Nowadays, the old saying, we are what we eat, becomes more and more up to date. Would you like to make your meals healthier?
If the answer is yes, then you definitely should turn your attention to the best food dehydrators that save all useful vitamins and enzymes in the food due to low-temperature cooking. So, this is what our today’s review will be devoted to.
- 1 Now, what can you actually do with the help of a food dehydrator?
- 2 Here are some unusual ideas for using a food dehydrator
- 3 Types of food dehydrators
- 4 Box and Shelf Food Dehydrators
- 5 The difference between these two kinds of food dehydrators
- 6 Here are the reviews of the best food dehydrators produced by various companies
- 6.1 Presto 06300 Dehydro – this is a basic model with affordable price
- 6.2 MAGIC MILL Food Dehydrator - price/quality
- 6.3 Excalibur 3926TB is the best dehydrator with mechanical control
- 6.4 Tribest Sedona Combo dehydrator is a good model manufactured in Korea
- 6.5 Excalibur EXC10EL 10-Tray is a professional dehydrator
- 7 Advices for those choosing what dehydrator to get
- 8 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Now, what can you actually do with the help of a food dehydrator?
Well, you can provide your family and yourself with tasty fruits and vegetables cooked without using any chemicals (unlike it is done in the food industry). You can prepare:
- Rawtarian patties and pizza
- Home-made yoghurts
- Yoghurt marshmallow
- Home-made marshmallow
- All kinds of rawtarian, vegetarian and vegan food
- Dry various roots, herbs, prepare herb tea
- Make your own teas and spices
- Dry nuts and then make nut oil from them
- Do some creative things with your kids – like crafts from salt dough, for example
- Prepare all sorts of jam
- Air-dried meat, fish, pickled food
Impressive list, isn’t it? However, these were just ordinary ways to use a food dehydrator. And now …
Here are some unusual ideas for using a food dehydrator
- Fruit ripening – green fruit ripe much faster and become very tasty
- Making natural dyes from flowers blossom that grow in your garden
- Heating your room – a dehydrator doesn’t overdry the air
- Developing a film
- Drying different crafts from clay and bread
- Dry shoes or clothes, especially for sportsman
- If you bake bread at home, you have to wait till the dough becomes ready. A dehydrator ensures stable temperature for this
- Dry home-made pasta
- Make cottage cheese
What is a dehydrator?
First, let’s understand what dehydration process itself means. Dehydration is water loss, i.e. de-watering of substances and tissues.
This process is often used in the food industry for food storage and canning. By means of a dehydrator liquid is removed from products at that all nutrients and taste are preserved while the food storage time increases.
Food dehydrator is a must-have in a vegan’s or vegetarian’s kitchen. As you see, these are the people who thoroughly control what they eat and will never use any unhealthy ways of food treatment.
Actually, a dehydrator can make dry fruit from any ordinary fruit. When the water is taken out from any food the nutrient bacteria growth is inhibited, that’s why food storage time increases several times. This is a time-consuming process, but the result it definitely worth it though.
It is very easy to store dehydrated food. It can be kept in a sealed package for a maximum long time without losing its taste and nutritive properties. The most important thing is to protect it from dampness and insects that transmit fungi and bacteria. You may also use glass jars that are tightly sealed, though it’s better to use a specially designed vacuum vessel.
A dehydrator is a low power device, it consumes several times less power than any other heater. It is quite convenient to have such a device at home: you can buy a large amount of seasonal vegetables and fruits and preserve them for the whole coming year.
What are enzymes?
Maximum food absorbency is of crucial importance for your health. Food digestion is a very complicated process, that requires ferments or as they are also called enzymes. These are special substances – peptidase, amylase, lipase and other ferments produced by pancreatic gland.
However, many products contain enzymes as well, which means that they themselves help our body to digest and maximally absorb the food. The better our meals are digested, the more nutrients the body gets and the less undigested poisonous food leftovers are left in intestinal tract.
Sufficient amount of enzymes facilitates weight loss as well, since they catalyze fat burning process.
Types of food dehydrators
Depending on the way the air flow passes through the dehydrator trays these devices are divided into Stacked Dehydrators and Box and Shelf Dehydrators. They differ greatly and this is what we are going to discuss next.
