If you like dry meat and vegetables you can eat straight away or use in further cooking, owning a contraption that can help you with the drying process in the comfort of your own home can be just the thing you need.
The thing is, dried goods represent a major part of many different cuisines around the world, so whether you like Italian food, Mexican food, or French cuisine, being able to dry fruits, pasta, and meat is a great way to get yourself in the position to make some of your favorite meals in the comfort of your own home.
Many people aren’t even aware of just how important dried goods are for cuisines around the world. For example, pasta such as spaghetti is simply dried up dough that’s been shaped a certain way. Also, raisins, for example, are dried up grapes. There are many food items like that that have assumed their distinct ‘identity’ along the way.
In this article, we’re going to talk about food dehydrators and how useful they can be as a part of your kitchen arsenal. As you can see, these contraptions are fairly simple when it comes to their design, but can do wonders in helping you prepare a vast array of delicious recipes from cuisines around the globe.
To help you understand these contraptions a bit better, we’ve devoted a special section of this paper to answer some of the most frequently asked questions regarding these interesting tools. Also, we’ve organized a list of the five best food dehydrator models we’ve chosen for their qualities and which represent the most important representatives ‘of their kind’ currently on the market. There is also a buyer’s guide you can consult to learn more about what parameters you’d need to pay attention to when buying these contraptions.
Here’s the deal.
Although the power rating of a dehydrator will typically be lower than some other cooking appliances such as ovens and fryers, it’s still important to ensure that the dehydrator model you consider buying has enough power to successfully dry up the foods you put in it.
With these contraptions, the accent is on being able to hold the same temperature for extended periods rather than packing a powerful heating punch, so to speak.
Usually, the manufacturers of these appliances place heaters in their dehydrator models that don’t exceed 1,200 Watts of power, so these 1,200 Watts should be the upper value you may want to take into consideration when buying one of these dehydrators. (Of course, many models are considerably less powerful than this, so a lot here depends on the size of dehydrator you’re considering to buy.)
Most food dehydrators are made out of a combination of metal and plastic parts.
As far as the metal parts are concerned, they are usually used to make the frame for the dehydrator, as well as the heater and the removable trays that come with it. The material of choice for this purpose tends to be stainless steel because it’s durable, easy to clean, and looks good on kitchen appliances. Also, it doesn’t rust, which is a big plus when it comes to utensils and appliances that have to do with food preparation.
As far as the plastic parts, they are reserved for the control panel and some of the cosmetic details. The important thing to pay attention to when these parts are in question would be that there is no BPA in them. So, as long as the plastic parts of the food dehydrator you’re intending to buy are BPA-free, you’re good to go.
While the general rule for dehydrating foods is to use lower temperatures over an extended period, not all foods should be dehydrated at the same temperature.
What may be a perfect level of heat for some fruits and vegetables, for example, may not be enough for certain meats, so it’s important to be able to set the exact temperature at which different foods will be dried up.
This is why many manufacturers of these contraptions install adjustable thermostats in their dehydrators. These thermostats allow you to set the exact necessary temperature for different dehydrating tasks so that you get perfect results every time.
The thing about food dehydrators is that there is not much to clean up after you’re done using them. Since the process in question is a slow drying one, not much food residue will remain after the dehydration is over.
That said, it is still important to clean up the trays of the dehydrator, so that the different types of food don’t mix when you use them for the next drying task, so to speak.
To make this easier for the user, many food dehydrator manufacturers resort to making trays that are made out of stainless steel, so that you can simply plop them in a dishwasher and clean them that way. (Of course, you can always clean them by hand, too, if you don’t own a dishwasher.)
So, to ensure that the cleanup will be easy and quick once you’ve completed the dehydration process for some food of your choice, make sure that the trays are made out of stainless steel and that they’re dishwasher-friendly.
Digital Control Panel
When it comes to setting up the parameters for the dehydration process for the foods you want to dry up, it’s always handy to be able to do this simply by pushing some buttons on an easy-to-maneuver-around digital control panel.
Although not all dehydrators feature such a display, many of the modern-day models do, and it can be a truly useful feature – especially if you don’t have much time to wait around and regulate the temperature on your own during the dehydration process.
Also, digital control panels typically allow you to choose between different cooking presets, too, which makes the dehydration process even easier.
