Best Food Dehydrator Reviews-Buyer Guide

Food Dehydrator Review

Drying food will preserve it and give it a different texture, and a food dehydrator is a machine which removes moisture from food to preserve it. An air flow and heat source work together to remove the water content from food. Fruit and vegetables are often more than 80% water and meat can be more than 50% water. 1920 is when the first commercial dehydrator was sold.

Most foods are dehydrated at 130 degrees F although 155 degrees F would be used to make meat jerky. If the temperature is too high, the food will become too hard on the outside but stay moist inside, and then it is likely to spoil inside. This is why you cannot dry food in a normal oven, because it does not get cool enough, and also because there is insufficient air circulation.

There are various food dehydrator brands and models to choose from, so it is worth finding out more about them before making your choice. Size is important since you can choose from countertop models or bigger, free standing ones. Some food dehydrators have stackable trays, and others are made of a rigid box with removable shelves. You can get a food dehydrator with a fan that moves the air horizontally, one that moves it vertically, or one with no fan. You can also get models for drying specialty foods. Perhaps you want to get a detailed handbook, tray screens, jerky-making kits with spices, or nonstick sheets for making fruit leather.

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TSM Products Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator with 10 Stainless Steel ShelvesTSM Products Stainless Steel Food Dehydrator with 10 Stainless Steel Shelves

This is a fairly large food dehydrator, measuring 19 x 17 x 16¼ inches. There are 10 stainless steel shelves, along with an 800-watt heating element and a fan to create horizontal air flow. This dehydrator is ideal for making apple chips, jerky, fruit leathers, or anything else which you want to dry. The food grade stainless steel housing is rust-resistant. While it is in use, the dehydration temperature stays constant, and there is an adjustable thermostat, so you can choose anywhere between 90 and 165 degrees F, depending on what you are making in there. The back panel is removable, to allow you to access and clean the electrical or motor components. Reviewers say this dehydrator works quietly and effectively, and you can put the shelves in the dishwasher after use for easy cleanup.

Interesting Food Dehydrator Reviews

The Nesco Gardenmaster holds up to 30 trays and is good for smaller items like dried flowers or herbs. The L’Equip Model 528 has 6 trays and is expandable to 20. Neither of these takes up much space, and they are good for a food dehydrating beginner. However, the heat distribution is not ideal, meaning the trays nearest the fan and heat element will dry quicker than the ones at the top, so you have to keep rotating them.
Try the Excalibur Garden model or the Living Foods Jumbo model if you want something larger. On the Excalibur model, the fan and heat source is at the back instead of underneath, so you do not have to rotate the trays. The Garden model can also be used for culturing yogurt or leavening bread if you take a few of the trays out.

Living Foods food dehydrators use convection drying instead of a fan, so it is quieter and does not use so much electricity. Drying will take longer with one of these though, especially if you are drying watery foods like peaches or tomatoes. These dehydrators are versatile though, and you can soften butter or honey, dry meats, fruits, and veggies, as well as rain-soaked clothing or shoes, flowers, paper-mâché crafts, water-damaged books and more.

Nesco FD-75PR 700-Watt Food DehydratorNesco FD-75A Snackmaster Pro Food Dehydrator, White

This is a great food dehydrator to choose, judging by the reviews. The fan is top-mounted, and you can set the thermostat between 95 and 160 degrees. There is no need to rotate the trays with this model because the flavors will not mix. This food dehydrator has 5 trays, and it comes with 2 mesh sheets, 2 solid sheets and 3 packages of jerky spice. Because the fan is on top and not on the bottom, the food dries more evenly. This is a very easy machine to use. There is no on/off switch and no timer either, so you need to keep an eye on the food while it dries, but those are minor issues since this machine works so well.

Nesco American Harvest FD-37 400 Watt Food DehydratorNesco FD-37A American Harvest Food Dehydrator, White, 400-watt

Save money by making your trail mix, dried vegetables, dried fruits, and jerky. This dehydrator will dehydrate your foods quickly and easily using its 400 watts of power. The temperature is preset at 160 degrees to dry jerky, herbs, vegetables, fruit or spices, as you wish. The fan dries everything well, and you do not have to rotate the trays. This is a very good food dehydrator which has good reviews. If you want to make it even larger and be able to dry more food at once, then this model can be expanded to 7 layers. Clean this as soon as you have finished drying because any bits of food are easier to get off if you do not wait.

Nesco/American Harvest FD-80 Square-Shaped DehydratorNesco FD-80A Square-Shaped Dehydrator

Save money by making your trail mix, dried vegetables, dried fruits, and jerky. This dehydrator will dehydrate your foods quickly and easily using its 400 watts of power. The temperature is preset at 160 degrees to dry jerky, herbs, vegetables, fruit or spices, as you wish. The fan dries everything well, and you do not have to rotate the trays. This is a very good food dehydrator which has good reviews. If you want to make it even larger and be able to dry more food at once, then this model can be expanded to 7 layers. Clean this as soon as you have finished drying because any bits of food are easier to get off if you do not wait.