Stackable Food Dehydrators
As for their appearance, normally these dehydrators are round shaped. Hot air inside them goes up, passes through the trays, hits the top and goes down again. Stackable dehydrators for vegetables foresee placing food on special trays that are then put one over another.
You can’t put just one tray – you’ll have to use all of them even though you need just one. Only in this case (when the dehydrator is completely assembled) the air flow will blow your fruits and vegetables uniformly.
Another not very convenient feature of stackable dehydrators is that they may have not transparent case and cap. Because of this it’s difficult to identify products readiness, especially on the bottom trays.
They have more compact size (however, their volume is smaller as well). This kind of dehydrators and stoves cost less.
Stackable dehydrators are less productive. Another demerit is that fruits and vegetables tastes get mixed, because the air flow passes bottom-upwards or in the opposite direction. If the fan is placed in the bottom you may spill or scatter something on it and as a result damage the engine or some electronics.
To find out if the products are ready you’ll have to turn the dehydrator off and disassemble it.
Box and Shelf Food Dehydrators
The main difference between stackable and Box and Shelf food dehydrators is the air flow direction. Box and Shelf food dehydrators have horizontally directed air flow.
One or several fans are placed at the back of the device case or on its sides and this way the air blows off the products uniformly.
As for its appearance a Box and Shelf dehydrator is very much like a stove or an oven you use to bake cakes. Its trays can slide in and out just like these in the oven. As for the device door it can be both dismountable and swinging.
Keep in mind that this kind of devices can’t be built into furniture, since they have very powerful fans and heating elements, as a result they require a safe distance of at least 4 inches to the neighboring wall.
The drying process is more uniform due to the horizontal air flow. It is easier to observe the process, because you can take out any tray with no need to disassemble the whole construction. The majority of such devices have a transparent window that simplifies the observation greatly.
The fan in box dehydrators is placed at the back therefore you can’t spill or scatter anything on it, if something falls from trays. The taste of products doesn’t mix since the air flow is directed horizontally.
Box and shelf food dehydrators have square trays with no apertures, so you can make square shaped rawtarian pizza dough, fruit and barriers paste and many others.
Box and shelf food dehydrators have larger useful space and they cook more products at the same time.
High price, though the quality you get is absolutely worth it.
You can’t put any auxiliary trays.
The difference between these two kinds of food dehydrators
The most important difference is the quality of drying. Stackable dehydrators are famous with their main drawback they can’t provide drying process uniformity . The air flow comes from the bottom and trays placed on different height get different air flow intensity.
Because of this you’ll have to control the process and rearrange the trays all the time. As for box food dehydrators they provide uniform drying at all levels due to horizontally directed air flow.
Our advice is: get a dehydrator with horizontally located trays, since it is more usable.
Here are the reviews of the best food dehydrators produced by various companies
The best dehydrators are produced in the USA. The reason is quite obvious, since America was the place where the idea of products dehydration first appeared. The leading manufacturer in this country is Excalibur Dehydrator Company.
It is considered to be the one who invented this kind of household appliances over 43 years ago. Excalibur Dehydrators is one of The Legacy Companies holding group that also owns Omega Juicers Company producing Omega and Sana by Omega liquidizers.
However, recently rivals from South Korea have appeared on the market. Namely it is Sedona Company. Its Tribest Sedona Combo has not only high build quality, but excellent characteristics as well.
Presto 06300 Dehydro – this is a basic model with affordable price
Since we are talking about dehydrators here, there will be only Box and Shelf – models. Because as we’ve mentioned above only using this kind of dehydrators it’s possible to evaluate all the advantages they have.
However, we can’t help mentioning Presto 06300. This is truly generally recognized dehydrator and a number of positive opinions say for it. The device has 4 trays it heats up to 165°F, it is light weight and doesn’t take much space. Considering the price, it is impossible to pass it by.
Unfortunately, these advantages don’t compensate its demerits – low productivity and temperature instability.
Though, not everyone wants to buy expensive devices. Therefore, in case if you are eager to try a new household appliance, but you aren’t going to dry food often and you don’t worry much about all these enzymes, you really should take a look at this device.
