environment Friendly

The longer shelf life means that less food goes to waste. Developed nations have a major problem when it comes to food wastage, and food with a higher shelf life would mean reduced production requirements, as well. 

Excellent Snack

Dehydrated food can be a great option for camping and road trips because it’s not messy, easy to store, and tastes great.

Storage Space

Dehydrated food has most of the moisture removed from it. This lets the amount of space taken up by it go down by several multiples, which means that you can store more food in the same space. 

Nutrition

Dehydrated foods only have water removed from them. All the essential vitamins and nutrients that are present in the original food are preserved properly, making them a very healthy option for everyday consumption.

Cost Saving

Dehydrated foods, over a certain period of time, are very economical when it comes to storage, saving flavor, and safety.

Convenience

Once an item of food has gone through a food dehydrator, the nutritional content present in it, along with the increased shelf life, means that this food can be shipped easily to any part of the world without spoilage. 

This is an important aspect both for needs (military purposes or people affected by natural disasters), and for choice (exotic jerkies). 

Safety

If you dehydrate your own food and use your own ingredients, you can be assured that dehydrated foods are safer to consume than processed or canned food. There’s a lower chance of unwanted materials like chemicals or pesticides to be present in it. 

Foods That Can Be Dehydrated

This method of food preservation is extremely popular and is applicable to a lot of different foods because of the efficiency and benefits of the dehydration process. The sheer number of options within these foods make them separate categories of their own. 

  • Meat (jerky)
  • Fruits (chewies)
  • Vegetables (chips)
  • Pasta
  • Rice
  • Powdered soup
  • Powdered sauce
  • Powdered milk

You can learn more about this by checking out this guide to the best foods to dehydrate

How to Know if Your Dehydrated Food is Spoiled

How long does dehydrated food last? Well, it can depend on a variety of factors.

Despite your best efforts, sometimes moisture and oxygen can play its part and cause your food to have a shorter shelf life than expected. This also depends on the location and the weather around you, and you need to know what signs to look for to see if your dehydrated food has gone bad. 

Mold

The first and most obvious signs you should look for is damage that you can easily see. If there is a layer of mold on the food, this means that your dehydrated food has definitely gone bad. 

Other things you can look for are extra layers on the food, change in the color of the dehydrated food, spores, or moisture buildup in the bag. 

Bad Smells

While food dehydration causes food to lose most of its obvious smell, depending on the type of food, you should be able to get a whiff of how it’s supposed to smell. If there’s a strange smell coming from your food, it’s not a good idea to consume it.

Mouth Feel

You will have to eat the food to check it this way. If your food doesn’t feel the same in your mouth as it originally had after being dehydrated, it has probably gone bad. 

Keep in mind that we’re not talking about the occasional crispy piece of jerky. You should be able to tell from the texture of the food if there’s something wrong with it. 

Taste

This would be the final and most obvious way to understand that the food has gone bad. If the food tastes bad and different from its original taste, it’s probably gone bad. You shouldn’t take your chances if the taste is awkward, as it might lead to food poisoning. 

How to Prevent Spoiling

The shelf life of food can be improved greatly by keeping a few things in mind as you prepare and store your dehydrated food. There are different ways to ensure that your food has the longest shelf life. 

There are two broad categories on how to achieve this. The first option is to take some steps while preparing, while the other is things you can do while storing your dehydrated foods. 

Preparation

If you prepare your food properly, you should have an evenly dehydrated product with no moisture levels. 

However, no process is perfect, and some moisture might be left over even if you take all the right precautions. These are some tips and tricks you can follow to ensure better preservation of your food. 

Fruits

While fruits are one of the most commonly dehydrated items, these are only dehydrated until they’re chewable. This means that there’s a higher moisture content in them compared to other options like powdered soups or vegetable chips. 

For this reason, there’s a higher chance of them going bad quicker. To make sure that your fruit slices are evenly dehydrated, you need to take them after the dehydration process and pack them loosely in airtight jars or bags. 

For about a week, shake the containers once or twice a day to ensure that the moisture is distributed evenly among the slices. 

This can also be used to check if your fruits are dehydrated properly. If the airtight container shows signs of water droplets forming on the inside, your fruits might have to go back in the dehydrator for another round to reduce the water content. 

Meats

Meats can develop germs, bacteria, or mold easily. If you put meat at a very high or very low temperature, it will kill off the germs and give you a safer experience.

One option is to pasteurize the meat by setting it in an oven at 80 degrees Celsius for a quarter of an hour. Once they’re out of the oven and cooled down, they should be safer to pack. 

Another option is to freeze the meat. The storage time for this process will be much longer, as you will have to keep it in the freezer for a week for it to be completely safe before storing it at room temperature. 

Vegetables

The preparation part for vegetables is easy, as these are usually turned into chips. The point is that the moisture content in dehydrated vegetables is very low, which makes it more difficult for them to go bad.

Just ensure that you don’t take them out too early during the dehydration process and let them dry out properly before they’re cooled and stored. 

Storage

While taking the necessary precautions during preparation can help your food last longer, it will all be pointless if you don’t know how to store your dehydrated products properly. Keep these things in mind while storing: 

Keep Out of Direct Sunlight

Even though the food is dried out, there is a tiny amount of water likely still present in your dehydrated foods. 

Direct exposure to heat and light can cause your food to get spoiled. Make sure you store in a cool, dark place. It doesn’t have to be refrigerated, but make sure that the place is dry and around or below room temperature.

High Quantity

Know that every time you open up a container to take out dried food, you’re making it susceptible to some damage.

For this reason, try to not have containers that are too large and contain a lot of items, as you will be prone to opening it more and exposing the contents to the air. If you have a lot of food, consider splitting it between two or more containers. 

Temperature

A general rule of thumb when it comes to storing any kind of food is that the lower the temperature, the longer the food can last. This is why foods stored in cooler temperatures (for example, in a deep freezer) can last for much longer than foods left outside. 

Make sure that the storage space is cool for a longer shelf life.

Containers

The two biggest enemies of stored dehydrated foods are moisture and oxygen. For this reason, make sure that the container you’re using for storing your food is airtight (for example, a mason jar) and is stored in a dry place. 

Regular Checks

You don’t need to have a daily routine to check up on your airtight jars, but every once in a while, even if you haven’t yet opened that container, check out the inner side of the containers of dehydrated foods.

Glass jars are excellent for this purpose, as you can easily see drops of condensation on the inner surface. 

How Long Does Dehydrated Food Last?

If you’ve followed all the steps mentioned in this article, there can still be a wide range of differences on how long your food lasts based on temperature ranges and the drying process. Besides this, the large variety of food that can be dried also has a different shelf life for each category. 

So, how long does dehydrated food last? If you look at the extreme end of the spectrum, long term storage of dehydrated foods when paired with vacuum sealed bags, as well as oxygen regulators, can last for as long as 30 years!

However, since we are talking about home dehydration methods, let’s be more realistic. Vegetables have very low moisture content and can last for up to 10 years. On the other hand, fruits, which have a slightly higher moisture content when dehydrated, will still be good for up to 5 years if stored at the correct temperature. 

Dehydrated meat has the lowest shelf life of all edible products. If the container is constantly being opened and in use, you are suggested to eat dehydrated meat within a month or two. However, in a properly sealed package, you can leave dehydrated meat in storage for up to a year. 

Final Thoughts

Dehydrated food is a healthy alternative to store bought snacks that have zero nutritional value and will only lead to unhealthy weight gain. For this reason, a lot of people are not only choosing dehydrated foods but are also investing in their own dehydrators for a complete at-home experience. 

If you’re one of these people and are interested in getting one yourself, check out this handy guide on what to look for when buying a dehydrator.

In this article, we addressed questions like how long does dehydrated food last for, how to check if it’s spoiled, and what you can do to increase its shelf life. If you’re interested in similar topics about healthy, dehydrated foods, feel free to check out our other articles, as well!

How Long to Dehydrate Jerky: User’s Guide to Dehydrators

Dehydrators are a popular option for people who enjoy healthy eating. The good thing about a dehydrator is that the food you treat in the device tastes better, lasts longer, and makes for a healthy snack. You can learn more about this by checking out this article on reasons to buy a food dehydrator

If you've just bought a dehydrator, or if you're thinking about getting one, jerky is one of the best foods that you can use it for. In this article, we’ll go over everything you need to know about using your dehydrator for meat, including how long to dehydrate jerky for, how to store it, how to prepare it, and more. 

What is Jerky?

If you're new to the world of dehydration, jerky is probably just slices of ground meat that you've bought in grocery stores as a quick snack. Originally, jerky is lean trimmed meat that is cut into strips and then dehydrated. 

Proper jerky comes from slices of lean meat, but most store bought jerky is made out of chopped and ground meats instead. This is why it is important to learn more about this product so that making it home can be easier. 

Jerky doesn’t require any preparation before you eat it. There are some methods that go into making it, and these methods give the meat a great taste and ready-to-eat characteristics. 

Jerky doesn’t need to be refrigerated. It can last for a long time without spoiling even if stored at room temperature in an airtight container. 

Why is Jerky Popular?

Jerky started off as just a store bought snack, but has found more acceptance and popularity as a mainstream food item. This is because of a number of health and taste reasons. 

Jerky tastes better now: Dehydrated food is devoid of moisture, which means that the taste of the food gets much more concentrated. Fruits become sweeter, and jerky becomes more savory. 

