Best Food Dehydrator for Jerky, Fruits, Vegs & More (A Quick Buy-Guide)
Want to enjoy dehydrated fruits and vegetables throughout the year but dread the food colors, preservatives, and fillers that packed foods come with? If yes, then I have an alternative for you. Use one of these best food dehydrators featured in this post and tried your hand at some delicious and healthy dehydrator recipes here.
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What Are Food Dehydrators?
Dehydrators or dehydrator machine or sometime refer as food dryers is a real investment that helps you enjoy a healthy meal every day without fearing the harmful effects of preservatives and other unsafe chemicals.
Previously, food dehydrators were seen as a big hulking thing that took an enormous amount of space, and it was almost impossible to store them in cupboards but not anymore.
Also, dehydrators contain stackable trays that allow passage of heated hot air passes through the drying trays and dry the food evenly. The dehydrator comes with an adjustable thermostat that keeps the temperature in control and dehydrates vegetables, fruits, herbs along with the meat.
This equipment is more efficient than an oven in terms of energy and time. You can easily adjust the temperature and maintain it for important low-temperature drying process. It preserves the minerals and vitamins in the food thus keeping its nutritional value intact.
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The Top 3 Best Food Dehydrator Reviews
Excalibur (3926TB) Food Dehydrator
Want a food dehydrator to dry large quantities of food products at home or for commercial use? If so then you must grab the Excalibur Food Dehydrator.
What we like about it...
- Lots of trays space
- Adjustable temperature control
- Easily accommodate thick food
- Timer with auto shut off
What we don't like...
- Quite expensive
- A little noisier
- Does not include solid sheet
Nesco (FD-75A) Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator
One of the cheapest food dehydrator available in the market - Nesco Snackmaker Pro. This food dehydrator is recommended for those who are planning to purchase their first food dehydrator.
What we like about it...
- Offer uniform drying
- Small size
- Easily expandable – can add up to 12 trays
- Ease of use
- Top mounted fan for uniform distribution
- Made in USA
What we don't like...
- No timer
- No on/off switch
Nesco (FD-61WHC) Snackmaster Express Food Dehydrator All-In-One Kit with Jerky Gun
Get a food dehydrator that has won many hearts. The Nesco dehydrator is also the best dehydrator for jerky as it comes with a jerky gun to make jerky quickly in an efficient manner.
What we like about it...
- Comes with a broad range of accessories
- Good number of racks and trays
- Top mounted fan for uniform heating
- Made from BPA free plastic
- Made in USA
What we don't like...
- Does not have a timer
- Bulky design.
We go through hundreds of products listing at Amazon and also study the ratings left by previous buyers to find the best food dehydrator for you. Besides that, we also calculate the overall net customer satisfaction (NCS) grade because we want to see how happy is the previous buyers with their purchase of the product.
From our finding, we can say that Excalibur and Nesco are the best dehydrator brands. These brands are popular and received many excellent ratings for their products and their price tag is reasonable too.
Also, the Excalibur, Nesco Snackmaster Pro and Nesco Snackmaster Express score favorably for the ratings as well as the NCS grade compare to the rest. We believe that you would find these 3 dehydrator models a good buy too. Also, you can find some good food dehydrator recipe book, here.
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How Do Dehydrators Work?
Electronic dehydrators remove moisture and help preserve fresh vegetables, herbs, fruits and meat. The dehydration process circulate warm air around the trays made from metal gauze and allow water to evaporate simultaneously.
As food is not cured in dehydrators, thus flavor and nutrients of food remain locked. In some cases, the flavor may intensify as a result of dehydration. In the end, you get dehydrated slices of fruits, vegetables, herbs or meat, which have longer shelf life.
Why Do You Need A Food Dehydrator?
If you have been thinking about buying a food dehydrator and has probably read a lot of food dehydrator reviews, you already know that this machine is one of the most versatile additions to your kitchen. Here are few reasons why you should have a food dehydrator in your kitchen.
Constant Supply of Dry Food
Do you have some favorite food such as fruits and vegetable such as fennel that you want to enjoy throughout the year? If yes, then you can easily get a year’s supply by dehydrating them and enjoying your favorite fruits and vegetables all year long. All you need to do is buy fresh products, dry them in the machine and use them when there is low season. Check here for how to store fennel.
Save You Money
If you love eating all kind of fruits, vegetables throughout the year, picking up a dehydrator machine can really save on your grocery bills. A dehydrator gives you the advantage to dry fruits, herbs, meat or vegetable and use them in low season. So now there’s no need to run to the grocery store and spend your money on buying packed food products loaded with preservatives.
