The dehydrators presented here are available at these stores:
Dehydrator: The Ultimate Buying Guide
Few years ago all of the meat snacks or dried fruit sweets you craved for could’ve been found in local grocery store in various packages, but with all new technologies that are working toward home preparing these deliciousness we bring you one step closer in making all of this in your home. Whether you are a professional chef or having your first steps toward new business, or just going for more healthy snacks, we have some advice on this matter.
Food dehydrating – reasoning behind the idea
Dehydrating through history was civilization's way of surviving the winter without the need to live in warmer climates where there was abundance of food. The need to preserve the food and make stocks for times of shortages also made humans less prone to constant moving for greener pastures. First dehydrating was done in the sun or using salt to dry the meat with instantly enhancing their shelf life and making the meat more resistant to spoil. Modern home food dehydrators are electric, automatic and the best home helper in becoming more health-conscious.
Dehydrating food: how and why?
Dehydrating food is a process of extracting the water and moisture out of it. For food to be properly dehydrated, it needs to be in a warm, dry and well-vented environment. When we take the water out of our food we remove the favorable conditions for bacteria growth, which is the main reason food goes bad. Another reason in favor of dehydrating is that all the nutrients stay inside the food. As opposed to canning or freezing vitamin A (beta carotene) and C, carbohydrates, fiber content, potassium, magnesium, selenium, and sodium levels are not altered or lost in dehydration. People used to do it by leaving food in the attics, on the roof in the summer or using specially built furnaces. All of those methods we can apply today but each and every one of them is fairly complicated and requires favorable weather or a lot of space. Modern dehydrators are supposed to make the whole process easy for everyone. They have controlled environments where you don’t have to rely on the weather, and most of them don’t use up much space.
Airflow and heat distribution
Most modern dehydrators have both a heating unit and a fan to disperse hot air. Two main designs exist: vertical and horizontal flow. In vertical flow, trays are usually stacked one on top of another, while in horizontal they are usually pulled out like drawers. Dehydrators with horizontal air flow dry food evenly across all trays, which makes it easier to use with a timer, but the process lasts a bit longer. However, vertical type is quick to dry a tray or two on the bottom, but needs you to rotate the trays if you want to keep the efficiency.
Temperature range varies only a little as different foods have corresponding temperatures for dehydrating, so all brands and types try to accommodate as many foods as possible. For example highest temperatures are used to dehydrate meats and fish (usually around 155 °F), while herbs (95°F), vegetables (125°F) and fruits (135°F) need lower temperatures do dry properly. Almost all mid-range to high end models are made to dehydrate all food to fit your needs and are equipped with adjustable thermostats and timers for automatic shut-off, but be careful with timers because some of them offer the maximum time limit to be turned on.
Main differences between dehydrators
Stacking style vs Shelf styleStacking is proven to be more quantitative efficient because they can be stacked like a tower, with the risk of shocking the food with uneven temperatures when you try to take the number of stacks. Also, stacking units usually have a hole in the middle to spread the temperature more efficiently, but can be a problem if you need to put dressings on the food. Shelf style provides less concern with overseeing the food, no worries for different timings on different types of food, and is user-friendlier. Reordering shelves can give you extra space for larger pieces to be dried. Downside is that it is not expandable and is limited within the original size of the machine.
Plastic vs Stainless steel traysWhen searching for a dehydrator, make sure it is using FDA-approved plastic that cannot concern you with any chance of mixing with the food, but if you have any worries with plastic or you are just a stylish, some models offer stainless steel that is food-safe to the max.
Vertical vs Horizontal air flow
Vertical air flow dehydrators are usually cheaper, offer the fan that can push the warm air through the chamber, smaller in size and take less floor space in the house. Expandability is great for organizing and the bonus is that they are easier to clean. Horizontal air flow dehydrators offer more even drying, keeping the climate inside constant and having no need to rotate the trays. The fan is working like the conventional oven, and shelves are easier to be handled. Downside is the hand cleaning part, just like the oven.
Or wattage can be also considered as an important characteristic. Most popular models are around 500 to 600 watts. There are more power efficient models but they taking longer to dehydrate your food. The opposite stands for stronger ones of course. So if you are looking to do this regularly often, or start a small business, search for the optimum power consumption.
One of the characteristics of your future appliance that you really need to consider is noise. Because although they shorten the process a lot, it still takes hours to dehydrate food. If you have a timer and your machine is in the basement or another place where loud humming doesn’t bother you, great! But if you live in a studio apartment and need to concentrate on your work, noise might well be the reason to give up on a large and powerful dehydrator.
Prices range from as little as 20$ - 30$ to well above 200$. Some perks of the more expensive models include a built in timer and a pre-set temperature regulation button, adjustable tray height and stainless steel trays. Some of those perks can be found even in cheaper models if you do the research. So if you are not too demanding as a consumer, most models in price range from 50$ to 100$ should cater your needs.
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