Offers a class-leading 15 square feet of drying space. Thoroughly and rapidly dehydrates food at a level that exceeds competitors.
Appliance is heavy. Trays don't fit in many dishwashers. Pricey.
Stands up to its name by offering fast drying times. Effective top-mounted fan. Includes 4 trays and can be expanded to as many as 12.
Food occasionally falls through small gaps in the trays. Occasional reports of units that quit working unexpectedly.
Nesting trays save space and increase drying surface. Comes with accessories to whip up fruit strips as well as packs of spices and cure to get started making jerky. Easy to operate.
Some reported issues with durability.
Updated model can be expanded to as many as 30 trays, making it ideal for preparing large quantities. Works fast. Great for making jerky.
A few products quit working after a few months of use. The machine can be loud.
An inexpensive dehydrator that's very easy to use. Has 5 roomy trays and an uncomplicated knob control. Doesn't take up a lot of storage space.
Not as durable as some pricier competitors. Some units didn't heat up properly. On the loud side.
Whenever you store or preserve fresh food, you will lose some nutrients. That is why eating fresh foods is recommended by so many nutritionists. But a dehydrator can be one of the best compromises available. Depending on the process and temperature you use, it is possible to preserve food for impressive periods of time with only a minimal loss of some nutrients.
A box dehydrator offers more consistent heat and flexibility than the lower priced stacked dehydrator. Typically, a dehydrator with a rear-mounted fan and heater is better than a top or bottom mounting. Be sure the temperature range is appropriate for your needs and look for a model with a timer that also offers variable heating throughout the dehydration process for best results.
If you're ready to buy, consider one of our highlighted models as each was evaluated and found to be superior to many other dehydrators available. If you would like more information and some dehydrating tips, continue reading for a robust education on the topic.
If you're still on the fence about whether or not to buy a dehydrator, here are some reasons why we think they're useful kitchen appliances.
Dehydrating food is an excellent way to preserve produce that would otherwise spoil before you get around to using it.
You can make your own snacks — such as dried fruit — for much less money than they'd cost you at the grocery store.
Dehydrating is perfect for people who want to start eating more raw foods.
Foods made in a dehydrator tend to be on the healthy side, so these appliances can help improve your diet.
They can create lightweight foods perfect for camping or hiking — and you can even rehydrate foods dried in a dehydrator.
You'll find two main types of dehydrator on the market: stacked and box (or "rigid frame") models.
Stacked dehydrators are composed of a number of stackable trays or racks, with open sides. The fan and heating elements are either at the top and the bottom. Due to the fan placement and the open sides, the temperature isn't always consistent and can be harder to control. However, these units are often more affordable than box models and take up less space.
Box dehydrators have a rigid frame with back and sides (and sometimes a door on the front) into which you slide the trays. Since you can choose the tray placement, you can adjust the space between trays, making it more versatile — you're able to dehydrate taller pieces of food.
Some people even use their box dehydrators to proof dough.
Box dehydrators tend to have fans and heating elements at the back of the unit, which maintains a more consistent temperature and helps dehydrate food on all trays more evenly.
Dehydrators come in a number of shapes and sizes.
Given the fact that you must find somewhere to put it while in use — and somewhere to store it — these specs may impact your decision.
Stackable (or racked) dehydrators save you the most space, of course, but it's worth examining the size and tray capacities of all contenders.
Household food dehydrators use either convection systems or fans, but no two are the same. (Factors such as where the fan is mounted can have a considerable effect on drying efficiency.)
There's no right or wrong choice when it comes to drying method, but some units are faster and more effective than others.
As a rule, those that have rear-mounted fans and heaters dehydrate food more effectively than those with fans and heaters on the top or bottom.
Any dehydrators can be set at a range of temperatures, as all drying jobs have slightly different heat requirements, but the minimum and maximum temperature varies between models.
Therefore, if you're purchasing a dehydrator with a particular job in mind, make sure its temperature range fits your requirements.
Some higher-end models also have variable temperature cycles to encourage thorough drying. This means you can just "set and forget" rather than having to manually change the temperature at various points throughout the drying process.
Not all dehydrators have timers, but it's an extremely useful feature.
Drying cycles often take eight to twelve hours to complete and are sometimes even longer. Unless you plan extremely carefully, there's no guarantee you'll be at home — or awake — when the cycle is complete.
Improve your dehydrating game with the following tips.
Don't dehydrate sweet and savory foods at the same time. Air circulates around the unit while drying, so it's possible for flavor to mix, especially when dehydrating pungent foods.
Make sure you cut foods into even chunks or slices so they'll all be ready at the same time — larger pieces take longer to dry.
Don't let food overlap on the trays or the pieces won't dry evenly.
Never dry moldy fruit. Because of the low temperatures involved in drying food, the dehydration process won't kill any of the mold spores.
You can buy special trays for making fruit leathers in a dehydrator, though with some models you can simply line a regular tray with wax paper.
Dehydrated fruits and vegetables that are no longer safe to eat will have visible mold on the surface. If there's no mold, it's still good.
If you want to make jerky in your dehydrator, make sure it can reach temperatures of at least 160°F.
Dehydrators can be found at a range of prices to suit all budgets. Ultimately, you tend to get what you pay for, with the most inexpensive models being less effective.
You can find basic stacked dehydrators for as little as $30 to $60. In this price range, it's a mixed bag. You can find a handful of decent models, but they won't rival high-end units.
Mid-range dehydrators cost between $70 and $100. At the higher end of this price range, you can start to find box dehydrators, which tend to be more effective.
High-end box dehydrators cost between $100 and $300. You can find excellent models closer to the $100 mark, but if you plan to dehydrate food often and you have the budget, it's worth spending more on one of the very best units.
Q. How should I store dehydrated food?
A. If you don't store dehydrated food properly, if can absorb moisture from the air and ultimately rehydrate itself. Keep it in an airtight container, ideally with a food-grade moisture absorber pack in there, too.
Q. How long do dried fruits and vegetables last?
A. If stored properly, fruits and veggies dried in your dehydrator should last for at least a year.
Q. What temperature should I dehydrate food at and for how long?
A. This varies depending on what you're dehydrating and how large the chunks are. While you're getting used to drying food, we recommend closely following recipes to get the right temperature setting and time.
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