Jerky is also marinated with sauce and spices that add more taste to it before being dehydrated, making its taste one of the best factors behind its popularity. 

Snacks are more popular now: Most people don’t stick to the conventional three meals a day plan, and often snack a lot between meals. As a great tasting snack that doesn’t load up too much on calories, jerky is what you can call a healthy version of junk food. 

Jerky is healthy: If you go for snacks like chips or cookies, you can quickly load up on calories that will come from fat and carbs, leading to rapid weight gain. With jerky, you not only get a low fat content, you also get the protein that comes from meat. This means that you can stay full for longer periods and enjoy a snack that’s also good for your body.

Jerky has a lot of variety: You wouldn’t believe the kind of variety you can get when it comes to different types of meats to make jerky from. While chicken, beef, and turkey are the common options, jerky is also available in exotic options like kangaroos, yaks, and alligators. 

How to Make Jerky

Now that you're probably convinced that jerky is the best snack you can munch on during your day, you are left with two options.

The first one is to stock up on jerky on your next grocery run, but store-bought jerky can be expensive and there is always a chance that there will be chemicals involved in the processing and packing steps. 

The second option is to make your own. With this, you can make sure that you get just the right jerky recipe, get the right strips of meat, and overall have much more freedom over the process and how the taste turns out. 

The next few sections outline the steps you need to take to prepare your own jerky in a dehydrator, as well as how long to dehydrate jerky. 

Items You Will Need

  • A dehydrator
  • Meat 
  • Seasoning (according to taste)
  • Meat knife
  • Ziplock bags

Preparation

The first step before your meat goes into the dehydrator is the preparation.

Step 1: Find a good slice of meat for your jerky. If you can get a top or bottom roast or a flank steak, your jerky will be easier to make and store and taste better. 

Step 2: Trim off all the fat you can see on the meat. This is not just because you want a high protein, low fat snack, but also because leaving fat on your jerky will reduce its shelf life. 

Step 3: Once the meat is cleaned up, put it in the freezer until it's hard. One hour should do the trick. If you have a pound of meat, putting it into the freezer for a while will make it easier to get thinner slices of the right thickness.

Slicing

Now that your meat is out of the freezer and ready to be sliced, place it on a kitchen board.

Step 1: There are two different ways in which you can slice the meat to make your jerky. One option is to cut with the grain of the meat. This will make the jerky easier to chew and eat. On the other hand, if you slice the meat perpendicular to the grain of the meat, it will be chewier. 

This depends completely upon your taste and does not affect the final quality of your jerky when it comes to taste or shelf life. 

Step 2: Slice the meat evenly. You can make slices up to 1/8th of an inch thin, or 1/4th of an inch if you prefer a thicker version. 

Marinade

Having a seasoning for your jerky can greatly improve its taste after dehydration. If you're completely new to this, you can check out this video on homemade jerky seasoning.

Seasoning depends completely on your taste, and you can use any homemade recipe that you think would taste best. Even a simple marinade will greatly improve the taste of your jerky. 

Make this marinade and put it in a ziplock bag. Make sure it is mixed well. 

Mixing

Once your ingredients are combined, it’s now time to coat the meat.

Step 1: Put the meat slices into the ziploc bag with the seasoning. Make sure that the marinade is enough in quantity to properly coat the meat from all sides. You will have to make the right estimates accordingly.

Step 2: When the bag is shaken and the meat has been mixed well with the marinade, put the ziplock bag in the fridge. This will help the meat soak up the flavor without going bad.

Step 3: If you're not in a hurry, you should leave the meat inside the fridge for at least 12 hours to make sure that your jerky has a rich taste. 

Drying

This is the step where your food dehydrator and how long to dehydrate jerky comes into the picture. Once your meat slices have had enough time to soak up the flavors from the marinade, we can start the drying process to create jerky slices. 

Step 1: Take the ziploc bag out of the fridge and take all the meat slices out. 

Step 2: Using a paper towel, gently pat the meat dry of any moisture. This is an activity with a broad range of choices, as you can choose how clean you want the jerky to be. For a richer taste, do not pat dry your meat too aggressively. 

Keep in mind that the lesser you pat dry your meat, the more time it will take to dehydrate it. 

Step 3: Once you have your pat dried fresh meat slices, it is time to start the dehydration process. You need to place the meat strips on the dehydrator trays at a distance of about half an inch from each other. 

This is an important part of the process. If the strips are too close together or on top of each other, the drying process will not be completely efficient. You do not want to risk the quality of your jerky because of this. 

If you have a lot of meat and it will not fit on the dehydrator trays, consider doing it in two batches. You can always leave the remaining meat in a ziplock bag in the fridge while the first batch is being made. 

Step 4: Once the trays are loaded with the meat, put them inside the dehydrator. According to the official guidelines, jerky needs to be at 160 degrees before it is considered safe for storage and consumption.

Step 5: Set the temperature of the dehydrator from 165 degrees to 170 degrees. This will ensure that the internal temperature of the jerky reaches the required 160 degrees. 

Step 6: The next thing you need to do is wait! Jerky usually takes around 5 hours to dehydrate properly, but might take slightly longer or otherwise depending upon the thickness of your meat slices and the amount of marinade present on them when the process started. 

Step 7: While the dehydration process is going on, you need to make sure that you keep checking up on the progress of your jerky after a few hours. If you let it overdry, it will become crispy instead of chewy. This will make it flake and start to break out in pieces, which can ruin the eating experience as well as the taste. 

Step 8: Check the internal temperature of the jerky, and make sure that it does not break when you try to bend it. This means that it is properly done. 

Step 9: If the jerky is done, switch off your dehydrator. You should ideally let the jerky cool for about an hour before you take it out and store it. 

Storage

The way you store your jerky can determine how long it lasts for. While you can always directly start eating it as soon as you're done, most people would want to store it for further use.

You can use ziplock bags to store your jerky, but these will only give it a shelf life of about 10 days. After this, there might be mold buildup on it, making it inedible. 

There are several professional ways to store jerky that will make it last for over a year. These include vacuum sealed, airtight containers that also include an oxygen regulator. 

However, if you're making jerky at home and you want to store it for a couple of months, your job should not be too difficult. The main problem you need to look out for is moisture, as it will ruin your product. 

This means that any airtight jar, for example a mason jar, can do the trick. A mason jar has different metal and rubber layers to its lid that prevent moisture from getting into it, thus improving the shelf life of your jerky. 

Final Thoughts

Making jerky at home is a simple process with a high return on investment. You get a healthy snack that can easily be stored for a long time, along with the peace of mind that you know exactly which ingredients have gone into the food you consume. If you've read this article, you would definitely enjoy our guide to dehydrators for beef jerky.

We hope that this article has helped you take steps in the right direction to start making your own jerky at home and answered how long to dehydrate jerky. If you're interested in similar topics about healthy meals and dehydrators, feel free to check out our other articles, as well!

A Guide to Using Parchment Paper in Dehydrator Machines

Parchment paper is a common cooking accessory, known for its non-stick properties and heat resistance. Also, parchment paper is a hot commodity on the market because it’s very affordable.

However, note that parchment paper is quite different from wax paper. The major difference is in the materials used. While wax paper, as the name implies, uses wax, parchment paper is usually coated with a heat-resistant and non-stick material like silicone.

Parchment paper is also popular because of the convenience it brings. You can walk into any kitchenware store, buy pre-cut sheets, use them, and dispose of them after use. As simple as ABC. As much as we’ll be discussing the use of parchment paper in dehydrator machines here, note that you can use it for many different things.

Read on to learn more about these uses and the differences between parchment paper and wax paper.

Differences Between Wax Paper and Parchment Paper

Have you ever wondered if you can switch out your parchment dehydrator sheet for wax paper? Well, you wouldn't be the only one to consider it. However, we have to warn you, they are NOT the same. In fact, switching them out could be dangerous. 

Although both coated papers are excellent for wrapping leftovers, the similarities end there. For a quick distinction, wax paper is ideal for cold things, while parchment paper works great with the heat.

What Is Wax Paper Used For?

You should NEVER use wax paper in your oven. This paper is coated with soybean or paraffin wax which melts at low heat. It could even ignite at higher temperatures. At best, your food is ruined. At worst, your house burns down. Either way, you have a bad day.

Hazards aside, wax paper is non-stick and does not let water pass through, so its main value is for food prep or storage. You can lay down wax paper before measuring messy items to make cleaning up after easy. It is also great for rolling out dough or pounding cutlets.

Wax paper also works great for wrapping stuff up. From your sandwiches to your butter and cheese, wax paper is a great wrapper. It also helps to keep foods from getting stuck while freezing. All you have to do is put a sheet of wax paper between them.

One thing you should note though, is that you can only use a wax paper once. Unlike a parchment paper, you cannot wash, dry, or reuse wax papers and they would have to be disposed of after each use.

What Is Parchment Paper Used For?

The coating on parchment paper, as we've said earlier, makes it heat resistant. That means that while this silicone sheet may darken, it will not burn. It is also greaseproof, durable, and moisture resistant. Parchment paper recently became popular as a way to package food gifts. 

Parchment paper is great for lining your oven pan and trays when cooking. Most people butter these bake pans before using the parchment to help them stick. You can use parchment for meatloaf, fish, vegetables, and any fruit combination you wish. It'll help you clean up more easily, and you won't have to scrub out crusted remains.