Excalibur 3926T 9 Tray Large Food Hehydrator with 26-hour TimerExcalibur 3926TW Excalibur 3926TW 9 Tray Dehydrator with Timer White, 1, White

This food dehydrator has 9 trays so you can dry many items at one. There is a 7-inch fan, and the thermostat can be set anywhere between 85 and 145 degrees F. The horizontal air flow drying system allows you to dry everything quickly, easily and efficiently. You have 15 square feet of tray space with this model, which is part of the reason it costs more than some of the smaller ones. Food holds on to most of its nutrients and flavor when dried so drying food is a great idea for food storage and if you want to make trail mix or something ultra-portable. The manual which comes with this dehydrator will teach you how to use it, and it also features more than 50 recipes for you to try.

STX INTERNATIONAL STX-DEH-800W-XLS Dehydra 800-watt 10-Tray Food and Jerky Dehydrator

40-Hour Timer and 2 Silicone Mats for Fruit Roll-UpsSTX INTERNATIONAL STX-DEH-800W-XLS Dehydra 800-watt 10-Tray Food and Jerky Dehydrator

This is one of the highest rated food dehydrators. Measuring 19 x 19 x 15, it is going to take up a fair bit of space, but just imagine how much food you can dehydrate in there at once. This model offers 800 watts of power and 14 square feet of drying space. The 10 trays are BPA-free and can be cleaned in the dishwasher. You also get a 4 drawer blank for dehydrating items up to 6 inches high, or raising bread or yogurt-making, which is handy. This dehydrator comes with a 1-year fix or replaces guarantee including parts and labor, and more than 30,000 of these have been sold to happy customers over the past 7 years. Reviewers love how this machine can hold plenty of food at once, and they also like its consistency and capability. This is one of the best-performing models on the market.

Nesco FD-60 Snackmaster Express 4-Tray Food DehydratorNesco FD-60 Snackmaster Express 4-Tray Food Dehydrator

This 4-tray food dehydrator dries your food quickly and efficiently. It features a top-mounted fan, and the thermostat ranges between 95 and 155 degrees F so you can match the temperature to the food you want to dehydrate. This 500-watt dehydrator comes with a fruit roll sheet and 2 jerky spice and cure packages. The machine itself measures 13" x 13" x nearly 10 inches so it can sit on your kitchen countertop and do its job without being in the way. Food dehydrators come in much bigger sizes than this, but if you just want to do occasional food dehydrating, then you do not require a huge machine.

“Raw Food Dehydrators: Do You Need One?” Video Guide

Watch this video of “Raw Food Dehydrators: Do You Need One?”

Tips for Dehydrating Food

Food dehydration has been practiced for hundreds of years and was a food preservation method long before freezing and canning were invented. It is simpler to dehydrate something than to can it, and dehydrated food takes up far less space than canned or frozen foods. Dehydrating often reduces the weight of food by up to 90%, which is why many hikers own a dehydrator. You can make all kinds of delicious snacks using one of these machines. Apples are often dehydrated, and it is best to dip these in a lemon juice and cold water mixture to stop them discoloring. The resulting apple rings are chewy and favored by teething toddlers. They are also nutritious, certainly far more so than candy.

Mushrooms dehydrate well because they are 90% water, to begin with. Use plump, fresh ones for the best results, and scrub all the dirt off before you put them in the machine. You can rehydrate them again in warm water. Dehydrate tomato sauce from a jar to make something resembling a fruit roll-up. Just add water to rehydrate. Store dehydrated foods in airtight containers somewhere dry and cool. If you are dehydrating vegetables, make sure they are at their peak ripeness, and blanch them before dehydrating to kill any bacteria.

Dehydrate thin slices of celery when you buy a bunch. It works well in any recipe calling for celery to be cooked, such as pasta bakes or soups. Vegetables and fruits should be sliced at the same thickness, so they dehydrate evenly, and remember foods dehydrate quicker at the edges of the trays than in the middle, so test a sample from the outside and the middle before deciding they are done. It is usually better to dehydrate food quickly, using a high temperature, although have it too high and the outside of the food will harden before the inside is dehydrated, so read the manufacturer’s guidelines first.

More Handy Tips

Dried apricots are wonderful in fruit bread and muffins, while dried tomatoes add plenty of flavor to marinated salads, pasta and rice dishes, and also bread. Never dehydrate raw poultry because of the risk of salmonella. Add dried fruit to your oatmeal, and they will rehydrate in there. They also rehydrate in cold cereal with milk. Carrots, mushrooms, green beans, potatoes, onion, peas, corn and bell peppers are among the easiest veggies to dehydrate. Banana, tomatoes, pears, peaches, berries, cherries and apples are good fruits to dry. Once you

Excalibur 5 Tray Dehydrator

Perfect for Everything from Dried Fruit to JerkyExcalibur EXD500W 5 Tray Dehydrator, White

This food dehydrator is smaller than some of the huge 9 and 10 tray models, making it more convenient if you have less space for it, or if you do not want to dry large quantities of food at once. You get 8 square feet of drying space with this one. The thermostat adjusts between 95 and 155 degrees F, and you will find the thermostat, heating element, and fan at the back of the unit. What this means is the cool air gets drawn in, then spread evenly over the food, to dehydrate it. Tray rotation is not necessary, so just add the food to the trays, set the correct temperature and let the Excalibur dehydrate your food to perfection. If you want to raise dough or dehydrate bigger items, simply remove some of the trays to make room. The high-temperature option makes this a great choice for safely making jerky as well.

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