Best Commercial Food Dehydrator – A List of Products
1) Excalibur – 9-Tray Electric Food Dehydrator
As the name of this contraption suggests, this Excalibur product comes with nine trays where you can place a variety of different food items. Whether it’s fruits, vegetables, meat, or some other sort of food you want to dehydrate, using this contraption will give you excellent results. Thanks to the nine different trays, you can place different foods on different trays, so you can dry them up at the same time. The total amount of space you’ll get when you use this dehydrator is about 15 square feet, including all of the nine levels.
The way these contraptions work is that warm air circulates in-between the trays, slowly extricating moisture from them as it passes over. The temperatures at which these foods are drying are intentionally low because the goal is not to fry the food items you place in it but to slowly and deliberately extricate the moisture from them. The optimal temperature for dehydrating goes from 115 to 118° Fahrenheit, which provides just the right amount of hot air to help you prepare the foods of your choice quickly and easily.
- Comes with nine different trays totaling about 15 square feet
- Temperature doesn’t exceed 165° Fahrenheit
- 600 Watts of heating power
- Easy maintenance
- Adjustable thermostat
- Features a special guide for dehydration
- Some users reported that the mesh liners weren’t cut evenly
- Does not come with a drip tray
2) COSORI – Premium Food Dehydrator Machine
Featuring a stainless steel design that’s both good-looking and durable enough to withstand some demanding dehydrating tasks, this model from COSORI can be the right choice for a person looking for a durable and easy-to-use dehydration machine.
Some of the features this model comes with include an automatic shutoff feature, so you can rest assured that your food won’t get overly dehydrated, so to speak, in case you forget to turn it off after a while. That said, this feature works best when paired up with the functionality of the timer, which you can set to a value of your choice. Once you set it to work its magic, the timer will start the countdown and then this dehydrator will turn itself off after the timer is through.
Thanks to the fact that the folks at COSORI made the trays out of stainless steel, all you need to do when maintenance is in question is simply to place them in your dishwasher and then let the machine do its magic on them quickly and easily. Of course, if you don’t own a dishwasher, you can also do it by hand, which also wouldn’t be that difficult – all you need is some warm water and detergent.
- Made out of food-grade stainless steel
- BPA-free build
- 6 dishwasher-safe trays
- Easy maintenance
- Comes with a timer
- Touchscreen LED control panel
- Overheating protection
- Automatic shutoff feature
- One mesh screen
- Some users reported problems with the fan shutting itself off randomly
- Some users complained about the control panel malfunctioning
3) Magic Mill – Commercial Food Dehydrator Machine
Possessing an appearance of an oven with an easy-to-use digital control panel and a tough stainless steel build, this food dehydrator from Magic Mill is a reliable dehydrator you can use to treat a wide variety of food items, so to speak.
The thing that will help you get the temperature just right for the drying task you want to accomplish with it – would be the adjustable thermostat. You can use this thing to set the exact temperature you need for drying different foods so that you can rest assured that they won’t get scorched and that the temperature won’t be too low, which would make the dehydration process last for ages.
Once you’re done using this machine, the great thing about this model is that its trays are removable and made out of high-quality stainless steel. This means that the maintenance will be a piece of cake, especially because these trays are dishwasher-friendly, so you can simply place them into your dishwasher and clean them that way fairly easily.
- Trays made out of stainless steel
- Easy maintenance
- Dishwasher-friendly trays
- BPA-free build
- Overheating protection
- Comes with an adjustable thermostat and a timer
- Some users reported that this model sometimes heats the food unevenly inside the oven
- Some users complained about touchy controls and imprecise temperature settings
4) STX INTERNATIONAL – Stainless Steel Digital Food Dehydrator
If you are a professional cook, or just prefer to dehydrate your food on a larger scale, so to speak, buying this model can be a step in the right direction toward easily making large quantities of dehydrated food in your home relatively quickly. The reason why this model will be able to dehydrate more food than some of its counterparts would certainly come down to its spaciousness, as it comes with 10 trays onto which you can place your favorite foods.
With 1,200 Watts of heating power, this model packs more than enough of a dehydrating punch to ensure that you will be able to dehydrate large quantities of food, even if you place all of them in the oven at the same time.
The digital control panel on this STX International food dehydrator enables you to choose from seven preset temperature settings, with temperatures ranging from 97° to 165° Fahrenheit. If you’re unsure what foods to dehydrate at what temperatures, this model comes with a special cookbook containing 270 recipes, so you can consult it to see how to treat different foods. (Also, you can use it to learn some new interesting recipes and dehydration techniques on foods you’ve never experimented on before.)