When dehydrating, you can use parchment paper to line the trays of your food drier or dehydrator. This is great when making things like crackers. It is also advantageous when drying items that could slip through the holes of your food dehydrator tray. Parchment paper also helps avoid a big mess when making no-bake dried cookies and helps keep the cookies from sticking to the tray.

If your paper does not come precut, you can cut it with scissors to fit your tray. Place it on your tray and then place the food item or fruit on the paper. Then turn on your dehydrator just as you would. You can throw away this paper when done or reuse it a few times to help reduce environmental impact.

Types of Parchment Paper

There are many different brands of parchment paper available on the market. This is good, as we will often find ourselves using it to make our cooking process a little cleaner. We will discuss some great brands later.

The two major types of parchment paper are bleached and unbleached, which is the major decision you have to make prior to purchase. Here’s the difference between both and which one you should use.

Differences Between Bleached and Unbleached Parchment Paper

While these two parchment papers do not have any functional difference, they are mostly different in appearance. Just as the name suggests, bleached is white while the unbleached version is brown.

Unbleached paper is untreated and has no chlorine in it. Its bleached counterpart has that lovely white color due to chlorine treatment. You can quite easily find both of these types of parchment paper at the store. You can also find them online. However, there is a chance the unbleached parchment paper could be slightly more expensive.

Which Type of Parchment Paper Should You Use?

The best kind of parchment paper for you depends on your needs. Both types can be used interchangeably for the same kind of cooking activities. The color or treatment of the paper will not change the outcome of your recipe or activity. 

Some people have a problem with bringing too many chemicals into their home, so they might prefer the unbleached option. However, you should know there are no studies showing that bleached parchment contains chemicals that could be harmful to your health in any way.   

3 Top Brands of Parchment Paper

As we mentioned earlier, there are many brands of parchment paper available on the market, and you’ll see many options when you go to your local store. In no particular order, here are three popular brands we recommend:

1. SMARTAKE Parchment Paper Baking Sheet

People love SMARTAKE Parchment Paper because it comes pre-cut in 12” x 16” sheets. That means you don’t have to find scissors and get to slicing when it’s time to use parchment paper in your dehydrator. We love this because it cuts down on your cooking or baking time. It’s also unbleached, and the pack contains about 200 sheets.

You can use SMARTAKE Parchment Paper for baking, grilling, frying, and steaming. The sheets are non-toxic and heat resistant. Temperatures up to 450°F are no problem for SMARTAKE Parchment Paper.

People really enjoy using this brand because of the effective packaging. It is carefully packed so that your sheets come out without folding. It also shows you where to cut using perforations, and the packaging doesn’t take up too much space. SMARTAKE Parchment Paper is FDA approved, so it is safe for you to buy and use at home.

2. Reynolds Kitchens Parchment Paper Roll

Reynolds Kitchens Parchment Paper Roll includes three individual boxes. Each of these boxes contains 50 square feet of paper. Customers love this brand because it has marked lines that make cutting easy. It also has even spacing, and it can withstand up to 425°F of heat.

People also love this parchment paper brand because it comes with a SmartGrid for easy measuring. If you’re making cookies, this comes in very handy for spacing your dough. You can also reuse the paper up to three times before you have to throw it away.

Conservationists will love this one because it is environmentally friendly, and the paper is compostable. You can even use it in your home compost heap. It’s available to buy on Amazon.

3. IF YOU CARE FSC Certified Parchment Baking Paper

IF YOU CARE is another parchment brand that conservationists will love. The company itself is dedicated to making high-quality, environmentally friendly products. One pack contains about 70 square feet and does not require greasing.

This product is unbleached and can be used for reheating, wrapping, baking, or roasting. There is also the precut option so go for that if you need it. Sheets are sized 12.5” x 16”. IF YOU CARE FSC Certified Parchment Baking Paper can resist heat up to 428°F. For the uncut version, you can make around 50 to 70 sheets from a single roll.

How to Use a Roll of Parchment Paper in Your Food Dehydrator

Dehydrating is a cooking process where water content is removed from your food or fruit to make your food last longer than normal. The kitchen appliance used for this task is called a food dehydrator. 

Most people use the dehydration process to preserve food that comes from their garden. That’s often where parchment paper comes in. Some of these fruits are so small that they’ll slip through the holes in your tray during the drying process. Parchment paper can also help you make fruit leather. 

Sometimes, your dehydrator might come with its own traditional dehydrator sheet. But if it doesn’t, you will need to add one to line the tray. Honestly, when it comes to using parchment paper in your dehydrator, there is a simple process to follow. Here is an outline of what you’ll need to do:

  1. Tear out a piece of dehydrator paper that is larger than your tray
  2. Place it on the counter
  3. Use your dehydrator trays to trace the exact size of paper you will need
  4. Use scissors to cut your parchment paper to the correct size
  5. Place the parchment paper on your food dehydrator tray
  6. Place the food on top of the parchment paper
  7. Place the trays in the dehydrator and start your dehydrating process
  8. When done, remove the dehydrator trays
  9. Lift the parchment paper from the trays
  10. Remove your dried-out foods from the parchment paper
  11. Either dispose of the parchment paper or keep for reuse

To avoid making mistakes and wasting your roll of parchment paper, follow these tips:

  • Depending on what you are using the parchment for, you might want it slightly larger than the tray. For drying small pieces of fruits, cut your parchment paper to fit the exact size of your tray. When making a fruit leather sheet, it’s best to cut it slightly larger. That way, the fruit puree won’t leak out. 
  • If you have a lot of items to dehydrate, cut all the papers in a bunch at once. That way, you’ll have them ready for use without extra work. 
  • You can also store any unused sheets left in a plastic bag or air-tight container to keep them clean.

Reasons Why You Should Use Parchment Paper in Dehydrator

Okay, so we’ve touched a bit on this in the paragraphs above. Parchment paper has many more uses when it comes to dehydrators. Here are some of them:

1. You Don’t Have to Clean Up After

The time saved when using trays with parchment paper is a huge plus. You’ll also expend much less energy, to be honest. Without parchment paper, you may discover that a lot of your cooking has stuck to the tray. That takes time and effort to clean. You’ll have to scrape it off, and then you still need to wash your tray. Using parchment paper will save you the stress of getting your dehydrator clean.

2. Longer Lasting Trays

Parchment paper makes your trays last longer. Picture not having to constantly scrape food off your trays. This will mean less scrubbing and washing with soapy water. Your trays will last longer and maintain their good condition as a result. You also won’t have excess oil and dried sugars shortening the life span of your trays.

3. Your Food Won’t Fall Through the Cracks

Dehydrator trays come with holes because it helps the heat circulate easily through the appliance. When placing fresh fruit on the tray, you most likely won’t have any problems. The issue arises when moisture has been lost and the fruit has shrunk. They could end up falling through the holes. A thin layer of parchment paper placed on the tray will offer a safety net preventing that.

4. Parchment Paper Allows Ventilation

Unlike the other alternatives such as wax paper and aluminum foil, parchment paper lets your food breathe. The others tend to seal out the air. You need this air to pass through so that it can dehydrate your food. This also helps your drying time.

5. It Is Versatile

Whether your goal is making fruit leather or you want a fruit roll-up, parchment paper works for all types of fruit. You can also dry jerky, herbs, and many other kinds of food. All you have to do is line the tray with parchment paper and begin the drying process. 

Safety While Using Parchment Paper in Dehydrator

Sometimes, people wonder if it is safe to use parchment paper in a dehydrator. The answer is yes. It’s okay to be worried about things like this, so we’ve listed out some reasons why parchment paper is safe for your dehydrator.

1. Heat Resistance

The heat resistance of parchment paper is important. The paper’s heat resistance is due to the silicone material used as a coating. Silicone itself is highly heat resistant and has a very high melting point. Compared to the high heat resistance of the paper, dehydrators operate at very low temperatures. The temperature will never be high enough to cause combustion or melting.

2. Chemical-Free

There are also no chemicals in parchment paper. So, you can relax knowing that no strange chemical reaction will happen while you cook your food. While the creation process might involve a few chemicals, none are harmful. You can also use the unbleached version if you want to reduce the chemicals in your home even more.

3. Reusability Protects the Environment

Parchment paper can also be reused, reducing the impact on the environment. Often, people use them 3-4 times depending on how the paper feels and its overall condition. If it starts to feel brittle, it’s time to change. You can also use both sides of the paper. By getting the most out of your parchment paper, you are putting less trash in the ground.

Conclusion

Now that we are at the end of our journey, it would be great to think a bit about what we have discussed. One is that if your dehydrator does not come with a traditional dehydrator sheet, a store-bought version is excellent. We think parchment paper is the best choice for use in a dehydrator.

Parchment paper also has many other benefits besides the basic function of using it to line your dehydrator trays. One of those is that it saves you the many hours you'd have spent scrubbing grease from your kitchen appliance. It also helps avoid spilled food, helps reduce the size of your cooking prep mess, reduces the clean-up burden, can withstand high heat, and limits the impact on the environment.

Now that you know what product to use to line your dehydrator trays, nothing is stopping you from getting to work and making some fantastic homemade food!

Air Fryer vs Dehydrator: Which Should You Buy?

Recently, many people have adopted a healthier lifestyle, a big part of which involves healthy eating. A lot of healthy diets require reduced oil and fat content. So, whether you want to lose weight or just maintain your health while enjoying delicious food, it is a good idea to invest in a kitchen appliance that can reduce the oil content in your food.

