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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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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