Is It Time to Buy a Food Dehydrator?

Picking the best food dehydrator for you

   04.21.20

There are quite a few solid reasons to own a food dehydrator. Dehydrated foods store much longer than fresh foods, take up less space and lose very little, if any nutritional value. Dehydrated fruits, jerky meat and more can make a huge difference in times of crisis, providing you a source of food when there is little alternative. Is it time to buy a food dehydrator? Let’s help you find the best one for your needs.

What are some of the things you can do with a food dehydrator? Good question. The obvious answer is you can make jerky out of virtually any meat. Dehydrated meat jerky is probably the oldest form of food preservation known to man. Fruits also do well with dehydration. Dried cranberries, cherries, pineapple and apples have been a staple of trail mix variations for ages, and are a nutritious way to preserve perishable items.

Food Dehydrator

 

There are two basic types of dehydrators – stacked and box. Stacked dehydrators are usually devoid of an outer shell. The unit is made up of racks, each “stack” consisting of a tray for keeping foods and vents on the circumference. These stacks when placed atop each other, can be sealed such that heat does not escape the dehydrator. The fan is placed at the bottom and circulates the air in a vertical direction. The benefits are that the units are smaller and the size varies according to volume of foods.The main disadvantage is that the food closest to the heating element dries faster and periodic shuffling of racks is mandatory.

Box dehydrators have removable trays and work like electric ovens. The trays are inserted in a predetermined fashion and a fan at the back of the box blows hot air through the foods on each tray. These have better insulation and all of the trays receive equal amounts of heat. However they tend to be larger and take up more space.

1. Weston 10-Tray

What is important with a dehydrator? Even air circulation! That is a key part that makes the Weston 10-Tray box-style model great for dehydrating your fruit and vegetables, as well as for making perfect jerky. The ten trays are non-stick for easier cleaning and the temperature ranges from 84degrees to 155 degrees for perfect dehydrating and jerky making thanks to a 620-watt heating element.

Pros/Even heating and non-stick trays
Cons/Not made of metal, so you won’t want to move it around a lot
Bottom Line/Great dehydrator for the money

2. LEM Big Bite

LEM brings you commercial-quality products at consumer-level pricing. The Big Bite is a stainless steel, ten-tray box dehydrator. It has ten, chrome-plated iron trays that clean up well and offers you 16-square feet of space for fruit, meat, vegetables and more. Digital controls make dehydrating food easy and painless. With a machine like the Big Bite, you can make a pile of venison jerky all while watching a John Wayne marathon. Sounds like a good plan to us, pilgrim!

Pros/Digital controls and stainless-steel construction make this a perfect dehydrator
Cons/It’s big and heavy, so make sure you have space for it
Bottom Line/If you’re serious about this whole dehydrating your own food thing…

3. NESCO Snackmaster Pro

When you want to dip your toes into the dehydrating world, a good place to start is with the NESCO Snackmaster. This economical stack-style dehydrator comes with 5 trays but is expandable to 12. It has a digital timer and it’s powerful fan creates a pressurized interior to evenly prepare your food. This is the perfect dehydrator to get started with and it is one of the more popular units sold.

Pros/Great, small dehydrator for the price
Cons/Smaller size limits the amount you can dehydrate at once.
Bottom Line/Great way to see if dehydrating is for you

4. Silicone Sheets

Regardless of what dehydrator you use, these mesh silicone sheets can help make things easier to clean up. Made from non-stick silicone material, these mesh sheets can be cut to fit any tray. Making it easier to clean up, especially after notoriously messy things like fruit, these sheets measure 14-inches square and come five to a package. Can be cleaned and reused.

Pros/Makes cleaning up easier
Cons/You'll want some for every tray
Bottom Line/Cleaning stinks, but this makes it easier