Luckily, many companies have manufactured some helpful products you can use to cook plenty of healthy foods with as little hassle as possible. Two of those products that allow you to cook healthy but tasty food include the air fryer and the food dehydrator. 

However, the following debate arises: air fryer vs dehydrator. Which of these products is more suited for your cooking needs? Read on to get to the answer and more.

What Is an Air Fryer?

An air fryer is a small countertop appliance that works like a convection oven. It is designed to mimic deep frying without actually drenching the food in oil. An air fryer does not fry your food per se, but uses the same hot air circulation method a traditional oven uses to do the cooking.

The air fryer has a heating element that produces hot air and a fan that circulates the hot air in the cooking compartment. Depending on the model, the temperatures can go as high as 482°F (250°C). Some models also have timer and temperature setting adjustments to give you more control over the cooking. Plus, it only needs minutes to heat up, cooks faster than stoves and ovens, and uses less energy.

Conventional frying methods require you to submerge food in hot oil for cooking, heated well above the boiling point of water. On the other hand, air frying requires you to coat the food in as little oil as possible, place it in the air fryer basket which sits on an oil drip tray, then allow the circulating hot air to cook the food. As a result, the air fryer is able to brown foods using much less oil than a conventional deep fryer.

What Can You Do With an Air Fryer?

Air fryers are so versatile that you can use them to prepare several types of food, from homemade snacks to a wide variety of delicious meals. A few of them include:

Proteins

A standard air fryer can cook, fry, and bake proteins like lamb chops, steak, fish, chicken breast, and beef. Whether they are breaded or not, the air fryer cooks them evenly until they are juicy and tender.

Frozen Foods

You can also fry frozen foods that normally need to be deep-fried like french fries, frozen chicken wings, mozzarella sticks, and tater tots. Plus, if you freeze foods after drenching them in wet batter, you can fry them in an air fryer without worrying about them dripping.

Vegetables

Air fryers can prepare delicious vegetables without turning them into a soggy mess. Try cooking okra, potatoes, chickpeas, mushrooms, eggplants, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, carrots, peas, or green beans. With a tablespoon of oil or more, the air fryer softens the veggies but maintains a crunchy outer layer.

Leftovers

Everyone knows if you try to reheat leftover foods like pizza and other baked goods in a microwave, it turns into a soggy mess. If you use an air fryer, you can heat it up while also reviving the freshness.

Baking

Another great option is to use the air fryer to bake pastries such as cookies or cakes. With just a few baking accessory molds, you can also bake cakes, loaves, and muffins.

Grilling & Roasting

Some air fryer models allow you to grill and roast foods.

Pros and Cons of Using an Air Fryer

Now, let’s look at the pros and cons of using an air fryer for your healthy cooking.

Pros
  • Reduces health risks associated with excess grease in food
  • Enhances flavor and visual appeal of foods
  • Cooking process saves time
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to clean and use
  • Suitable for baking, grilling, frying, roasting, and steaming
  • Helps save on energy
  • Compact size allows you to effectively manage kitchen space
Cons 
  • May need additional accessories to fully enjoy an air fryer.
  • Cannot cook large food quantities

Things to Consider Before Buying an Air Fryer

Because there are different models of air fryers on the market, it is in your best interest to carefully select the ones best suited for your needs. Here are some things to consider before buying an air fryer:

Controls

While some models have temperature controls that can regulate or set temperatures up to 400°C, others have a singular temperature setting. You may also prefer a model with programmable cooking functions such as a reheat button for leftovers, or preset buttons to cook certain types of food like chicken or fish.

Ease of Use

Consider how convenient it is to use the air fryer. Can everyone in your household use it without having to consult the manual every time? How easy is it to load, disassemble, and clean? You should only consider buying one that offers you relative ease.

Storage Space

The size of the air fryer you buy depends on the amount of food you plan to cook and your available counter space. Most air fryers can cook food for 1-2 people at once. If you are cooking for more, you should consider getting a larger model, even though it will take up more counter space. If you don't have enough space, you can always buy a smaller unit.

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Some air fryers have front drawers to load food in the air fry basket, while others have a flip-top lid. The models with a front drawer are more convenient and safer to use.

What Is a Food Dehydrator?

A food dehydrator is a kitchen appliance that helps you to prepare nutritious food from the comfort of your home by removing moisture from food products without sacrificing taste and nutrients. Food dehydration makes a healthy snack of dried fruits by removing the water content in ordinary fruits. Vegans or people on a raw food diet can enjoy the many benefits of using a dehydrator.

Food dehydrating has always been a popular method of food preservation because the bacteria and other microorganisms that cause food spoilage thrive in moist foods. However, removing the moisture content of food inhibits bacteria growth, increases food shelf-life, and eliminates food waste.

A dehydrator uses warm air to remove water from food. Compared to other products that perform a similar function, the power consumption of a dehydrator is low, which is a bonus once you consider the extended periods of time required to fully dry foods. The food dehydration process takes time but the finished product is worth every minute spent.

A major benefit of using this device is that dehydrated foods maintain their nutritional value because the heat from the dehydrator is not high enough to break down important nutrients. Even the healthiest method of cooking foods (e.g., steaming) still uses temperatures high enough to break down nutrients.  

There are two major types of dehydrators, depending on their airflow: horizontal and vertical.

What Can You Do With a Dehydrator?

Dehydrators have so many uses, depending on the type of food you are cooking. Some of them include:

Fruits

Different types of fruits can be dehydrated at a high temperature of 135°F. A dehydrated fruit will have an intensified sweetness and flavor, and can stay on the shelf for an extended period. Plus, fruits that are not usually sweet end up with a better flavor. This is good news for people who have a sweet tooth but still want to eat healthy.

Vegetables

Vegetables that are sensitive to heat can be dehydrated at a lower temperature of 125°F to retain their nutrients and color. The temperature can even go as low as 95°F to accommodate herbs and other delicate types of foods. This means you can buy fresh food in bulk to be dried and stored for later.

Meat

Meat can be dehydrated to produce delicious beef jerky by dehydrating at 160°F, then at 130°F to eliminate any remaining bacteria.

Snacks

You can also make dry, homemade pasta, fruit bars, granola bars, and ferment yogurt using a dehydrator.

Baked goods

If you have stale baked foods like cookies, a food dehydrator can reheat and restore crispness.

Crafts

Some artsy people also use a dehydrator to dry molds and potpourri for DIY projects.

Pros and Cons of Using a Food Dehydrator

Now, let’s look at some of the pros and cons of using a food dehydrator:

Pros
  • Increases food shelf life
  • Save money because you can buy fresh produce in bulk
  • Intensifies the flavor of dried fruits
  • Maintains nutritional value after cooking
  • Greater flexibility and monitoring of food content
Cons 
  • Can be large and bulky, taking up space in your kitchen
  • Long Dehydrating process might lead to increased electricity bills
  • Lower-quality models tend to be noisy

Things to Consider Before Buying a Dehydrator

Having a good idea of what to expect with a dehydrator will help you make more informed choices on the model that best suits your needs. The following are some of the things to consider before buying a dehydrator:

Airflow and Heat Distribution

The biggest challenge of using a dehydrator is ensuring the heat is evenly distributed, which ensures uniform drying. Make sure your dehydrator has effective airflow so it can distribute heat evenly to food items further from the heat source.

Convenience and Ease of Use

A dehydrator should be easy to clean and put together once taken apart. Also, although using a food dehydrator is a relatively easy process, you could benefit a lot from a few features that allow you to dry food without having to constantly monitor the process or switch trays. Some of these features include:

  • Adjustable thermostat to regulate and control temperature
  • Timer to alert you when food is ready to be taken out
  • Auto-shutoff that turns off the dehydrator once the food drying process is complete

Size and Capacity

The bigger the dehydrator, the larger the capacity, and the more space it takes up on your counter. Your choice depends on how much food you will be drying and how often you plan to use it. If you plan to dry a lot of food and in short intervals, then a larger-sized model will work better for you. Otherwise, get a smaller one.

Noise

Since dehydrators are equipped with a fan, you would expect them to produce some amount of noise. However, the amount of noise produced varies by model. If you want to enjoy as much quiet as you can at home, stick to higher-quality models that don’t make much noise.

Similarities: Air Fryer vs Dehydrator

Although they both serve different functions, there are still similarities between both appliances. Some air fryers can even serve the purpose of a dehydrator. Some of these similarities are:

  • Can cook nutritious foods with as little oil as possible to enjoy a healthy diet
  • Evenly cook your food using air circulation
  • Easy to use and clean, with some parts being dishwasher safe
  • Can cook a wide range of foods with both appliances to diversify your diet
  • Equipped with timers to allow stress-free cooking

Differences: Air Fryer vs Dehydrator

Working Mechanism

A dehydrator has several stainless steel trays where you place food to be dehydrated. Once you power it on and set the right temperature, the fan blows hot air to dry your food.

On the other hand, an air fryer uses fast-air technology to circulate hot air and heat up food that would have required a large amount of boiling grease to cook otherwise.

Cooking Time

An air fryer cuts down conventional cooking time, allowing you to cook even faster than traditional methods. A food dehydrator may take several hours to complete the drying process. 

Appearance

Dehydrated foods always have a different appearance from their hydrated versions. Sometimes, due to the moisture loss, they appear duller. The reverse is the case with foods cooked in an air fryer, as they become even more vibrant in color.