- 1,200 Watts of heating power
- 10 stainless steel trays
- Comes with an easy-to-use digital control panel
- Dehydrating cookbook with 270 recipes
- 7 preset temperature settings
- Automatic shutoff feature
- Features a stainless steel drip tray
- This unit may be too big for some users
- It’s fairly large
5) Magic Mill – Commercial Food Dehydrator Machine
Last but not least, as our entry number five, we’ve got another Magic Mill dehydrator. This model differs from the one we described at number 3 mostly in its size – this commercial food dehydrator is considerably bigger. It comes with 11 trays, so you have plenty of space to work with when it comes to slowly but surely dehydrate your favorite foods.
As far as the temperature control is concerned with this unit, the scale goes from 95° to 167° Fahrenheit, which is more than enough to help you tackle even the most requiring dehydration tasks. Also, this temperature range is split and organized into nine numerical increments, so you have some options to choose from when it comes to how you want to approach the dehydration task with this machine.
The folks at Magic Mill also decided to throw in a pair of oven mitts to help you handle this machine safely in case you have to move it around your room and it’s not cooled down yet.
- Comes with 11 trays
- 9 temperature increments
- The trays are made out of high-quality stainless steel
- One set of oven mitts
- 5 fine mesh sheets
- Overheating protection
- Automatic shutoff feature
- 1,000 Watts of heating power
- Fairly large
- Some users reported having problems with the heater
Frequently Asked Questions:
1) What can you dehydrate in a food dehydrator?
Since food dehydrators are fairly simple contraptions when it comes to the way they operate, there is no limit when it comes to what sort of foods you can dry in them.
As long as the food you want to dry has moisture in it and you want to get rid of it, using a food dehydrator can be a good option. Some of the foods that can be treated using one of these contraptions include fruits, leafy greens, meat, vegetables, and many other foods.
2) Should every kitchen have a dehydrator?
If you don’t like dried fruits or bacon, or any sort of dry meat, then you may as well do fine without a dehydrator in your kitchen. That said, if you like any of the aforementioned food items, getting one of these contraptions can be a great way to easily make your favorite dry foods.
Dry foods, in general, tend to be expensive to buy, especially if they’re a part of some sort of special post-workout oatmeal mix, so being able to make these nutrient-rich dried foods in your home can be an excellent way to both always have these dried goods at your disposal and save some money in the long run.
3) How do you make a food dehydrator?
As we said above, food dehydrators aren’t the most complex kitchen appliances out there, so if you don’t feel like spending too much money on buying one, you can also try to make one, instead.
Generally speaking, the most important parts of a food dehydrator is the box, the trays, the heating element, and the ventilation. Throw in an adjustable thermostat, a timer, and an automatic shutoff feature and that’d be all you need to begin dehydrating foods yourself. (Of course, you can do that without a timer and a dehydrator, but they can be useful, especially if you don’t have enough time to be around when the dehydrating process is finished.)
So, if you can connect the aforementioned four parts into one unit, you’ll have a pretty good chance of making a functioning food dehydrator.
4) What are the disadvantages of frying food?
Other than the special taste of fried foods, which some folks may like and some not, the main problem with fried food is the high level of cholesterol and different fats that tend to remain stuck in the food after the frying process is over.
This is because to fry something, you typically need to use a large amount of oil, which is the source of the potentially harmful fats.
5) Do dehydrators use a lot of electricity?
Since dehydrators typically use lower temperatures than fryers or ovens, for example, the amount of electricity they use is considerably lower than what those contraptions would need to run properly.
In general, the temperature range for most dehydrators goes from 97° to 165° Fahrenheit, because the goal is to get the food inside rid of moisture, rather than frying it or baking it. On the other hand, dehydrators usually need to run for much longer than an average oven, as a dehydration process can take for hours and sometimes even days.
Overall, it’d be safe to say that dehydrators don’t use a lot of electricity, especially compared to some of the other commonly-used kitchen appliances.
All in all, dried foods represent a big part of many different cuisines and dishes, so having a contraption at home that can help you dehydrate fruits, vegetables, and meat can be a great way to avoid buying these dried goods from a store. (They often tend to be fairly expensive, too.) We hope this article helped you learn more about food dehydrators and we wish you a merry and hassle-free purchase.