Avoid Excessive Chemicals Loaded Food Products
Have you ever read the contents of packaged food? They are loaded with chemicals and preservatives which can have a harmful to your overall health. Though the preservatives make the food last longer, but they are highly poisonous to the body. The chemicals, preservatives, food coloring and saturated sugar, make the food products less healthy and reduce their nutritive value as well.
Make Food Tastier
Dehydrating food at home, make the food products healthier and infuse a great taste. For example, if you are planning to dehydrate nuts and seeds, soak them for 24 hours and then dry them at a low temperature, this gives the nuts an enthralling taste which cannot be achieved by any other method.
Benefits of Food Dehydrators
Using a food dehydrator has many advantages. For an instant, you can get a number of astounding benefits:
All Natural Preserved Food
Do you know that fungal and bacteria multiplies at a fast pace in the food that is raw and not dried? Using a food dehydrator can help you avoid the harmful effects of bacterial and fungal growth. Food dehydrators help you dehydrate the food that you have cultivated or bought from the store and preserve it for a long time without adding preservatives.
When you buy food from the market, you are sure that you have picked up the best available to you. And whenever you use a dehydrator to dry these foods, you can be certain that the nutritional benefits remain intact. However, this is not true with commercial food. You never know the source of commercially processed food and are even unaware of its quality.
Dried Food Can Be Taken Along
By replacing commercial food with home dried food, you can easily avoid the unhealthy fats and harmful chemicals. Another great benefit of dried food is that it can be easily carried along as it fits bag packs and purses.
How To Select The Right Food Dehydrator?
Here are some useful tips to pick up a good food dehydrator:
The Right Size
Will you be using the dehydrator daily or occasionally? How much quantity of food will be dried on a regular basis? Before making a purchase, you need to make sure you know what size will fit your requirements. A small dehydrator is ideal for single families while a bigger dehydrator is suitable for those who have a larger family member.
Durability and Strength
The best machine is the one that can be used for a long time and is worth the money spent. You should read the manufacturer specifications to known whether or not the dehydrator is sturdily built. The chosen dehydrator should withstand high temperature and resist corrosive saps.
View the Drying Process
A good food dehydrator should give you the ability to see the drying process without stopping the machine. Therefore, pick up a dehydrator that comes with a transparent cover so that you can easily view the progress. This is also an important feature to consider as some food and herbs dry faster as compared to others.
Number of Trays
The drying process can be lengthy. Therefore, you might find it inconvenient. Pick up a dehydrator that comes loaded with a number of shelves to accommodate all food in one go. Moreover, consider buying a dehydrator of a well-known brand for reliable performance.
How To Efficiently Use A Dehydrator
Placement of raw material
The first step in food drying is to arrange the food on the trays and do not overlap the food to ensure all food is evently cured.
Depending on how dry you wanted to cure the food, set the temperature to 104°F if you want to dry out the water content in the food entirely.
Rotation of Trays
You might want to check on the process after different intervals of time to ensure the process is running well. Also, don’t forget to rotate the trays on in a while for optimum result.
While food and vegetables take a shorter time to cured but meat and jerky can take as long as 19 hours for drying. When you see no moisture drop present inside the chamber, then it means the dehydration process is completed.
Storage: Once the food is dehydrated completely, cools it down and store it in an airtight container. And place the container in a cool and dry place. You can find some of the best container to keep dehydrated food, here.
If you find some moisture in food the after the process, then place them again in the dehydrator for another 1-2 hours to completely dry out the water content.
- Make sure do not have things that are obstructing the air ventilation around the food dehydrator to ensure optimum air circulation.
- Make sure food is arranged properly inside the drying trays and avoid overlapping.
- Flavours might be transferred between different food if you are trying to cure different type of food in one go. Hence, do not try to cure meat and fruit at the same time.
- Rotating the trays from time to time can help to improve the drying process.
Dehydrating food has been practiced for centuries and it's still widely used in the modern time. However, the method is much different as we use a food dehydration machine to efficiently cure the food and significantly shorten down the drying time.
In the old time, food was laid on a flat surface or hang on racks and let the food sunbath under the hot sun to dry out. Native used this method to preserve vegetables, fruits, and animal proteins after gathering and keeping them for later use during the time of winter.
Dehydrating food enabled them to store the food for long periods of time without fear of it spoiling. But, imagine how much nuisance the natives have to go through on preserving food when they don't have refrigerator or canning techniques that we have today.