Food Storage

Food cooked in a dehydrator can last for months without spoiling. You can effectively manage surplus food, especially when stored in a vacuum bag. However, food cooked in an air fryer is subject to the same spoilage time as regular foods. 

Capacity

A dehydrator has a lot of storage space to dry large amounts of food at the same time. If you want to cook large quantities of food with the air fryer, you need to complete the process in several batches.

Water content

While a dehydrator completely eliminates the moisture content of food, an air fryer maintains the same relative moisture content that the food would have had in conventional cooking styles.

Final Thoughts

As you can see, you can still eat healthy without sacrificing flavor. Modern technology has given us two kitchen appliances that make the food options for healthy living limitless. Your choice on which is better in the air fryer vs dehydrator debate depends solely on your needs. Once you have figured out what those are, you can invest in buying one of them or going all out to splurge on both!

10 Things To Look For In A Food Dehydrator

Whether you want to make your own beef jerky, healthy fruit leather snacks for your children or increase the variety of food options in your kitchen you’ll need a dehydrator. Food dehydrator use has become extremely common in recent years.

With the increase in its popularity especially among fitness and health enthusiasts the industry has grown a lot. You can find various brands and models with different features and price ranges. The results vary and depend on not just your drying process, but also the machine itself. If you’re new to the world of food dehydrators, picking one can seem like a difficult task. 

So, before you can pick a brand or choose a model you need to know what to look for. This will help you pick a dehydrator which can offer the results you’re looking for. The only way to avoid making a bad purchase or buyer’s regret is to do research beforehand. 

Figuring out your drying needs is a good place to start. So, a few questions to ask yourself may include:

  • Do you have a specific budget?
  • What kind of foods do you want to dehydrate? 
  • Are you plant-based or looking to make your own jerky? 
  • Is your goal drying hom-grown or store bought produce? 
  • What quantities do you need to dry at one time? 
  • Do you use a dishwasher to clean your trays? 
  • If you have recipes in mind what temperature ranges do they require? 

Once you figure out what your needs are you can start looking for a dehydrator that caters to those requirements. Whether you’re purchasing your first food dehydrator or swapping yours out for a newer model here are 10 things you need to consider. 

Ample Space

As a baseline you need to know what your space requirements are so you can get a suitable dehydrator. Not just in how much food you’ll need to dry at a single time, but also in terms of storage space in your kitchen. Understandable, bigger models are more expensive so you’ll need to work within your budget.

If you feel like you’ll need to dehydrate large quantities or that your batch size may increase over time you should get a model with expandable trays. This is particularly helpful for people who host lunches or parties. Food dehydrator use is extremely diverse so you can even make multiple batches of fruit leathers for children’s parties or bake sales. That gives you a fun yet healthy option that children will enjoy because they taste similar to taffy.

With designs that have expandable trays you can get a smaller model that fits your day to day needs and add more trays when you’re catering to larger groups. You can even purchase more trays later. When there are a fixed amount of trays you’re setting a cap on the batch size you can get. 

It’s important for buyers to know that this is an option. Otherwise, they may end up spending extra on a model that’s too big just because they have to cater a few events a year. Or alternatively, miss out on an expandable model that would better cater to their needs.

Shelving Strategy

As a thumb rule you never want to show up at an outlet with no idea what the product options are. That gives the sales person a bad impression and also generally sets you back because if you don’t know what you want chances are you won’t like whatever you do end up getting.

When it comes to food dehydrators you get two main types with the variation being in the shelving strategy. 

Type 1 – Stacking

The idea is in the name. With stacking you get one tray on top of another tray with the fan generally in the bottom of the dehydrator. But it can also be placed in the power unit. So, the air circulates through the passage between trays. This automatic filtration process means you don’t have to put in the extra effort to rotate trays. 

You can add or remove trays and increase or decrease the batch size depending on your needs. With stacking you get greater capacity which is what makes it so popular among buyers. On the negative side, it’s harder to check on the food in each tray while it’s drying. If you’re new to food dehydrator use then this may present a problem. With this type of dehydrator you also have to make sure you’re stacking around the hole in the center and avoiding the channel

Type 2 – Shelving

The second option is for dehydrators that have built in shelves. These shelves slide in and out which some users find easier. The fan is in the back as opposed to the bottom so it’s blowing air horizontally. That gives you a more even and consistent drying effect. Similar to the previous type there is no need to rotate trays.

Dehydrator sheets with apple slices and cinnamon

The advantage of the shelves system is that it’s easy to check whether your items are done because you can simply pull the trays out. You also don’t have to worry about where you’re placing trays. Since there is no channel you can utilize all the available space to set your trays. 

However, now you have the opposite problem. Because the shelves are built in the space is restricted and you can’t increase the shelving capacity. Since you’re not stacking you can only fit as many trays as each shelf will hold. 

Overall, both types offer different pros and have different cons. It all depends on your preferences and needs. 

Temperature Controls

Different recipes require different temperature settings. This is important to note, especially if you’re completely new to food dehydrator use because many models come with a fixed temperature setting. The number one factor you need to look for when you’re buying a dehydrator is an adjustable thermostat.  

Having one setting is extremely limiting and will ruin your drying experience. You want to be able to try a variety of fun recipes and change the settings accordingly. When it comes to adjustable thermostats the general range is from 95 F to 155 F. The specifics may vary from one model to another, but if the values are near this range you’re good to go. 

Don’t be concerned if a recipe asks for a higher temperature than this. You don’t need to go looking for a 200 F thermostat for one product. Increasing the drying time will give you the same result.

Fan Position

The position of the fan matters because they control the quality of airflow and circulation. You’ll find three common fan positions. So, they’ll be placed on the bottom of the dehydrator, the top or at the back. If the fan is on the top or bottom you’re getting vertical airflow and if it’s in the back you’ll get a horizontal airflow. 

A horizontal circulation pattern gives you a more even and consistent drying effect. You also won’t need to rotate trays. If the dehydrator has a vertical circulation pattern the trays on the top and bottom will receive different amounts of heat exposure so you won’t get the same effect. This is a less efficient distribution system and is harder to clean.

The fans themselves will range from four to seven inches in diameter and consume between 300 to 1000 W of power. Specific details vary depending on the brand and the price. On occasion you may find a dual fan option. This is not necessarily an upgrade because it makes the system noisy. However, if you’re willing to overlook that for better airflow it is an option.

Accessories

Often the differences between models come down to the accessories they have. For example, a clear door is a plus because it lets you check on the food without opening the door. With a dark or opaque door you have to open it to keep an eye on the progress and you lose heat each time. 

When you’re dehydrating food you want to maintain a consistent temperature over a given time so a clear door is definitely a point to put on your checklist. Another accessory that can help is a timer. While you can obviously clock the time with your phone or a separate device, having a timer on the machine is an added convenience. 

Some models come with an added feature where the dehydrator turns off as soon as the timer rings. If this is a specification available to you, consider the value it may add to your purchase. 

BPA Free Products

BPA or bisphenol A is a chemical used in polycarbonate plastics which are materials used to make food containers. Other forms of plastic that are not BPA free have harmful chemicals and should not be used for cooking or storing food. They can cause health concerns like heart problems or asthma. 

So making sure your dehydrator is safe for use and made using a BPA free material especially because they use heat to cook. You don’t want your machine releasing toxins at a high temperature. Generally, brands will list this on their site clearly so it’s easy to tell if a food dehydrator is BPA free.

Dishwasher suited

With dehydrators like with all cooking devices cleanliness and hygiene is key. If you’re drying meats they’re going to give off juices. If you’re dehydrating fruits and vegetables they will also leave sticky residue behind. Washing your trays after each use is essential and not a step you can even skip. 

That’s why you should find out whether your chosen mode comes with dishwasher safe trays. Remember this is not a factor you should take for granted. In fact, many dehydrator trays are too big for machine handling and require hand washing. Getting a tray you can wash with the rest of your load will make your life a lot easier.

Price

With dehydrators like with all products there is a huge price range. You can find a quality product for $100 or $500. However, your goal should always be to find the features you need in a food dehydrator that fits within your budget. There are a lot of overly priced models so if you don’t find a suitable one on your first try don’t overspend, just keep looking.

Warranty

Cooking devices are complex machines that get a lot of use. You want a product that comes with a considerable warranty so you can get it repaired if it breaks down. Find out if the company offers replacement parts and whether the service charges are covered. Certain brands even offer up to 10 year warranties.

Storage needs

Getting a dehydrator isn’t just about how much use you can get out of it. A bigger model may have more tray space but it also needs more storage. When you’re surveying the market and looking at kitchen appliances it’s easy to get distracted by all the options and features. However, if there’s one thing you need to remind yourself over and over again it’s this, “how much space does your kitchen have?”

Make sure you’ve allocated shelf space before you start looking at your option. Also, consider that a square design is easy to place next to a wall, but that fancy ground model you like will cause problems in your kitchen. If you have ample space and have already allocated an area then by all means get the round model, just as long as you’re considering all the long-term needs.

Conclusion

Overall, food dehydrator use depends on a few key factors. The basic idea is to remove water from the raw ingredients without reducing their nutritional value. Dehydrators are designed to maintain the alkalinity of your produce and preserve the food without using preservatives. As such you want a machine that controls and manages both temperature and airflow efficiently.