- Four-tray system for dehydrating foods at a fraction of the cost of commercially dehydrated foods with no additives or preservatives
- See-through cover to monitor drying progress on top tray; Bottom-mounted fan and heating element provide consistent air flow for optimum drying
- Drying trays and cover are fully immiscible and dishwasher safe; Fruit roll sheets, nonstick mesh screens, jerky gun and jerky spice kits available
- Easy to store; Drying trays nest for compact storage; Cord stores in base
- Four drying trays included; Expands up to eight trays for added capacity
- Low price
- Small size
- Low productivity
- It’s impossible to adjust the temperature
- No timer
- Non-uniform heat distribution
- A fan is placed on the bottom
- Can’t be recommended to vegans and rawtarians
MAGIC MILL Food Dehydrator - price/quality
This is where modern technologies are used. Judge for yourself: the device has a digital thermostat and timer, 9 trays (steel ones!), pre-set functions for various products, transparent door, thermal mode from 95°F to 158°F. At that the price is more than affordable. It is very stylish as well.
As for the demerits we should mention not very clear user manual, the trays are difficult to insert, the plastic is fragile. Sometimes there are complaints about plastic smell, which is completely unacceptable for many healthy food fans. Luckily, the smell will disappear in time, but not everyone wants to wait. The most important demerit is its high energy consumption and low productivity.
- DIGITAL THERMOSTATE AND TIMER help you choose your desire temperature and time. Up to 19.5 hours dry time. Choose drying temperatures from 95º F to 158º F. (with 9 num.increments) Countdown timer.
- FUNCTION Rear-mounted fan is designed to promote even drying without overheating, and the adjustable thermostat with automatic shutoff ensures that foods are dehydrated at their optimal temperature and crispiness
- USAGE Perfect for dried fruit slices, long-lasting dried herbs, delicious beef Jerky and more. Also a perfect way to preserve foods. For a fraction the price of commercial.
- HEALTHY Enjoy the homemade easiest healthiest snacks, preserve foods, without additives, made with the BPA free machine
- 9 Stainless steel spacious, (13" X 12") adjustable drying racks, , to accommodate a wide variety of fruits, herbs, vegetables, and meats, great for large families, gardeners, sportsmen, outdoor hobbyists, health-conscious enthusiast, includes 2 silicone oven mitts
- Steel trays
- Fragile plastic that may smell
Excalibur 3926TB is the best dehydrator with mechanical control
This model has become a classical one. Yes, it is controlled by means of mechanics, but it is reliable and can be used almost eternally.
Large trays, uniform drying process, user-friendliness, long term warranty, interesting and complete user manual and recommendations on how to dry various products as well as how to cook meals - all these make Excalibur 2900ECB dehydrator distinguished from every other.
The device is extremely easy to control and use. Drying is performed uniformly in all parts of the tray even when you put the trays on a different height. Large volume and sufficient number of trays allow managing the dehydrator internal space depending on a task being performed.
As for the device demerits we can name its noisiness. If you have light sleep, it’s better not to leave the device on at night, otherwise you’ll have to close your kitchen or bedroom door.
Here you pay quite moderate price and get quality and a trouble-free device. You won’t have to run around it with trays full of half-dried products looking for the position to dry all of them simultaneously and uniformly.
- 9-Tray dehydrator, 15 square feet of drying space, Built in on/off switch and adjustable thermostat with 26 hour timer.
- Adjustable Thermostat 105F to 165F. Temperature range is low enough to preserve active enzymes in fruits and vegetables. Temperature range is also high enough to meet safety standards for dehydrating meat for jerky.
- Great for large families, gardeners, and sportsmen. Dehydrate fruits, vegetables, nuts, meat for jerky, fruit puree for fruit roll-ups, raise bread or make homemade yogurt
- Includes a flexible poly-screen tray insert to prevent foods from sticking and trays do not need to be moved or rotated during operation.