While utilizing sun to dry food is effective but not very efficient especially if you are staying on the part of the world where sunshine is inconsistent. This is where a food dehydrator comes in handy. It wasn’t until after 1790 that the first dehydrator was introduced in France.
Out of the three, the Excalibur food dehydrator is my best food dehydrator pick, and I would highly recommend it too. The Excalibur Food Dehydrator adopts Hyperwave fluctuation technology and design that makes it exceedingly useful for your kitchen or a restaurant.
The Hyperwave fluctuation technology changes heat during the drying cycle for faster and better drying of the food. It dries vegetable, jerky, herbs and other food products easily and helps people enjoy their favorite food throughout the year. Or, if you are jerky lovers, the Nesco American Harvest food dehydrator is an excellent investment.
So there you have it. We hope that this post has given you useful information on food dehydrators. Btw, if you are a guava lover like me, I like to take them dry as a healthy snack. If you like to try some, here is a recipe you can follow.
Frequently Asked Questions
How does food dehydration work?
Drying or dehydrating food involving removing the moisture content as moisture can encourage the growth of bacteria or mold. The process is performed by circulating dry and hot air around the food. Even it is hot air, the heat is not high enough to cook the food but just enough to dry up the food.
What are the types of foods can be dehydrated?
Practically any food can be dehydrated. The most common food that people dehydrate are meats, vegetable and fruits. You cook a lot of western food, you likely need breadcrumbs. Dehydrate some bread and you will create breadcrumbs.
Herbs and spices are also appropriate to undergo dehydration. Some of the most common examples include drying garlic or onions to make flakes or powder.
Also, dehydrators are also commonly used to make soggy popcorn and potato chips to become crispy. Basically, any foodstuff which contains water can be dehydrated. Sometimes you just need to trial and error to figure it out.
Can you dry different foods together?
Yes, you can. But it is recommended not to cure different type of food together as the taste can be transferred from one food to another. You do not want your apple to taste like onion, right?
How long does the dehydration process take?
Depending on the type of food you are trying to dehydrate some can take up to 12 hours or more. Do not try to set high temperature just to get the process done faster as doing so can cause the exterior of the foods dried too soon, but the interior of the foods remain moist.
The exact length of time required for complete drying depends on different factors, which include:
- The amount of water content
- The amount of sugar content
- The size of each piece of food
- The amount of circulating air
- The humidity level in the chamber
- The temperature setting
- The type of dehydrator used
How do you know when food is entirely dehydrated?
There is no direct answer, but it is best to follow some recipe instruction. By looking at the food, it is hard to tell if the food is completely dehydrated. Like mentioned above, sometimes the food may appear to be cured but internally still has moist which are not thoroughly dried. Dehydrated food should not feel moist or sticky but leathery or hard.
Does dehydration affect the nutritional content of food?
Yes, but it is minimally affected. There are studies conducted and found out that sometimes certain food that dehydrated can increase the nutritional value as well as the flavor.
However, do take note that food that contained Vitamin A is not affected by dehydration, but light can impact have a negative impact on it. Hence, store the food in a cool and away from sunlight. For Vitamin C contained food, after dehydration, the nutrient will loss more compare to Vitamin A.
Foods containing magnesium, potassium, sodium or other minerals are not affected by dehydration. No minerals are lost. Carbohydrate and fiber content are not affected by dehydration too.
Calorie wise, there is nothing change. Although you might find that food like fruits might taste sweeter, but this is due to lack of moisture and no longer dilutes the sugar content.
What is the best way to store dehydrated foods?
Like any other food whether they are dehydrated or not, the best way to store them is using an airtight container. Keep it away from direct sunlight and in a cool and dry place.
Do dehydrated foods expire?
Dehydrated food can last for a long time. Depending on the type of food, some can last for a year or more. If dehydrated foods are correctly sealed and even vacuum packed, the food can be kept for several years. However, in most instances, dehydrated foods are used within the first year after processing.
Must dehydrated foods undergo treatment before hydration?
Pre-treating certain foods may improve the color and flavor. For example, apples and pears tend to oxidize and turn brown if not treated with lemon juice.
What’s the difference between dehydrated and dried foods?
Dehydrated foods have more moisture removed. As for dried foods, some of the moisture is still preserved, and that is why they are generally soft and sticky. Dehydrated foods are crisp, leathery or hard. Dehydrated foods also last longer in storage compared to dried foods.