When it comes to specific models you should consider questions like:

  • How much shelf space do you need?
  • Will an expandable tray option add value for you?
  • Do you want the stacking option that lets you add more trays or the shelving model which lets you check on the progress of your food?
  • Does the model cover essential factors like an adjustable thermostat, clear door, BPA free material and warranty?
  • Will the size and shape of the device make it easy to store in your home?

If a food dehydrator fulfills your needs and fits your budget do not hesitate to purchase it right away because this product will change your life. 

10 Reasons To Buy A Food Dehydrator

If you’re considering purchasing a food dehydrator you may be wondering if it’s really worth it. After all, this isn’t a regular appliance like a food processor or blender. Dehydrators are not a staple in every household. And they can cost a decent amount of money, with a starting price of $50 going all the way up to $500 for more advanced machinery.

So, why are so many people investing in dehydrators? What are the benefits and is there merit behind this trend? Can owning a food dehydrator actually improve your health and wellbeing?

Pushes you to eat healthy

Yes, food dehydrators are a significant expense. And while this can put a lot of potential buyers off you also have to look at the flip side. When you’re investing in a product like a food dehydrator you are committing to a healthier lifestyle. After all, you’re not going to buy it just to place it on a shelf. 

Because of how our lives are structured and how busy most people are, fitness can often take a backseat. When you’re spending money on a new product you are essentially incentivizing yourself to do better, whether that’s a fit-bit, a new elliptical machine or a food dehydrator. 

Some of the common fruits and vegetables people dry include peaches, strawberries, cherries, apples, tomatoes, and kale. These are all incredibly powerful ingredients that are chock full of essential vitamins and minerals. Pineapples and mangoes are also popular choices. 

Dehydrating these items lets you add a lot of diversity and flavour to your diet. It also makes nutrition fun. Every day becomes a new adventure as you decide what new and exciting meal to plan. It recenters the conversation around healthy food. At the end of the day, any item that pushes you to make positive lifestyle changes is not a wasted expense.

Gives you options

Part of the excitement of getting a food dehydrator is all the variety it adds to your kitchen. Dried fruits and vegetables lets you experiment with your meals. Whether you’re making smoothie bowls or trying out new salad options you get to try something new everyday. 

Not because you’re buying extravagant ingredients like oysters or lobsters but simply because of the range of textures and flavours you now have access to. With a food dehydrator you can recalibrate raw food items in a variety of ways. Generally, a dehydrator comes with an adjustable thermostat and multiple temperature settings. Also, remember that you don’t have to stick to the recipe instructions by the letter. 

For example, if you’re trying a new recipe and it tells you to set the temperature at around 140 F but your machine only goes up to 115 F that’s perfectly fine. You can increase the drying time to get the same result. A food dehydrator also isn’t just for storing ingredients. You can use it to heat up your soups and sauces, make bread or bake cookies. 

Often casual users make the mistake of overlooking all the facilities a dehydrator offers in terms of cooking technique. The breadth and range of its use depends entirely on your cooking needs and other appliances. In short, you can use it for whatever you want. 

Lets you save money

The number one reason most people don’t eat healthy is because nutritious food options cost more. If you want to buy quality fruits and vegetables year-round you’ll have to spend a lot of money. With a food dehydrator you can cut down on a significant portion of that expense.

As a general rule, all fruits and vegetables have a short window where they are at their cheapest, otherwise known as prime season. Since production in these weeks is so high quality items will flood the market at low rates. Wait a few months and the same items will cost twice or thrice as much. This is the off-season.

Purchasing larger quantities of fruits and vegetables when they are on sale and drying them lets you eat healthy year-round without stretching your budget. Whole-sales retailers often put fruits like mangoes, strawberries, peaches and bananas on sale when they are ripe. That’s because they’re trying to sell their stock before it goes bad.

Go to the right farmers market and you can even negotiate rates depending on how much you’re buying. Then you can add nutritious dried fruits to your cereals, smoothie bowls, salads, and lunch dishes for months after and load up on essential vitamins and minerals. Shopping for nutritious meals on a budget is a skill and a food dehydrator is a necessary tool in your arsenal.

Camping snacks

If you’re someone who is fitness oriented chances are that this consciousness translates to all aspects of your life. Whether you’re a camper, hiker or backpacker dehydrated ingredients make for tasty snacks that take up very little space. On one hand removing water from fruits and vegetables reduces their weight. 

So, you may not be able to carry a heavy watermelon on your trip but you can take dried chips with you. These also won’t go bad over a few days which is an added plus. Additionally, you can convert complex foods such as spaghetti into a dried form fit for transport. That way, you just need to add sauce on the road and you’ll have hot and delicious spaghetti. With a stove you can even use dehydrated tomato sauce to add texture and flavour.

Overall, a food dehydrator is a necessity for travelers and hikers who want interesting food choices for their trips.

Healthy snacks for children

Anyone who has tried to shift their children to a healthier plant-focused diet knows that the process is more important than the end result. Kids like cutting, slicing, drying and arranging their snacks. So the dehydrating process is immensely appealing for them. When it comes to taste, dried fruits often have the same texture as taffy which is a definite plus.

Fruit leathers are a great way to get a child interested in a healthy diet and fulfil their vitamin and mineral needs. These include bananas, mangoes, watermelon, pineapples, strawberries, or any other fruits they like. A nutritious dried fruit spread lets you cater children’s parties without adding junk food options.

Grow your own food

If you are an individual who wants to shift your household to a healthy, organic product based diet you’ve probably run into your fair share of hurdles. Organic produce isn’t readily available in every neighbourhood and it’s always more expensive than lower quality products. Growing your own food is one way of shifting your whole diet to an organic base without breaking the bank.

The concern then becomes, how do you grow enough food? Unless you have acres of land to farm for yourself there is a distinct limit to the amount of fruits and vegetables that you can both produce and store. While gardening is a therapeutic pastime for many people stocking and managing their produce is a common concern. 

If you want to grow a wide variety of fruits and vegetables in your garden but don’t have a way to store them you should consider investing in a food dehydrator. By drying produce you can save it for later and eat healthy no matter the time of year or the state of your garden. Even if you lose a certain crop because of pests or rain you’ll have dried reserves to fall back on.

Some popular vegetables to dehydrate include tomatoes, pepper, kale,parsley, peas, carrots, radishes and garlic. You can easily rehydrate and add them to soups and stews or use the flakes and powders directly as seasonings in your salads and sauces.

Make your own flavourings

Artificial flavourings are not a healthy food option. With a food dehydrator you can dry herbs to form flakes or powders that you can use with your meals. The idea here is that you don’t need new or unusual ingredients to elevate your meals. Instead you can use everyday items like basil, mint, thyme, rosemary and ginger. 

Drying them sharpens the taste and changes the texture. Experimenting with different heating options will allow you to explore the range of results you can get. Generally, heating these herbs at an even temperature of around 100 F for two to three hours is enough to achieve this effect.

Healthy snack options

If you’re always on the go it’s a good idea to have a few snacks in your bag to keep you charged throughout the day. For most people this means tasteless granola bars from the grocery story. But healthy snacks don’t always have to be a chore to eat. 

With a food dehydrator you can mix and match different fruit leathers and create your own healthy and taste snacks. Whether you’re in the office, at the gym, or on the go these fun food options add some much needed variety to your travel food. 

You can use fruits like apricots, bananas, apples, berries, grapes, pineapples and pears to get a sweet base. Other items like granola, nuts and seeds can add some much needed texture. Dehydrated food snacks give you a lot of variety to work with so you can make snacks based on your personal preferences.

Make your own jerky

One of the most popular reasons why people buy food dehydrators is to make beef jerky. When it comes to popular American snacks jerky is definitely at the top of the list. You can add it to your breakfast or lunch, chew on it while hiking, take it to the library, or nibble on a piece between classes. 

Store bought versions are expensive and the quality may vary depending on where you buy it. With a food dehydrator you can dry beef, fish, and turkey to make your own tastier jerky. This also lets you add spices to task although pre-mixed spice sets are readily available.

Preserve food

Finally, food dehydrators let you preserve food. Similar to canned options, dried food items last months in your pantry and up to a year in the fridge. However, nutritionally dehydrated fruits and vegetables are better than canned foods because they don’t use preservatives. The lack of chemicals means that the original health benefits of these items are maintained over time.

So, if you’re looking for a way to preserve and store food then a food dehydrator is a must buy.           

Conclusion

Overall, a food dehydrator has a lot to offer in terms of value for money. You get to experiment with dried fruits and vegetables which is an appealing prospect for customers who like to cook. With this equipment you can elevate the same food items you use on a regular basis to create new and creative dishes.

This means you’re more likely to stick to a healthy diet because you have a wider range of nutritious items to choose from. Making plants based diets fun is the only way to sustain a healthy lifestyle. Additionally, a food dehydrator lets you preserve key ingredients even after they go out of season. 

Having a bowl of dried organic strawberries to add to your summer salads can give your lunch options a much needed kick. All fruits and vegetables have a prime season when they’re at their cheapest and trying to buy the same items at any other time can cost a lot of money. With a food dehydrator you can enjoy your favourite meals year-round.

When it comes to purchasing a quallity dehydrator you have a lot of options to choose from. The prices for these items vary based on the temperature range offered, size of the machine, tray capacity and drying options. You should also look into the specific usage for each dehydrator based on your needs.