- 7-inch fan for increased air circulation. Mesh screens are BPA free
- High quality designed components and accessories
- Large useful space of the trays - 15 sq. ft
- Uniform drying process
- Easy to control
- Thermostat that regulates temperature from 95 to 155°F
- Timer that can be set up to 26 hours
- A bit noisy
- Large size
Tribest Sedona Combo dehydrator is a good model manufactured in Korea
This model came to replace a well-proven Tribest Sedona SD-P9000 model. But the new one uses a very interesting technology called Combo – it is when products are dried fist at high temperature (up to 149°F) for a short period of time and then the ordinary drying temperature is on.
Why do they do this?
For example, if you dry tomatoes or meat, the temperature inside the product is lower, since it heats up non-uniformly. It is warmer outside and sufficiently colder inside. This occurs due to the water evaporation that cools the product. The short term temperature increase doesn’t affect the enzymes since they are preserved even if the temperature gets up to 155°F high.
Sedona has a tray with high edges in its set to dry some juicy fruits. The device has very convenient night mode function. When it’s on its fans work using only half of their power. However, be careful when using this mode for juicy fruits, because when being dried at low temperature for a long time they may get spoilt or sour, or even become covered with mold.
Therefore, it’s better to use night mode for some dry products like herbs or culinary plants.
Convenient system of button type control, LCD display on the dehydrator case, sound indication of work completion – all these complete the list of this dehydrator advantages. You can adjust the fans intensity independently, which allows directing the air flow separately to the upper or bottom side of the chamber.
- 2-Stage sequential temperature timer (TST)
- Computerized all-digital control/display
- Dual fan technology for energy efficiency
- Glass window
- Bpa-Free body and trays
- Computerized All-Digital Control/Display
- Dual Fan Technology
- Quiet Operation
- Two-Stage Sequential Temperature-Timer (TST)
- LED Display
- Glass Window
- Chamber Divider Tray
- BPA-free body and trays
- The price
Excalibur EXC10EL 10-Tray is a professional dehydrator
Excalibur Deluxe EXC10EL dehydrator model is one of the stylish product line «Stainless Steel». This is an advance in the production of professional drying appliances. It is completely made of high quality stainless steel and designed for simultaneous processing of products with total area of 15.63 sq ft of drying space. The device doors are made of armored glass.
It has a timer for 99 hours. Multifunctional digital control with LCD display and Combo mode are also available. Ten stainless steel trays ensure combining various fruit, vegetables and meat; glass doors let you control the drying process easily.
The dehydrator is equipped with a patented horizontal drying system Parallex™ and Hyperwave™ ensure excellent drying of products in all trays. A powerful thermostat and a large fan ensure continuous operation for 99 hours and an embedded timer automatically turns the device off at the end of the set time period.
Small size and high productivity allow using the device not only for seasonal food preservation for the household, but for some small business to produce and sell dried products as well.
- Case interior and exterior is made of Stainless Steel with Stainless Steel Trays
- Transparent armored glass doors! , 48 Hour Digital Timer
- 10 large trays, 15.63 sq ft of drying space
- Adjustable Thermostat 95F to 165F, 6.5-inch fan, 600 watts
- 17-1/4 W x 20-1/2 D x 17 T, Made in the USA, 10 Year Warranty
- Front doors are made of transparent armored glass
- A fan and a thermostat of 600 Wt capacity ensures high productivity and durability
- Horizontal drying of products is performed using Parallex™ and Hyperwave™ technologies
- 10 dismountable steel trays
- An automatic adjustable thermostat provides high reliability of the device and protects it from overheat
- The price
Advices for those choosing what dehydrator to get
The main rule is: whatever way of drying the device has and no matter what kind of the device you buy the result you get directly depends only on quality of the products you choose. If we talk about fruits and vegetables, they have to be:
- ecologically pure and tested
- thoroughly washed and dry
- fleshy and tough
Due to the unique temperature mode at which food dehydrators work you can also make yoghurts and levain as well as yeasted dough. You should slice products in thin pieces to ensure proper drying.
Keep in mind that the room where you put a dehydrator should have good ventilation, since all products smell rather strongly when being dried.
To make sure that all your efforts won’t be in vain, store ready dried products properly. The best way that prevents development of fungi and mold is to store dried food in oxygen-eliminating glass jars or vacuum packing.
