How A Food Dehydrator Works

How A Food Dehydrator Works

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To get the best results out of any appliance, it’s highly recommended to understand how it works.

Food dehydrators were invented some time between the 18th and 19th centuries. However, they’re a bit of a newcomer to our kitchens. And unlike most domestic appliances, they need up to 26 hours to finish a dehydration batch.

If you’re wondering how food dehydrator works, then you’ll find the answer in the next sections, so read on.

Understanding How Food Dehydrators Work

The basic principle of drying foods is leaving fruits, vegetables, and herbs out in the sun and fresh air. The humidity gradually leaves the fresh foods, and eventually, they become totally dehydrated. That’s when they’re ready for consumption or long-term storage.

The Principle of Operation

Dehydrators follow pretty much the same principle; they heat up the food and circulate dry air all around it. An added perk with these appliances is the elimination of environmental pollutants. When food is left exposed to the elements, it usually gathers dust, bird droppings, and various other unwanted materials.

The Internal Structure

If you open the hood, you’d find underneath it a heating element, a fan, and several trays arranged in a stack. This is the basic structure, and it’s often augmented by control and monitoring systems.

Control and Monitoring

In addition, there are mechanical modules to adjust the airflow and keep the heat evenly distributed throughout the tray stacks. Otherwise, you’d get overcooked foods in some trays, and undercooked foods in others.

Adjusting the Dehydration Cycle     

This process could be quick or slow depending on the degree of cooking you prefer. The best option is to go with a slow cycle set at minimal heat. This way, you can retain the highest possible content of nutrients. 

Stacking Up the Food Dehydrator

Food dehydrators often come with several trays. This arrangement allows users to process various types of foods simultaneously.

Furthermore, using a large number of trays maximizes the utilization of the dehydration cycle. That’s because the appliance would use the same amount of power for half a tray or for ten trays full of produce.

For best results, we suggest the following tips:

  • Try to use all the trays in the dehydrator to save up on electricity.
  • Dehydrate foods that share similar heating requirements together.
  • Buy seasonal fruits and vegetables in bulk at budget prices, then dehydrate them.
  • If you have an herb garden; you can dry up mint, oregano, thyme, and any other aromatic greens using a long dehydration cycle at low heat.
  • Over-dehydration is much better than under-dehydration. Any remaining humidity could encourage bacterial or fungal growth in the dried foods.   

What Can You Put in a Food Dehydrator?

Pretty much any edible food substance can be dehydrated to extend its shelf life. You can get as inventive and creative as you like. Here are some suggestions for inspiration.

Fresh Fruits, Produce, and Herbs

There are plenty of foods you can dry up in a food dehydrator. Any fruit, vegetable, or herb can be processed and stored in your pantry. Even the ones that look soft and mushy can make flavorful chips, for example, bananas and mangos.

Dehydrate the kinds that your family likes best or the seasonal types that only appear briefly. A good idea is to stock up on food materials that you can use as snacks. Stuff you can include in a salad or a soup is also quite practical.

Thinly Sliced Meats

Moreover, you can slice up meats, poultry, or fish, and select a higher temperature to cook and dehydrate these cuts. You can marinate or spice them before dehydration for an extra bit of taste.

Citrus Peels

Another popular category is lime or orange peels. These citrous parts are amazing additions to various kinds of hot and cold beverages. They can also be added to cookies and cakes, and there are so many recipes for that!  

Flowers for Garnish

A rather sophisticated treat is drying up flowers, then using them as a garnish for fancy desserts. Pansies, lavender, and hibiscus are among the prettiest you can use in foods as well as beverages.


Some people prefer using the flowers in decorative ways, and they can get perfect results by dehydrating their favorite blooms.

A potpourri made from scented roses, jasmines, geraniums, and chamomile would be amazing. The best part is that this bunch would retain most of its color and fragrance after drying in a dehydrator. 

Final Thought

Now that you know how exactly the food dehydrator works, and the best way to use it, one thing remains: go ahead and stock up on your favorite fresh foods.

A pantry rich with dried seasonal fruits, vegetables, and herbs encourages cooking healthful and delicious meals.

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