For example, if your primary goal is to make beef jerky look for a dehydrator that has been designed with that in mind. At the end of the day, there are endless options to choose from, no matter your budget or requirements. So good luck choosing!

Food Dehydrators To Make Your Own Healthy And Tasty Food

Do you have a large quantity of home-grown vegetables or fruits? Are you keen to make some homemade fruit roll-ups or other homemade healthy snacks? Are you looking for fresh treats for your dog? 

If your answer is yes, then food dehydrating is your answer to having all these and more healthy options instead of store-based snacks. Additionally, you can come up with creative uses for your food hydrator, such as preserving your leftover fresh herbs instead of letting them wilt. 

Simple and economical to use, food dehydrators offer healthy food options to replace store-based food items.

What do food dehydrators do?

Food preservation by dehydrating has been practiced for a very long time. This is because of the simplicity of this technique and the minimal requirements for the process. All that was needed was a safe place for the food to be stored as the moisture dried out. When foods are dehydrated, they are left with concentrated flavors, making the herbs more flavorful and the fruits sweeter.  

The drying process can become nearly perfect with an electric food dehydrator because of the precise air circulation and temperature controls. Dehydrators often have trays that can be easily stacked for maximising the drying area. You can choose between small and large ones based on the quantity of food you want to dehydrate at one time. 

Several factors affect the drying time your food dehydrator requires despite providing a controlled environment, such as differences in the vegetable or fruit sizes, uneven slicing, or differences in the moisture amounts. For best results, always take time in preparing the foods to maintain similarity in thickness and size. 

Read on to find out more about some of the best food dehydrators that will enable you to make delightful dry snacks in your own kitchen:

NESCO FD-1040 Gardenmaster Digital Pro Dehydrator Review

The dehydrator has four trays only; however, you can purchase and use up to 20 additional trays. This provides you with a large amount of space to dry your food. When you add more trays, the drying pressure automatically adjusts according to the number of trays so that the drying process takes place evenly irrespective of the quantity of food you place in them. The digital temperature control can be adjusted from 90 degrees Fahrenheit to 160 degrees.  

The top-mounted fan in this unit comes with a timer that you can set in hours, from one hour to 48 hours depending on your required drying time. The 1000 watts in this model usually needs 10 hours for jerky and 6-10 hours to dry fruit.  

The exterior of this food dehydrator is white and comes with a fruit roll sheet and a screen. If you are looking for more drying space, you can choose the version of this model that comes with six trays, three screens, three roll sheets, a jerky gun, and six packs of jerky spice. 

According to our market research, the digital time settings and temperature of the NESCO Gardenmaster set it apart from competing dehydrators available currently. 

COSORI Premium Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator CP267-FD

This is one of the best-looking dehydrators available in the market. The sleek design is available in black and stainless steel and has a glass door so that you can observe the drying process as it happens. You will find the digital control panel very intuitive and simple to use. The temperature can be set between 95 and 165 Fahrenheit, whereas the timer operates up to 48 hours. With this dehydrator, you are set to make loads of jerky, fruit leather and dried herbs.

The accessories include six stainless steel trays, a mesh screen to dehydrate smaller fruits, and a fruit roll sheet. The dishwasher safe food trays make cleanup easy. One of the best qualities of this model is its quietness. Because dehydrators often run for several hours, you will surely be happier with a silent dehydrator and not one that sounds like a noisy fan as you wait for your food to dry. 

Tribest Sedona Express SDE-S6780-B Digital Food Dehydrator 

You need this machine if you have a lot of produce from your garden or if you want to do your food dehydration on a professional level. The temperature can be adjusted from 77-167 degrees Fahrenheit. This temperature range means that your jerky can be cooked completely with this dehydrator without having to pre-cook at all. Additionally, you can also switch it automatically from a high temperature initially to a lower one later if you want to quick-dry your food without overcooking. 

With this model, you get 11 stainless steel trays. The LED interior light and glass door will make it convenient to check your foods as they dry. You can also choose between the several cooking modes such as raw, fast, continuous and combination. The timer offers the option to set it for up to 120 hours in all or 99 hours for one mode, which is more than you will probably need. The black exterior is sleek. The fan is placed at the rear of the unit along with the filter that keeps the dust out. This unit cannot be expanded.  

This dehydrator is top-of-the-line and can do everything, which shows in its price tag. To save some of the expense, you can replace the stainless steel trays with plastic ones, though the stainless steel trays will last for a longer time. To recover the cost, you may have to dry large amounts of kale chips, however, with its 10-year warranty, you are likely to get a lot of benefit out of it.

Excalibur 3926TW Excalibur 3926TW 9 

https://www.amazon.com/Excalibur-3926TW-Dehydrator-Temperature-Dehydration/dp/B008OJZRIE

This dehydrator model provides a large drying area with a total of nine trays that have a total surface area of 15 square feet. This can allow you to make seven pounds of jerky with some spare space. The trays all have a nonstick screen fitted inside that is very suitable for the drying process. You can also choose from other kinds of dehydrator sheets for the trays that are perfect to dry sauces and other thick liquids, or to make fruit leather. 

You can adjust the thermostat to various temperatures ranging from 105-165 degrees Fahrenheit. Using the 26-hour timer, you can place the food to dry while you sleep or work. The fan installed at the rear end of the unit ensures even circulation of air. 

For longer foods, such as celery, some trays can be removed to make sufficient space. Additionally, you can use the dehydrator for proofing dough before baking, or warming bread or rolls before serving. If you remove all the trays, you can use it for cultivating homemade yogurt. 

The model is available in two attractive colors and you can choose between black and white. One drawback of this dehydrator model is its rather large size that needs a large area to store. 

Nesco Professional 600W 5-Tray Food Dehydrator

This is the perfect dehydrator model for preparing dried foods in average-sized batches. It is available in a grey speckled exterior. You will get five trays when you buy it, but it can have up to 12 trays if you plan to work with large-sized batches. The model comes with an adjustable thermostat that allows you to adjust the temperature from 95-160 degrees Fahrenheit. The top-mounted fan is designed to direct the air downwards and horizontally on the food trays so the drying occurs evenly. 

You will get two solid line sheets with the dehydrator that are needed to dry sauces, make fruit rollups. There will also be two mesh sheets to use for other foods. You can use the three packs of jerky spice and make your first batch of jerky.   

Our product tester tried it and both the beef jerky and dried fruit were as flavorful as she wished. She thought that the dried fruit was chewier in comparison to the store-bought one which is exactly as she wanted it to be!

Cosori Original Food Dehydrator CO165-FD

This is a compact and affordable model that will be an excellent choice for you if are starting off with your food dehydration and do not require a large food capacity. The smart design comes in a round model and has a mesh screen, a fruit roll sheet, and five BPA-free trays. 

Once you get your jerky recipe down perfectly and want to increase your drying surface, you can get a pack of two additional racks. With the add-on, this model can hold up to seven trays at a time. The racks are easy to clean and dishwasher safe.

The unit is very simple to use. It also works quietly, which is important because dehydrators often run for several hours or even days. 

You can set the temperature and time using the digital controls. The range for temperature is 95-165 degrees Fahrenheit while the timer works up to 48 hours.This unit comes with a two-year warranty. 

NutriChef Food Dehydrator Machine Review

If you are looking for a food dehydrator to use occasionally instead of as means to feed yourself during the harsh, cold winter, you should probably go with a simple, budget-friendly model, such as the NutriChef. This model does all that you require at a very reasonable price. 

The unit’s working is controlled with one button which starts the process for dehydrating food. You can adjust the temperature up to 180 degrees Fahrenheit which enables you to dry your vegetables, fruits and herbs. The dehydrator comes with five stackable and removable trays which are easily cleanable. 

If you are new to dehydrating, you will surely find the simple style of the machine as it allows you to plug and play. However, the model could have included features such as an automatic turn-off and timer. According to the manufacturer, this unit is suitable for making jerky; however, some food safety sites have warnings regarding the use of simple dehydrators to treat meats. We suggest that you read all relevant information in detail before you use this unit for jerky. 

According to our product tester, the best feature of the NutriChef is its silent working. 

Presto 06300 Dehydro Electric Food Dehydrator Review

This dehydrator is the ideal starter unit and perfect to make small batches of foods. The unit comes with four trays; however, up to four additional trays can be added for twice the drying space. 

The placement of the fan in this unit is at the bottom, which makes it possible for food juices to fall onto it. However, if you keep this in mind while treating fresh produce, you can avoid it. 

The temperature is fixed consistently at approximately 165 degrees Fahrenheit and cannot be adjusted. This is an advantage for beginners as it makes the dehydrator very easy to use because you simply cannot set the incorrect temperature.

You can store the trays nested together for more compact storage. The cord also stores in the base so it is out of the way. You can purchase mesh sheets and fruit roll sheets to fit this unit. The clear top cover enables you to observe the drying process. The white exterior will blend into your kitchen. However, you will have to turn it off yourself as there is no timer. 

Hamilton Beach 5 Tray Digital Food Dehydrator

If you are looking for a dehydrator that you can place long herb sprigs, a steak, or vegetable strips in, you need a rectangular dehydrator. The Hamilton Beach comes with five trays in a rectangular shape. 

It also has a timer that you can set up to 48 hours. By using the automatic turn-off option, you can simply set the right time and walk away. The temperature control allows you to set it between 100-160 degrees Fahrenheit. The unit has a clear lid so that you can check up on your food as it dehydrates.  