Different vegetables and fruits require using various temperature modes (at that they preserve more nutrients and appearance). It’s good when there are at least 2-3 temperature modes 104°F (40°С ) and 160-170°F (70-75°С). Green vegetables, soft berries and semi-dried products are made at lower temperatures, at higher ones you should dry most of fruits and vegetables, and make marshmallow.
More improved food dehydrator models allow temperature regulation to a precision of one degree by means of electronic control.
Another useful feature is automatic shutdown. Very often the drying process lasts for a day or more. When you set shutdown time, you can go to work or to bed and be sure that fruits get over dried or coarse.
A case of any food dehydrator should be made from safe materials to prevent ingress of any toxic chemicals into the food. For example, food stainless steel or BPA-free plastic (which doesn’t contain bisphenol А and other dangerous chemicals) can be one of these materials.
It is also important what are trays made of, because the products are put on them and then heated. It is desirable have trays from silicon or polypropylene – the substances aren’t toxic and they can stand high temperatures without evolving contaminants.
Some products that contain a lot of water (for example, water-melons, peaches, tomatoes) may become sour during the drying process. To prevent this it’s necessary to regulate the humidity level in the chamber and you can do this by opening the dehydrator door during the process. Some dehydrator models allow doing this (Excalibur), others – not (Sedona). So, in the latter when you open the door the device’s sensor actuates and the drying process stops automatically. Although, in case of stackable dehydrators their cap can be taken off, it leads to even more non-uniform drying and the device service life decrease.
Another important parameter is an adjustable thermostat that allows setting the temperature in a certain range. Due to this function you can not only select optimal drying conditions for various rawtarian dishes at the temperature below 140°F.
Timer is such a convenient function, but not all food dehydrator models have it. Most of stackable dehydrators don’t have timers; however, all box dehydrators have.
Except all above mentioned you should check how easy it is to wash and disassemble the dehydrator and wash it after the usage. Absence of slits in the chamber prevents crumbles from getting stuck in it, bacterial growth and difficulties while cleaning the device.
Noise intensity also affects on how convenient it is to use the dehydrator.
Another parameter that influences on how easy it is to use the food dehydrator is its user manual that says which temperatures are suitable for drying certain products.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Which one is better: vertical or horizontal air flow?
Vertical air flow is less efficient – the air accelerates not uniformly enough, the products are dried at different speed, therefore you have to change trays places. As for the vertical air flow merits – well, in some cases you can buy some additional trays if you need and put them on top of those that you already have. Box and shelf food dehydrators don’t let using any auxiliary trays, though they perform better drying. Considering the number of box and shelf food dehydrator models on the market you can surely find the one with the number of trays you need – from 4 to 20.
What are silicon sheets and other accessories for?
These are used to dry sticky substances (dough, fruit candy etc.) and small sized products (berries, herbs, corn).
How long should I dry a fruit candy?
The drying time depends on the dough consistence and the temperature you are using. In average at 140°F fruit candy or crisp bread gets dry during a night (in about 8 hours).
Won’t herbs and berries fall down through the meshy trays?
You should use silicon sheets or trays without apertures to dry herbs and berries. Some dehydrators have these in their sets and for some models you’ll have to buy such accessories separately.
Can I put a dehydrator in a cupboard? How far should it be located from the wall?
You mustn’t put a dehydrator in a cupboard or put it against the wall. The distance from the device to any neighboring walls should be at least 4 inches, not to hinder air circulation.
Can I dry fish and meat in a dehydrator?
Yes, sure, lean meat and fish are perfect for drying.
Can I take the trays off during the drying process?
Yes, you can take them off, add some trays and change their places.
Can I turn my food dehydrator if it’s not full?
Yes, you can. Dehydrator functioning doesn’t depend on how full it is. However, it is desirable that all trays are put inside the device otherwise the drying process can become longer and not uniform.
Can I wash the trays in a dishwasher?
No, we don’t recommend washing any of food dehydrator components in a dishwasher.
Which trays are better: plastic or metal ones?
From the healthiness and safety point of view there isn’t much difference: trays made of eco-plastic don’t contain bisphenol-A and other toxic substances. The advantage of steel trays is that they are more firm and durable if compared with plastic ones. Besides, it is easier to wash steel trays.
Last update on 2018-06-23 at 22:15 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API