This dehydrator comes with two specialty drying sheets, a solid sheet and a mesh sheet. The mesh sheet is suitable for dry herbs so that they do not fall through, while the solid sheet is appropriate for fruit purees. 

The continuous airflow ensures that the food is heated evenly and each food tray has the same dryness level, with no need for rotating them.  

Our product tester was very pleased with not having to babysit the dehydrator as she did not have to turn it off or rotate the trays. 

Final Verdict

The Nesco Gardenmaster Food Dehydrator gets our top spot. It is reliable, has an intuitive temperature-setting dial, and is affordable. Additionally, our tester’s dried fruit and beef jerky turned out beautifully with as rich a flavour as the store-bought counterparts. 

The Tribest Sedona Express Food Dehydrator is the right model for you if you are serious about dehydrating. It is a bit expensive; however, it runs very quietly and offers excellent temperature control (77-167F). 

Everything You Need to Know About Drying Coffee Beans

How do you like your coffee? And no, by that we don't mean with or without milk. Do you buy your coffee in the form of a coffee pod for a Keurig? Or do you get it in the form of a ground powder?

If you did not answer yes to either of those questions, there is a third option that you can choose. It includes getting your own coffee beans, drying them, and grinding them for a brilliant experience at home. 

A lot of the taste and color of coffee is lost when the beans you purchase go through the mass process of drying and powdering it. This means that your coffee seeds might not have the complete taste of natural coffee. 

Coffee Processing

There are multiple ways to process your coffee before it goes into what is in your cup. From when the coffee cherries bloom on the trees, they go through several steps before they end up as part of your morning ritual. The first step is to get the green coffee beans from the cherries. In the sections below, we discuss the most popular ways in which this is done around the world. 

Wet Process

As the name suggests, wet processing your coffee cherries means that the fruit covering the beans is removed before drying it. This kind of coffee is called washed coffee. 

There are multiple steps involved in this process of finally obtaining green coffee beans from their cherries. 

Water immersion: Immersing cherries in water makes the good quality ones sink to the bottom, while the unripe or damaged cherries will float to the top. This makes it easier to separate them to get a quality blend. 

Skin removal: Using water to press the fruit through a screen, the upper layers of the cherry are removed. The outer skin and pulp of the coffee cherries is easily removed in this process, leaving the bean along with some pulp at the end of this process. 

Pulp removal: Pulp can be removed from green coffee beans by several different methods. One option is to use fermentation to break down the cellulose around the beans. These can be later washed with water to easily break off the pulp. 

Another option is to use machine assisted wet processing. This process basically uses a machine to scrub the bean, removing the extra pulp from it. This does not cause any problems like change in coffee flavor, unlike in fermentation, but the mechanical aspect of the wet method means that some beans might get chipped or damaged in the process. 

Silver skin and parchment removal: The bean still has two layers left on it after mechanical scrubbing, namely the silver skin and the parchment layer. This is removed by drying out the bean in the sun or by using a machine dryer for the best results. 

We will learn more about sun drying in the next section. If you're interested, you can learn more about this by checking out this video on Washed Coffee Processing

Dry Process

Drying coffee beans is the oldest method of the first step toward making a good cup of coffee. In this method, coffee cherries are cleaned and dried under the sun to give them their signature taste and color. 

Dry coffee is also known as unwashed or natural coffee. Let's talk about the steps that are taken with the coffee cherries to ensure the best results. 

Harvesting: The first step toward the process is harvesting the cherries from the crops. This process basically involves plucking the cherries from the plants and collecting them for further treatment. 

Sorting and separating: Once you have the green coffee cherries, they are sorted and cleaned according to their quality. This is to ensure that low quality cherries do not find their way into the final product. If the cherries are under ripe or overripe, or damaged in any other way, they are separated in this process. 

Drying: These high quality cherries are then spread out to dry in the sun. Matting or brick patios are used to dry them. They are also turned around or raked to make sure that they dry evenly on all sides. This process usually takes up to four weeks. 

The drying process is one of the most important steps of treating coffee, as it has to have the right amount of dryness to ensure good quality and taste. If the cherries are retaining more water than necessary, they are prone to attack by fungi and other natural causes. 

On the other hand, if the cherries do not have enough water and are overdried, they can break easily, reducing the total output of the harvest. For this reason, proper care has to be taken while drying is done. 

While most coffees in the world are dried in the sun, there are areas with high rainfall or humidity where you need a machine to dry the cherries. This allows the plantations to increase the speed of the process as well as have more control over the moisture of the beans. 

Semi-Dry Process

There is a middle ground between the two options mentioned above when it comes to the processing method for coffee. While the dry method does not employ the use of water at all and the wet method uses lots of it, some countries like Indonesia and Brazil use a hybrid optional process for processing of coffee. 

The semi-dry process is used by small scale farmers in several parts of the world. Let's go over the steps that are taken as a part of this. 

Harvesting: The first step, as always, is getting the coffee fruits and cherries from the plants. 

Pulping: Farmers use puliping machines of their own construction or local sources to remove the outer layer of the ripe cherries manually. This means that the beans have some layers remaining on them, but most of the outer fruit has been discarded. 

Storage: After the outer layers are manually removed, the coffee beans are stored for a maximum of one day. This allows it to slightly dry off, making it easier for the next steps to be carried out. 

Washing: After being stored for a day, these coffee mills then wash off the remaining pulp from the beans. The storing of the beans for a day makes this process easier. 

Drying: Once the outer layers have been washed off, the beans are dried in the sun again in a natural process as mentioned in the previous sections. 

While this means of processing coffee is a good way of ensuring that the beans are not damaged or not too many pollutants are released in the environment, there are certain disadvantages to this method as well. For example, while the beans are stored after pulping, there is the risk of the fermentation process starting because of the sugar and bacteria present around them. 

For the process to work optimally and produce high quality coffee grounds, the drying process has to be carefully undertaken. The beans are kept in a constant state of motion to prevent the buildup of fungi and infections. 

Flavor

Since there are different ways of processing your coffee, it is natural that the taste, body, and flavor of each method will also give birth to different coffee grounds. With the wet method, dry method, and the hybrid method, the coffee retains and loses some of its original flavor and gains other aspects that give it its signature characteristics. 

Wet Process

Because wet processing uses a large amount of water over a large period of time for the cherries, a washed coffee blend will give you a clean taste with high brightness and acidity. 

However, because of the constant presence of water and the act of washing the beans multiple times, brewed washed coffee does end up losing a lot of its body. When we say body, it means a certain strength and heaviness that is present in every cup of coffee. 

Dry Process

As the dry process involves no presence of water and just uses the sun or machine drying to filter out the body of the fruit, it gives you a rich flavor. The body of such a coffee is quite heavy. 

The coffee will also be sweet and complex in nature, and will have a lower acidity and brightness. When we talk about acidity, it does not mean the pH level of the coffee. Rather, coffee acidity stands for a bright, sparkling sensation characterized by high quality blends. 

Semi-Dry Process

As the pulping method in this kind of coffee beans does not allow it to dry completely before the upper layer is removed, coffee beans produced by the hybrid method might have certain characteristics similar to that obtained in the wet process. 

Therefore, the coffee obtained from this method gives you a clean brew which has lost a lot of its body. You will also get a good brightness and acidity with this type of coffee. 

Other Types of Treatment

While these are the main steps taken to produce any kind of coffee, there are some other options that can be undertaken while drying coffee beans. These options are to change the taste or overall nature of coffee to suit personal preferences. 

Decaffeination

Decaf coffee is a popular option and is served almost everywhere in the world. This blend of coffee basically has the caffeine taken out of it, and is a good option for people who want to experience the taste of coffee before bed, or for people who do not want to subject their body to the effects of caffeine. 

Decaffeination is carried out before roasting. This means that the process is carried out directly on green coffee beans. This can be done in many chemical ways, including subjecting the coffee to pressurized carbon dioxide, as well as adding the coffee beans to an ethyl acetate solvent. 

These processes do not remove all of the caffeine present in coffee beans. Usually, even decaffeinated coffee has about 0.1% of the original caffeine content in it. 

Aging

While aging is a process that is normally associated with whiskeys and wines, there are certain use cases in coffee as well. Before the Suez Canal was opened, ships had to make a long journey before they could deliver coffee to Europe. 

This meant that the coffee was subjected to some time and salty air before it could reach its destination. However, because it had been going on for so long, Europeans developed a taste for that kind of coffee. After the Suez Canal was opened, the time taken for the coffee to reach them reduced, and with it, the taste changed. 

But Europeans did not enjoy this new taste of coffee, and this is where aging of coffee samples began. Aging is a coffee processing method where coffee beans are subjected to the same conditions as they did while they were on the ship in an effort to bring a similar kind of taste back. 

While this might seem like a strange request, there are some blends of coffee beans that can actually taste better once aged. Some beans are aged for more than 8 years to give them a signature taste. 

Final Word

Drying coffee beans is not a complicated process, but there are a large number of factors that go into what makes a good cup of coffee. Your personal preferences play a huge part in deciding which coffee is good, and some people might prefer a coffee with high acidity, while others might want something with a full body. 

In this article, we discussed the various ways of drying coffee beans and the various steps that go into each of these processes. We also discussed the different aspects of the finished coffee you get from them. If you're interested in similar topics, please feel free to check out our other articles as well!

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